Safari clothes are a serious affair in Africa. Yes, it is a bit “old-fashioned,” but fashions like the proper safari outfit never die. Unlike certain parts of the world, you won’t be laughed at if you show up in all khaki on a game reserve.
While we are not seasoned guides, we have spent a year in the bush. We have been to all of the major parks of Southern and East Africa and put our favorite clothes to the test. We have a severe addiction to finding and testing the best garments on the market to form the best safari knowledge possible.
This article can dispel some myths about what to wear on safari and back it up with solid packing advice. For more reading, check out our Africa packing list and tips. Let’s get some expert advice on what to wear in Africa and where to buy safari clothes.
What Clothes to Pack for a Safari?
You don’t need an endless collection of safari clothes in your luggage. We’re big fans of versatility and minimalism. When you overpack for a safari, it can become a burden. You are likely traveling to the wilds of the African bush. An entire wardrobe of clothes is unnecessary. In addition, the standard form of transportation is a small Cessna bush plane or overland truck, so a heavy suitcase of clothes will not work.
We break down the clothes that help you look the part, but any safari expert will agree there is no set dress code or safari outfit. Let’s start with some safari packing lists and what to wear on safari and then progress to recommendations for safari clothes.
What Season to go on Safari?
Weather plays a significant role in what you wear. Most African climates do not have your standard four-season environment. In most of Africa, seasons vary between dry and wet seasons, especially in Eastern Africa. The dry season in East Africa is hot. However, Southern Africa’s opposite, where the dry season means cool evenings and mornings.
Then it flips. The rainy season in East Africa brings cooler weather patterns and perpetuates constant spring-like weather in Tanzania and Kenya. In contrast, the rainy season in South Africa can coincide with its hottest months. The hottest temperature in Southern Africa occurs before the first rains as humidity slowly creeps up, leading to dramatic thunderstorms.
The season impacts what you’ll wear to stay comfortable and the color of your clothing. We suggest you wear khaki, brown, and tan during the dry season. Then, it’s time to bust out the browns and greens in the rainy or green season. You dress to match the vegetation.
Where to go on safari?
The first decision in packing for a safari is where you go on safari. Africa has a vast range of landscapes, vegetation, and climates. It would help if you packed for where in Africa you’re headed; that’s pretty straightforward.
We have another post on the best destinations to go on safari, along with our favorite parks, camps, and lodges. While you’re at it, you can read up on our favorite safari animals to see while traveling. Deciding where to go on safari is tough as you have many options!
You have three primary regions for a safari divided into Southern, Central, and Eastern Africa. Southern Africa tends to be arid and sees a wide range of temperature shifts. Central Africa is typically hot and humid but can receive cool evenings. East Africa is your classic destination and is famous for its perpetual spring.
What to Wear in Southern Africa?
In Southern Africa, the climate varies across the region. Summers can be blisteringly hot, while winters are freezing in the back of a game vehicle. Many visitors arrive in the winter, thinking they’ll be in the hot bush, only to find zero-degree weather in an open car. Yikes!
The key to a comfortable safari outfit is layers. We often pack and wear layers to adjust to the wide range of temperatures you can experience on a typical day. While the morning can be freezing in arid locations like Botswana by midday, it can be hot so layers will save you.
Packing list for Southern Africa
- 1 x Warm hat
- 2 x Long sleeve shirt
- 1 x Shorts
- 1 x Bathing suit (Men’s) (Women’s)
- 1 x Sandals
- 1 x Safari Boots
- 1 x Safari Hat
What to Wear in Central & East Africa?
Here the weather is more temperate year-round. It is known as the “never-ending spring.” However, morning game drives can still be chilly, so convertible pants and a light jacket are great options.
Always come prepared for rain, given the time of year. We’ve been in several of the famous thunderstorms of Africa, including a flash flood in Tanzania!
Packing list for Central and East Africa
- 5 x Athletic socks
- Plenty of undergarments
- 2 x Short sleeve shirts
- 4 x Quick-dry shirts
- 1 x Pairs of pants
- 1 x Rain jacket
- 1 x Fleece
- 2 x Shorts
- 1 x Sun hat
- 5 x Athletic socks
- 1 x Bathing suit
- 1 x Safari Boots
- 1 x Safari Hat
The perfect safari shirt will make all the difference in being comfortable throughout the day. A synthetic shirt will give the most practicality, while cotton or linen shirts have a more timeless look.
Organic textiles like cotton, wool, or hemp can provide an excellent base for warmth on a cold morning or a fantastic evening. Synthetic advantages mostly relate to quick-drying, stain resistance, and keeping cool. We recommend long sleeve shirts as it provides UV and bug protection.
