What to Wear On a Safari: A Packing Guide

What to Wear On a Safari: A Packing Guide

Posted July 20, 2016

Traveling to the unspoiled wilderness of Africa for a safari is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many.  Unlike most vacations though, safaris require specific clothing.  To help you prepare, we have put together a packing guide so you will be comfortable and appropriately dressed in the bush.


Clothing that can be layered to accommodate a variety of temperatures is essential.  It can get quite cool on a safari before the sun rises and after it sets.  Many travelers opt for convertible zip-off pants that can be worn as pants or shorts. We also recommend packing long-sleeved shirts and sweaters as well as a windbreaker, light jacket/fleece, and safari vest with pockets.

Please note:  from May to August, temperatures can become very cold in the early morning and at night so packing winter clothing such as a hat, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket is vital.

Tip: buy a few shirts that are “moisture-wicking” to help keep you cool during the mid-day heat.

Casual wear

When you aren’t traveling between destinations or on a game drive, you will be lounging at your lodge.  Pack shorts, t-shirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, a bathing suit and a hat for when you are relaxing in between activities.

Scarf or Bandana

In the drier seasons there is usually a lot of dust while on game drives.  Bring a light scarf, bandana, or mask to cover your nose and mouth.  Additionally, keep camera equipment in large zip-lock bags to help protect from dust. We also recommend packing a lens tissue and/or dust cover.  Contact lens wearers, consider wearing glasses to avoid eye irritation.

Along with providing a respite from dust, a scarf that’s been dipped in water can help cool you down when you get hot.

Neutral Colors

There is a reason why movies depicting safaris show travelers wearing khaki-colored clothing: it is the best color to keep unwanted wildlife and insect attention at bay.  Blue, black, and purple clothing attracts mosquitos and tsetse flies, a biting insect that can cause sleeping sickness.  In Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and northern and eastern South Africa, we recommend wearing dark green.   As there is a change in landscape, in Botswana, Namibia and western South Africa, brown, tan, and beige colors are best.

Because of the mosquitos and insects, it is necessary to pack insect repellent with at least 40% DEET.

Safety Items

It’s always better to be prepared — especially in remote destinations — so we recommend packing antibacterial hand gel or wipes, a flashlight for your cabin, toilet paper, and standard first aid provisions such as aspirin or ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol® tablets, IMODIUM®A-D or other anti-diarrheal medicine, cold/flu medicine, adhesive bandages, and topical antibiotic cream.

Lastly, we recommend packing a day bag that you can bring with you on game drives that includes space for your camera, binoculars, water, dust cover, and hat. Along with this, we recommend packing pocket tissue or toilet paper.  You may not have access to this while away from your camp.


*If you are going on our “Southern Africa Odyssey,” “Tanzania Adventure,” “Classic Safari: Kenya & Tanzania,” or “Africa’s Wildlife” small group tours, this information is also sent to you in our general information and day-by-day packets.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.