What to Wear on a Safari

By Kathryn Walsh

Wild and wonderful: how to pack for an expedition

What to Wear on a Safari

It's a bucket list kind of adventure, the kind of trip you'll never forget. A safari is also an adventure that you'll probably photograph liberally, including selfies, so you might be concerned about looking good out in the bush. But that should be your third concern, after safety and comfort. Dressing to go into the wild requires some considerations that normal travel doesn't. When you go looking for elephants in Kenya or monkeys in the rain forests of Brazil, keep these guidelines in mind.

Wear: neutral colors

If any part of your safari involves walking out in the bush, wearing neutral colors helps you blend in with your surroundings, which makes you as unobtrusive as possible. That's a good thing when you're around unpredictable animals. Do as the safari guides do and wear head-to-toe khaki, brown and dark green.

Don't wear: white, blue, black or bright colors

Some local people who live near wild animals wear bright colors (including white) without issue, but safari guides still typically recommend that visitors avoid those attention-getting colors. If it doesn't blend in with the landscape, save it to wear at dinner.

If you're on safari in sub-Saharan Africa, stay away from wearing blue or black because these colors attract tsetse flies. These flies spread a disease called African Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Wear: light layers

Expect to experience dramatic temperature swings during a safari. These expeditions often take off in the early morning, sometimes before the sun comes up. During the hottest months, temperatures regularly surpass 100 degrees F in places where safaris are offered, such as India and parts of Africa and South America.

Wear pants or shorts made of a lightweight and durable fabric like nylon, and layer a long-sleeved button-down shirt or light pullover over a tank top or T-shirt. Bring a thin rain jacket with a hood.

Wear: comfortable shoes

You might spend all day sitting in a vehicle, or get out and do some walking around on hot and uneven terrain. In either case, comfortable shoes like walking shoes or ankle-high hiking boots are appropriate. It may be hot out there, but you don't want to risk getting insect bites or sunburn on your feet, so choose closed-toe shoes.

Don't wear: jeans

They're too hot and too uncomfortable for going on safari. If you do get rained on, you'll be stuck sitting in wet jeans for hours on the drive back to camp.

Wear: a hat and sunglasses

Both a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses provide protection from the sun, which is necessary when you spend a half or whole day riding in an open vehicle through the plains. It may be less necessary if you're taking a tropical safari through a rain forest, but still, bring both.

Tip

Remember, if you're going on a safari south of the equator (such as South America or sub-Saharan Africa), the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. So December and January may be the hottest and rainiest months in your destination, and June and July may be the coolest and driest. If you have a safari booked, contact the tour company to get specific advice about dressing properly for the climate and season.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.