Below is a collection of some of the best safari shirts we’ve found on the market. It is a guide about what to look for; the best fit for you may not be on this list. We’d also suggest you check out our post on safari shirts.
|Columbia Tamiami II||$50||Women | Men|
|Patagonia Long Sleeve Sun Stretch Shirt||$119||Women | Men|
|REI Co-op Sahara||$59||Women | Men|
|Unbound Merino Wool Shirt||$85||Women | Men|
|Classic Linen shirt||$85||Women | Men|
Columbia Tamiami II
MSRP: $50 | Material: Ripstop Polyester
The Columbia Tamiami II Shirt is a great safari shirt with various features for a comfortable outdoor experience. With its blend of Omni-Wick moisture management and antimicrobial treatment, this shirt is perfect for hot and humid climates, actively breathing and wicking away moisture for fast evaporation. Although, the material is heavier and feels more crinkly than a typical shirt. Its heavier weight gives the Tamiami II superior durability.
While this shirt’s loose cut and outdoor style may not appeal to everyone, its practical features make it an excellent option for those seeking an affordable, well-designed safari shirt. It’s not the most stylish shirt in the world, but for around $50, it’s an excellent value.
Shop For Columbia Tamiami II
Women’s Safari Shirt
Men’s Safari Shirt
Patagonia Long Sleeve Sun Stretch Shirt
MSRP – $119 | Material – Recycled Nylon/Polyester
We love the Patagonia Long Sleeve Sun Stretch Shirt as it’s practical and comfortable. A large part of this is the fabric that blends recycled nylon and polyester. The result is a safari shirt that is quick-drying and lightweight. That lightweight fabric is ideal for Africa’s hot and humid conditions. In addition, the material has enough stretch to not limit mobility, despite its button-down style.
In addition to its technical features, the Patagonia Long Sleeve Sun Stretch Shirt also boasts stylish western-inspired drop-in pockets, making it ideal for carrying essentials. The shirt also features collar snaps to keep the collar from flapping in windy conditions and a hidden lens cleaner to keep optics clear. Our only complaint about the shirt is the high price tag.
Shop For Long Sleeve Sun Stretch Shirt
REI Co-op Sahara
MSRP – $59 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
The REI Co-op Sahara Long Shirt is an excellent choice for a safari shirt. It offers a timeless, versatile look for travel, safari, or hiking. We love that REI delivers a comfortable midweight shirt with fantastic value. Along with reliable performance, the shirt comes in a range of pattern and color options suitable for the bush.
Features include two front breast pockets, roll-up tabs for the sleeves, a sunglass keeper loop, and a back vent with a mesh yoke underlay that helps keep you cool. The front breast pockets are convenient for storing small essentials such as sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. Outside of a slightly loose fit and some temperature issues, it’s a solid value.
Shop For REI Co-op Sahara Shirt
Women’s Safari Shirt
Men’s Safari Shirt
Unbound Merino Wool shirt
MSRP – $85 | Material – Merino Wool
Our favorite t-shirts for safari and travel are from Unbound Merino. A merino wool shirt is a worthy investment and one of the best travel clothes for any trip. Despite the price, we’ve already transitioned much of our wardrobe to the material. Wools shirts stay fresh longer and do an excellent job at temperature management. Best of all, the heavier fabric looks better.
Despite being wool, the shirts can handle the heat surprisingly well, far better than their cotton counterparts. Performance is not as good in heat as a synthetic material like nylon or polyester, but it is far more comfortable and soft against the skin. We recommend the v-neck cut for a slightly more feminine shape for women.
Shop For An Merino Wool Shirt
Everlane Linen Shirt
MSRP – $85 | Material – Linen
I like to pack a technical long-sleeve shirt for a safari, but it’s tough to beat a classic shirt from a classic material like linen. It looks and feels excellent. There is no better summer shirt. Best of all, the material remains practical as the linen has anti-microbial properties and fights against odor.
It’s tough to find decent linen shirts online, but I love the quality and value of Everlane’s linen shirts. You can often score a deal, so if you stain or snag the shirt, it won’t end the world. Amazon makes some cheap linen shirts, but like most things from the company, they’re poor quality.
Shop For A Linen Shirt
With safari pants, you should keep the activity in mind. Light pants will be much more practical than shorts if you plan for bush walks. Pants provide excellent protection from mosquitos, a vital feature in malaria regions.
We suggest bottoms with some stretch on all trips, such as hiking pants, not jeans, chinos, or khakis. New outdoor gear utilizes synthetic materials for strength, temperature management, and flexibility.
When you hop into a safari vehicle, your pants need some flexibility. Temperature management will be critical in hot and humid environments where wearing shorts, like in the jungle for gorilla trekking, is not a good idea.
|KUHL Freeflex/Free Radikl Pants||$109||Women | Men|
|REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants||$69||Women | Men|
|Fjallraven Vidda Pro||$175||Women | Men|
|prAna Summit/Vaha Pant||$95||Women | Men|
KUHL Freeflex/Free Radikl Pants
MSRP – $109 | Material – Enduro Fabric / Freeflex
Kuhl’s ENDURO™ blend fabric in their men’s Free Radikl and women’s Freeflex Roll-Up pants is a testament to their commitment to quality and durability. We prefer the comfort of lightweight synthetic pants as most safaris occur in hot weather. These safari pants are lightweight and super comfortable.
Whether you’re a rugged outdoorsman or a casual adventurer, Kuhl’s technical pants offer UPF 50 sun protection, six pockets, and the ultimate in year-round performance, making them the trusted choice for any outdoor excursion.
Shop For KUHL Free Radikl/Freeflex Pants
REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
MSRP – $69 | Material – Cotton/Poly
The REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants combine style, comfort, and durability for an excellent safari pant. The pants come in two different designs based on gender. The men’s pants are traditional, while the women’s are joggers. No matter the design style, both styles use a blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex fabric. This allows them to wick away moisture and move with the body for a comfortable fit.
The pants have a wide range of pockets, including traditional hand and back pockets, a drop-in tool pocket at the side, and a pencil pocket at the thigh. We found all the pockets to be helpful. They also play well into the slightly loose fit of the pants, which provides comfort all day.
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Fjallraven Vidda Pro
MSRP – $175 | Material – Polyester/Cotton
The Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers are our favorite adventure pants. The pants use a G-1000 Eco Fabric, a durable waxed canvas material in construction. It’s a tough material that is abrasion resistant, but due to its excellent fit, features, and smart panel construction, the pants are super comfortable.
Despite the heavy fabric, the pants feature two ample ventilation zips on both legs, allowing you to dump heat effectively and efficiently. The pants also include many functional pockets, such as two large pockets, a knife pocket, and an axe loop. Even if you don’t need the robust features of these safari pants, they have a very cool utilitarian look.
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prAna Summit/Vaha Pant
MSRP – $79 | Material – Hemp / Elastane
I spend so much time traveling in these pants they’ve become one of my favorite pairs. I now have a couple of pairs of Vaha pants. The prAna Vaha Pants and Summit Pants are for yoga and climbing, but we use them for everything. The women’s pant is the Summit pant, and the men’s is the Vaha pant. They’re great for a relaxed evening around camp or the lodge and can double as pajamas.
Hemp and recycled polyester give breathability to the pants with quick-dry and odor-fighting qualities and are a heck of an eco-friendly product. It’s a very relaxed and soft pant that feels like a regular pair of pants. The style works for almost all women, but the casual style may put some men off. We’re big fans of prAna, so we highly recommend checking out some of their products.
Shop For prAna Pants
Do not fear wearing shorts while on safari! Most safaris are very easy-going, involving riding in the back of the vehicle. You don’t need pants to ride in a game viewer, and it is tough to beat shorts on a hot day!
Whatever you pack, you should consider the location, time of year, and activity level. We spend most of our time in Africa in shorts and sandals. If you want to learn more, read about our favorite safari shorts.
Men’s Safari Shorts
|Patagonia Quandry Shorts||$79||Link|
|Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts||$50||Link|
|Vuori Kore Shorts||$68||Link|
Patagonia Quandry Shorts
MSRP – $79 | Material – Nylon/Spandex
Patagonia’s Quandry shorts are classic safari shorts that offer comfort and versatility, making them great for safari adventures. We love the clean cut and subtle pocket of these lightweight men’s shorts, which also have a slimmer fit that moves well with your body thanks to the lightweight material that stretches when you do.
There are a few drawbacks to the shorts. It mainly concerns synthetic material, which can polarize a small minority of wearers. Consider looking elsewhere if you’re sensitive to these materials.
Shop For Men’s Quandry Short
Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
MSRP – $50 | Material – Nylon
The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts have great value and good all-around performance. These 100% nylon shorts are breathable and quick-drying, perfect as safari clothes.
With deep and easily accessible hand pockets, three large cargo-style pockets, and a zippered security pocket on the left thigh, these shorts provide plenty of storage space. The Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts are an excellent choice for those looking for solid performance at a lower cost. They’ve been a best seller for years for a good reason.
Shop For Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
Vuori Kore Shorts
MSRP – $68 | Material – Polyester/Elastane
Vuori is known for its athleisure clothes, and its Kore Shorts are some of our favorites from the brand. While not the most technical option, the Kore Short’s uber-comfortable fabric makes them perfect for various activities. They’re durable, practical, and comfortable for safari and everyday wear. It’s a casual version of safari shorts, but they look great paired with a t-shirt.
These shorts won’t pair well with a button-down shirt, but work for a relaxed look with a t-shirt. They are relatively expensive for lightweight athletic shorts; however, we believe the price reflects the quality. Lightweight athletic shorts are perfect for safari as most days are spent riding in the back of a game viewer.
Shop For Men’s Kore Shorts
Women’s Safari Shorts
|Columbia Saturday Trail Short||$45||Link|
|prAna Elle Shorts||$59||Link|
|The North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts||$45||Link|
Columbia Saturday Trail Short
MSRP – $45 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
The Columbia brand is always good for affordable outdoor wear. The Saturday Trail Shorts are perfect for a safari in Africa as they provide UPF 50 sun protection and insect repellant. Their stretchable fabric makes them ideal for sitting in a safari vehicle for long hours throughout the day.
Even though these are safari shorts, they are still fashionable enough for dinner and other activities around your safari. The best part about these shorts is that you can wear them daily life after your African safari experience. They are perfectly acceptable for hiking or running errands around town.
Shop For Women’s Saturday Trail Shorts
prAna Elle Shorts
MSRP – $59 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
The prAna Elle Shorts are ideal for women seeking comfort and versatility on their safari adventure. The shorts blend organic cotton and spandex for excellent breathability and stretch. The result is a super comfortable pair of shorts that look great. As prAna generally strives for sustainable materials, the cotton is Fair Trade Certified and organic.
The downside of these shorts is they’re primarily cotton, so they are not the best-performing shorts for safari. However, they feel more versatile as everyday shorts that suit various daily activities. With a mid-rise, fitted design and available in 3″ and 5″ inseam options, the prAna Elle Shorts are the perfect addition to any adventurous woman’s wardrobe.
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The North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts
MSRP – $45 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
The North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts are perfect for safaris and other adventures. They’re made with a soft herringbone fabric that stretches for mobility and has water-repellent, sweat-wicking, and sun-protecting properties.
The shorts come in various colors, including khaki, and have a comfortable waistband, hand pockets, and a secure-zip pocket. The shorts are also adjustable thanks to a stretch drawcord.
These skew a little younger as they are for more relaxed travelers. However, there are no rules, and these shorts still look great. You spend most of your time on safari in the back of a game viewer, so comfortable shorts are an excellent choice.
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No matter what season you go on safari, you should at least bring a jacket in case it gets cold (we pack a down jacket on most trips). However, we suggest a safari jacket if you want something more stylish for warmth and photos. The jackets below provide some warmth but are light enough for mild days. If it’s frigid, you’ll want something warmer.
Men’s Safari Jackets
Orvis Heritage Field Jacket
MSRP – $275 | Material – Waxed Cotton Canvas
The Orvis Heritage Field jacket is one of the company’s best-selling products and makes for a tremendous safari jacket. There is a lot to love about the jacket, but it starts with the dry-waxed cotton canvas. It provides excellent protection from the elements.
The rugged protection makes it highly versatile, as it’s tough enough to resist thick brushes and stylish enough to wear around town. The jacket is also highly functional with two snap button bellow pockets, handwarmer pockets, and one interior breast pocket.
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Everlane The Bomber Jacket
MSRP – $128 | Material – Cotton/Polyester
Everlane’s The Bomber Jacket is a modern version of a classic flight jacket. It’s a stylish jacket that is perfect for mild weather. We love the clean lines and timeless design that make it ideal for any setting or destination. While it’s not the classic safari style, its timeless design still works well.
We love that you can wear the jacket up or down to suit any occasion. It just feels like a tremendously versatile jacket. The khaki color is a great complement to any modern safari outfit.
Shop For Everlane The Bomber Jacket
Women’s Safari Jackets
Barbour Beadnell Jacket
MSRP – $385 | Material – Waxed Canvas
The Classic Beadnell jacket by Barbour is the one you’ll reach for every season of the year. Its waxed cotton exterior looks gorgeous and highly functional as it supplies wind and water resistance.
We appreciate the women’s fit that keeps an excellent shape that is done with front and back panels. The one downside is it’s too warm for hot destinations, but it is ready to tackle any cool weather. It’s an expensive jacket, but we feel it’s a worthy investment that will last a lifetime.
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Banana Republic Norfolk Jacket
MSRP – $250 | Material – Cotton / Linen
The Norfolk Linen-Cotton Jacket is a statement piece that complements any safari look perfectly. Its picturesque riding jacket style is right out of our favorite safari movie. However, we don’t love it purely for its style as it’s reasonably practical.
The downside is that it’s a jacket for style and not the most durable or practical. It’s not going to protect from weather or supply much warmth. However, we love that it’s machine washable, so you won’t have to run it to the dry cleaner when it gets dusty on safari. Another excellent suggestion for a safari jacket from Banana Republic is the Heritage Suede Shirt Jacket.
Shop For Banana Republic Norfolk Jacket
Safari Dresses & Jumpsuits
Wearing a safari dress in Africa is always a great idea! Don’t be the girl who only goes on safari in khaki pants and a long-sleeved top. Safari dresses are a thing and can dress up your African safari. One can be as comfortable with the right safari style as shorts and a shirt.
|Patagonia Fleetwith Romper||$129||Link|
|Scotch & Soda Safari Dress||$165||Link|
|Outerknown S.E.A. Suit||$175||Link|
|Kuhl Vantage Dress||$85||Link|
Patagonia Fleetwith Romper
MSRP – $129 | Material -Recycled Polyester/Spandex
I love Patagonia and its brand ethos around sustainability. The Patagonia Fleetwith Romper is Bluesign certified and super comfortable. While the Fleetwith is available as a dress, I prefer the romper best. It’s just so functional, comfortable, and cute!
The one-piece romper is made from a 91% recycled polyester/9% spandex blend, moves with your body, resists wrinkles, and quickly dries. The romper and dress make for excellent safari wear, and they are so versatile you may end up living in them at home.
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Scotch & Soda Safari Dress
MSRP – $165 | Material -Tencel
This fashion-forward safari dress from Scotch & Soda delivers everything I want in style. The classic off-white look, cuffs, and buttons down the front will feel right at home on a safari.
It’s made from a lightweight material called Tencel that is eco-friendly and operates in a closed-loop system. That soft material is light and breathes easily, so you’re comfortable and cool in the African sun. Be warned, this is a super popular item from the brand, and they regularly sell out.
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Outerknown S.E.A. Suit
MSRP – $175 | Material – Cotton/Linen
Finding a more perfect jumpsuit than the Outerknown S.E.A. Suit for travel, safari, and life is tough. The fit, material, and colors are perfect! It all comes down to the quality of cotton and linen blend material.
The S.E.A. stands for Social and Environmental Accountability as the jumpsuit uses sustainable materials. Organic cotton and buttons made from tagua palm nuts make the Outerknown S.E.A. a winner. We prefer sustainable products when we’re out enjoying nature.
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Kuhl Vantage Dress
MSRP – $85 | Material – Polyester/Spandex
The Kühl Vantage Dress is super casual, comfortable, and practical. It features lightweight fabric that is soft and wicks away moisture. A polyester and spandex blend allows the fabric to stretch in four ways to move comfortably with your body.
Synthetic materials also allow the technical dress to resist odors, stains, and wrinkles. Yet it remains super lightweight and comfortable in warm weather. Best of all, the drawcord and cut make the dress flattering for various body types. The green color is also an excellent choice for safari!
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A good safari boot is the one thing that is a must when it comes to safari clothes and bushwalks. Sure, you can dress up in khaki, leather, leopard print, and dark green, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much about what you wear on safari if you don’t have the shoe.
|Blundstone Chelsea Boots||$229||Women | Men|
|Danner Mountain 600||$210||Women | Men|
|Merrell Moab 3||$145||Women | Men|
Blundstone Chelsea Boots
MSRP: $229 | Material: Leather
Blundstones are our go-to travel boots and make excellent safari boots. This boot is stylish, functional, and practical for any travel adventure. While it’s not a “technical” boot, it impressively handles moderate hikes and terrain. Style is a strong suit here, with a wide range of leather finishes to match your taste.
As they use premium leather, they require some upkeep with leather treatment to ensure longevity and water resistance. The Blundstone Chelsea Boot is a solid go-to for any stylish and practical safari adventure. We love these boots!
Shop For Classic Blundstones BL550
Danner Mountain 600
MSRP: $210 | Material: Suede Leather
The Danner Mountain 600 blends the latest boot tech with classic style for a reliable safari boot. Crafted from waterproof suede leather, the Mountain 600 features Danner Dry waterproof protection to keep your feet dry and comfortable no matter the conditions. TPU heel frames provide additional support and stability, while OrthoLite® footbeds offer cushioning and comfort.
It’s worth noting that Danner recommends sizing down half a size from what you typically wear, so keep that in mind when ordering. Overall, the Danner Mountain 600 Boot perfectly balances performance and aesthetics, making it an excellent addition to any safari packing list.
Shop For Danner Mountain 600 Boots
Merrell Moab 3
MSRP: $145 | Material: Suede leather/Mesh
If you’re in the market for hiking boots, the Merrell Moab 3 Boots are a popular choice. They’re made of leather, textile, and synthetic materials and are comfortable straight out of the box. Plus, with Merrell’s expertise in hiking boots, you can rest assured that your feet will be in good hands for long-distance walks.
We have owned several pairs of Moabs and can attest to their quality over the years. However, one thing to remember is that these boots are less specialized. While they are comfortable immediately, the soles are soft, making them less ideal for avid hikers. However, for everyone else, Merrell Moabs are a solid choice for comfortable safari boots that won’t disappoint.
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A safari hat is the perfect accessory for safari clothes. It’s not just about fashion as it keeps the sun off your face. Since the equator splits Africa, expect intense UV rays. No accessory is better suited or more fashionable than a safari hat—it feels right and never out of place.
|Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat||$99||Link|
|Columbia Bora Bora Booney II||$30||Link|
|Scala All-Season Crushable Hat||$60||Link|
10 Best Safari Hats for Men and Women
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
MSRP: $99 | Material: Nylon
Tilley has long been famed for its sun protection hats. They’ve seen the world and been on more than a few adventures. The Tilley LTM6 Airflo holds its shape, and the material has a stylish look. Tilley is set apart because they guarantee their hats for life against wear and tear.
A wide brim keeps the sun off your hat. What I love in addition to the guarantee are the features such as its ability to float in the water and a hidden pocket to store an I.D. or money. It has everything you could want in a great safari hat. Although the higher price point may deter some – just keep in mind it has a lifetime guarantee.
Shop For Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
Columbia Bora Bora Booney II
MSRP: $30 | Material: Nylon
I talk about stylish hats, but this Columbia safari cap is the least attractive. However, this hat is the most practical and cheap safari hat out of our selection. It still looks pretty good for a synthetic floppy hat that you can stuff and crush anytime.
The Bora Bora is made of nylon, is well-vented, packs well, and features UPF technology. Comfort is the strongest characteristic of this hat, as it keeps your head cool while sitting snuggly on your head. Unlike leather, which can be itchy, you’ll forget you’re even wearing this hat while in the bush. I love the built-in sweatband to keep moisture out of your eyes.
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Scala All-Season Crushable Hat
MSRP: $60 | Material: Wool Felt
We love the Scala All-Season Crushable Hat. It’s made of wool felt and is an all-around great-looking olive green stylish safari hat. The style is similar to a fedora with a very Western vibe. It looks great, and the price point isn’t bad, either.
The best part about it is that for such a good-looking hat, the material still allows you to crush the hat to fit inside your luggage. Because no one likes to have to wear their hat home on a 15-hour flight. Once you take it out of your luggage, it snaps right back into shape!
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It all depends on where you’re going, but Africa has some of the best beaches in the world. Not to mention some stunning hotels, rivers, lakes, lodges, and waterfalls all present the ability to go for a dip. Plenty of great beach lodges make for a wonderful and relaxing end to a busy safari. You can read about the best hotels in Zanzibar or Diani Beach! You might not consider safari clothing, but we believe it is essential.
For a fantastic women’s swimsuit brand, we recommend Londre. They make high-quality swimsuits for women. Many of their pieces are stylish yet supportive. Vuori makes fantastic lightweight Cruise Board Shorts in various prints and colors. They’re super comfortable, quickly dry, and the cut is perfect. We don’t like board shorts that are too long or loose, as they look sloppy.
Shop For A Swimsuit
You’ll need a good safari bag to carry and pack all these safari clothes. You may take a bush flight or two if you’re going on safari. I recommend packing light, as most small planes severely limit baggage weight. We have been on flights where we are only allowed 15 kg a person, and some flights allow 25 kg. Make sure only to pack what you need.
The Best Safari Bags and Backpacks
|The North Face Base Camp Voyager Duffel||$155||Link|
|Nomatic Travel Bag||$289||Link|
|Filson Medium Rugged Twill Duffel Bag||$575||Link|
The North Face Base Camp Voyager Duffel
MSRP: $155 | Capacities: 62L, 42L, 32L
The North Face Base Camp Voyager is one of the most functional duffel bags for safari we’ve ever tested. It’s an update to the Base Camp Duffel Bag, and we can confidently say we love every charge they made to the classic duffel bag. It starts with a sustainable build as the bag is made with 100% recycled materials. Its outer material is a TPU polyester that is ultra-durable and water-resistant, so your stuff is well protected.
The bag comes in three sizes 32L, 42L, and 62L. While we recommend the 62L for a safari as it has more room to pack for a week on the road, the two smaller sizes have a convenient laptop sleeve. The one big downside is the lack of a cross-body strap for a traditional duffel bag carry.
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Nomatic Travel Bag
MSRP: $289 | Capacities: 40L
The Nomatic Travel Bag is a good travel bag for short trips. It’s a bag built around the premise of one-bag travel, with all the features you need for a seamless safari. However, all those features can make the bag a little clunky and difficult to pack effectively. The bag’s exterior tarpaulin material on the top panel provides water and abrasion resistance.
At 40L, the bag is best suited for 3-5 day one bag trips or can support a suitcase for extended journeys. Its sleek design and intelligent features make it an excellent fit for everyone, from business travelers to backpackers.
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Filson Medium Rugged Twill Duffel Bag
MSRP: $575 | Capacities: 43L, 73L
Filson delivers beautiful products with attention to detail. The Medium Rugged Twill Duffel Bag makes for a gorgeous safari bag. Its unparalleled build quality assures us the bag should last a lifetime or, at the very least, a decade. Plus, it comes in three color styles to match any style.
A roomy interior has enough storage space, and two small internal side pockets work well for small essentials. Our only complaint would be for a better internal organization, which can be solved with packing cubes. Its 43L is enough for a savvy packer, or you can opt for the large version at 73L. Although, we prefer the 43L as we don’t trust airlines to check the 73L for international travel.
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REI Coop Down Jacket ($99)
If your safari jacket is not warm enough, we recommend a packable down jacket. REI Co-op Down 2.0 is a down jacket that only costs $100, which is about as inexpensive as they come in the down jacket world.
When moving to the next destination, the jacket packs into the left pocket and occupies minimal space in your luggage. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle a light rain, snow, and wind. We suggest more safari jackets here!
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Travel Sandals ($50)
You won’t want to live in safari boots. Good sandals are great for comfort on long travel days and under the hot African sun, like in Namibia or Egypt.
Like the locals, we spend 90% of our time in a pair of sandals when traveling around Africa. We only use our boots on bush walks, long hikes, and dirty streets.
Our favorite brand is Rainbow Sandals, as they last forever and are super comfortable once the leather forms to your foot. Another attractive option for women is the Sanuk Yoga Sling 2. If thong flip-flops aren’t great for your feet, choose something with more support. Some great options would be the Birkenstock Arizona, Teva Original, or Chaco Z/Cloud.
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Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses ($109)
Polarized sunglasses help with contrast and spotting wildlife. It can be dusty in the back of a game vehicle. Then much of East Africa sits on the equator, which means UV rays are much stronger, so eye protection is super important.
Smith Optics Lodown 2.0 makes excellent active sunglasses that look sharp enough to wear around a posh seaside town. For a more formal and stylish brand, we love Persol and Rayban for their timeless style.
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Buff Headwear ($15)
We travel around with Buff Headwear, and they’re some of our favorite travel accessories that we’ve recommended a handful of times. They’re great for keeping sweat out of our eyes on a hike.
Or in dust out of your face when riding down a dusty road, which you’ll need on safari. They offer sun protection, can act as a scarf, and many other things. Buy one and fall in love with it.
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Grayl GeoPress Purifier Water Bottle ($99)
It’s not advisable to drink tap water in most of Africa. We travel with a water bottle that purifies water for safe drinking water. Our favorite is the Grayl GeoPress Purifier bottle. It saves money, reduces plastic waste, and ensures our water is safe and free of viruses and other waterborne illnesses.
The Grayl bottle is not only practical but also innovative in design. A press-like system effectively filters out sediment, bacteria, and heavy metals, leaving only clean and safe water. Its wide-mouth top makes it easy to drink and fill, and its sleek design fits comfortably in any bag or backpack.
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Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 ($250)
A great safari accessory to have is a pair of safari binoculars. Nikon has long been a reputable name in binocular manufacturing, and Monarch 5 Binoculars are an excellent example.
The 42mm lens diameter allows for excellent low-light viewing, while the body is built for extreme use – sounds perfect for a safari.
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Sun Bum Natural Sunscreen ($15)
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa as you’re close to the Equator. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house, as finding pharmacies outside South Africa is tough.
We highly recommend getting an eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. They’re mineral-based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans. If you’re not going to swim in the ocean, go with a reliable name brand — granted, runoff often still ends in our oceans and streams.
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Insect Repellant ($15)
We recommend packing a bottle of insect repellant with Permethrin so you’ll scare away those annoying biting demons. It reduces the chances of Malaria or Yellow Fever.
Remember that DEET can destroy plastics, so mind your sunglasses or camera when applying. It’s good to bring a small bottle, but it’s easy to find great insect repellent all over Africa as it’s commonly used to prevent malaria.
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Elements of Good Safari Garments
There are a couple of key elements to look at with each piece of safari clothing. While you may picture yourself as an adventure seeker, remember that you are a guest, and your safari guide will handle the nitty-gritty.
Unless you’re driving across Africa like us, you’ll be safe. The clothes you pack should be for comfort, not some rugged adventure. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, you may as well leave it at home.
You’ll want to pack light. The days are often busy, so multiple wardrobe changes aren’t in the mix. Solid clothes that are casual yet stylish enough to wear to dinner in a lodge over a five-course meal.
Versatility can include the right material, fit, and functionality. For example, a good long sleeve shirt can keep you warm in the morning but cool during the day in a way that short-sleeve or tee shirts fail.
This one is key. Africa can be hard on clothes, even on a short trip. Climbing in and out of a safari vehicle can rip a weak pair of pants or shorts. Look for clothes for Africa that stretch a little.
You also have a lot of dust and sun exposure. If you’re involved in conservation efforts, on a walking safari, or spending time outside a game vehicle. In that case, you need decent safari clothes that hold up to the elements.
The best way is often to stick with solid name brands that we trust when ordering online or to shop in your local store, although that can be difficult with limited selections.
With a safari, you’ve come to see nature, and that’s what you will encounter. So, your clothing needs to be well suited to the environments of Africa. We try to choose solid natural materials like hemp, linen, leather, or wool for our outdoor wear.
Manmade materials such as nylon or polyester are other great options, as they are excellent at moisture management and protection. The only material we’re not massive fans of is cotton, but it’s often the softest and warmest material with great value. I always read the tags and materials on outdoor apparel before I make a purchase and consider its intended purpose.
Things like having pockets can make or break good safari gear and wear. Where else will you stash things like lip balm, sunscreen, or even a pair of binoculars? The day-to-day wear of clothes is crucial because if you feel uncomfortable in the bush, you’ll likely look ridiculous. You aren’t walking the runways of Paris but spending time in the bush—care about your look, but not too much.
Safari clothing should blend in with the environment. You should wear beige, green, and brown colored clothes. They are the staple colors of safari wear because they blend into the environment and can provide a better game-viewing experience.
While wearing, bright colors such as red are said to scare off animals and make you stand out. This may or may not be true. Only the animals know for sure. Of course, the Maasai Warriors in Kenya and Tanzania have been wearing red for centuries!
That being said, neutral colors do a great job of hiding dirt and dust, which will be plenty of on a drive or walk through the bush. White clothes aren’t going to stay white very long, and dark colors are believed to attract tsetse flies. Trust us; you do not want to become familiar with tsetse flies!
For example, wearing long pants and greens is advised when gorilla trekking. When on foot, wearing colors that blend well into the environment and a good pair of safari boots is always recommended.
We love greens, beige, and khaki just as much as the next wannabe Merryl Streep in Out of Africa. However, you will spend a lot of time in a car on game drives in Africa. Wearing these colors help you blend in and don’t bake your body under the hot African sun, but in the end, colors don’t matter.
Tips On Safari Clothes
- Safari Clothes Are Not Required – You do not have to wear special safari clothes. Most time on safari is spent in a vehicle where clothes choice does not matter much.
- Blend – Attempt to blend in. Remember to wear a safari outfit and clothes suited for the environment.
- No Animal Prints – Don’t wear animal prints or some ridiculous getup. You’re not bushwacking through the African jungle. This isn’t Jumanji. You’ll spend most of your time in the back of a vehicle. So, wear comfortable clothes that will not stain by dirt, offer sun protection, and are comfortable from the heat or cold.
- It Can Get Cold – Mind the weather. It can get cold in the back of a game vehicle in Africa early morning or at night. Make sure to pack a nice jacket. I didn’t recommend any here – anything that breaks the wind should do.
- Ditch Dark Blue – DO NOT wear blue in Eastern Africa. Blue attracts the Tsetse fly, which is not a myth.
- Don’t Overpack – You only need a handful of shirts and pants. You are in the African bush, and there is no need for multiple wardrobe changes. However, always to pack ample underwear and socks.
- Relax – Keep it simple at five-star lodges in Africa. Things are still casual.
- Sunglasses – Good sunglasses will save your eyes from staring at landscapes all day.
- Layer – Make sure to pack in layers. It will go from cold in the morning to hot at night and then back to evening time.
- Light Rain Jacket – Bring a light rain jacket, depending on the season. Most Safari companies and lodges come prepared in this aspect and will provide their guests with nice thick ponchos, but if you’re doing it on your don’t forget a rain jacket.
- Pockets! – We love clothing with pockets to carry sunblock, chapstick, flashlight, camera, or binoculars. It’s better than having to juggle around a bag. We already have our safari cameras to contend with in the back of a game viewer.
Clothing Brands We Recommend
Where to buy safari clothes? Finding a store that carries safari clothes is tough outside South Africa. I would recommend you shop online. We like to choose quality. A good safari outfit is versatile, long-lasting, and timeless. Spending the extra dough to buy reputable brands is always a good idea.
- Patagonia – You’ll know we love this brand if you’ve read our other packing guides. They make great quality clothes that hold up.
- REI – This is one of our favorite stores! There may be no specific REI safari clothes, but you can find many products that will serve you well in the bush.
- Columbia – This is a great outdoor company with affordable products. We tend to like Patagonia more, but the brand costs significantly more for a slight quality improvement.
- First Ascent – You can’t find this brand in America, but if shopping in South Africa, they make some great quality clothes.
- prAna – They’re a closer runner-up to Patagonia for style and quality in outdoor apparel.
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggest camps and lodges then present you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day to select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you by booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
3 thoughts on “Ultimate Safari Clothes Guide • What To Wear On Safari In Africa”
Cameron & Natasha! EXCELLENT site! Lots of great info! We’ll be heading from the US to Kenya and Tanzania in August to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (not as old as we sound!) along with our adult daughter and 11-year-old granddaughter (who will celebrate her 12th birthday in Tanzania!) My husband and I visited that region 47 years ago and have always wanted to return! I’m sure we will find it to be quite a bit different now. My granddaughter is psyched to go safari clothing shopping! Typical adolescent. So totally looking forward to this very special family time in a very special place….Warm regards, Hope
This will be our first time visiting Africa. The information you presented was clear and concise. It was nice to get a real “travelers” perception on what to expect and how to prepare without the “push” to buy a certain brand name item or overpriced items from their website. A few websites that I visited before yours were more of an advertisement page written by someone who is using their knowledge of the Lion King movie as a bases for the information and their recommendations. Most of our traveling experience has been in Europe and Asia. I am looking forward to Africa.
Red Wing Iron Rangers most assuredly do not have steel toes. They were designed as work boots in an era before steel toes were required. They have long been part of Red Wing’s heritage line, and are sold as fashion/casual footwear. That said, they are of traditional construction and are high quality and could serve very well as a travel boot. However, traditional construction means that they need to be broken in to be comfortable. New owners should buy them up to half a year before an overseas trip to allow time for full break-in.