Ultimate Safari Clothes Guide: What To Wear On Safari In Africa

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Best Safari Clothes

Safari clothes are a serious affair in Africa. Yes, it is a bit “old fashioned,” but some fashions never die. Unlike, certain parts of the world you won’t be laughed at for showing up in all khaki. In fact, there is even a South African brand called Khaki Fever that specializes in all khaki garments. 

We’ve been in Africa going on ten months now and have been on more than a few safaris. Since entering Africa we’ve been on safari in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. In fact we’ve been to all of the best places to go on safari in Southern Africa.

Okay, we know that’s a lot of safari and it’s likely the safari clothes you’ll wear won’t have to hold up for a year of non-stop traveling. We’re different like that. However, we have a serious research addiction to find the best garments on the market. That combined with our experience, we’ve got the makings for some expert advice on what to wear in Africa. 


Table Of Contents


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. Why? People tend to overpack when it comes to their travels. When you’re on a safari that will just become a burden. After, all, most of the time on safari is spent in the African bush which can be a little wild. In this article we cover garments that help you look the part, but any safari expert will agree there is no set dress code.

Where are you going on safari?

The first decision in preparing to pack for a safari is where it will take place. Africa has a very wide range of landscapes, vegetations, and climates. This means what you pack should be suited to where in Africa you’re headed to. Seems pretty straight forward. If it’s dry season think khaki, brown, and tan. If it’s rainy season time to bust out the browns and greens. Just please no leopard print, okay maybe a little.

What’s the forecast?

Weather plays a large role in what you wear. Most African climates do not have your standard four season climate. Here it is mostly dry and wet season, especially in Eastern Africa. With dry season can come heat in East Africa; however, dry season in Southern Africa means that it’s going to be cool in the evenings and mornings. Then it flips. Rainy season in the East Africa brings cooler weather patterns and perpetuates a constant spring-like weather in Tanzania and Kenya. While, rainy season in South Africa can coincide with its hottest months.

Southern Africa

In Southern Africa, the climate varies quite a bit. Summers can be blisteringly hot while winters are freezing in the back of a game vehicle. Many visitors show up in the winter thinking they’re going to be in the hot bush only to find zero degrees weather in an open vehicle. Yikes! The key here is wearing layers. I’ve included a packing list for your clothes, but this does not include the accessories that are good to pack.

Packing list for Southern Africa

 

Central & East Africa

Here the weather is more temperate year round. It is often referred to 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 to given the time of year, though.

Packing list for Central and East Africa
  • 2 x Compression socks
  • Plenty of undergarments
  • 2 x Short sleeve shirts
  • 4 x Quick-dry shirts
  • 1 x Pair of long pants
  • 1 x Rain jacket
  • 2 x Pairs of shorts
  • 1 x Sun hat
  • 5 x Athletic socks
  • 1 x Bathing suit

The Key Elements of Good Safari Garments

There are a couple key elements we look at with each piece of clothing we’ve selected. These are important elements for anyone in the African bush. However, you should always keep in mind while on safari that you are a guest and your guide will handle the nitty gritty. You’ll be safe and the clothes more than anything are about comfortability. So, if it doesn’t feel good to wear you may as well leave it at home.

  1. Versatility: You’ll want to pack light. The days are often busy so multiple wardrobe changes aren’t really in the mix. Solid clothes that are casual, yet stylish enough to wear to dinner in a lodge.
  2. Durability: This one is key. Africa can be hard on clothes even on a short trip. Climbing in and out of a safari vehicle can easily rip a weak pair of pants or shorts.
  3. Material: With a safari, you’ve come to see nature and that’s just what you will do. So, you’re clothing needs to be well suited to the environments of Africa.
  4. Practicality: Things like having pockets can make or break good safari wear. Where else are you going to stash things like lip balm, sunscreen, or even a pair of binoculars?

Bush walks in Zambia In Safari Clothes

It’s About Blending In

Wear beige, green, and brown colored clothes. They are the staple colors of safari wear because they blend into the environment. This provides a better game viewing experience. Wearing bright colors such as red is said to scare off animals, and make you stand out. This may or may not be true, only the animal gods know for sure.

That being said neutral colors do a great job at hiding dirt and dust which there will be plenty of on a drive through the bush. White clothes aren’t going to stay white very long. While dark colors are believed to attract tsetse flies.

For example when gorilla trekking it advised to wear long pants and greens. When on foot it is always advised to wear colors that blend well into the environment.

Safari Clothes

A Great Safari Shirt

The perfect shirt will make all the difference in being comfortable throughout the day.

A synthetic shirt will give the most practicality, while cotton shirts tend to have a more timeless look. The cotton can also provide a nice base for warmth on a cold morning or cool evening. Synthetic has its own advantages mostly related to quick drying, stain resistance, and keeping cool. Below is a collection of some the best safari clothes we’ve found on the market.

In the end, this is meant to be used as a guide about what to look for; what is the best fit for you may be something not included on this list.{Get started shopping here!}

Mens Safari Clothing: Shirts

Patagonia All-Season Field Shirt:

It would be pretty hard for us to not start off with Patagonia clothing. They make some of our favorite products and make up a large portion of what we wear. To top it off after a year on the road they’re still in great condition with plenty of wear.

The only downside to this shirt is its 100% cotton material. However, you won’t find better cotton products then Patagonia when it comes to outdoor wear. This will also keep you warm on cool mornings and evenings in Southern Africa {Check prices here!}

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Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long Sleeve Shirt

This Columbia long sleeve shirt looks great and is well constructed. Made entirely from a nice blend of synthetic materials it allows for quick drying and ventilation in the hot sun. A long sleeve shirt like this allows for greater comfort moving from chilly mornings into hot days. {Check prices here!}

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Dickies Men’s Short Sleeve Work Shirt

Look I’m not going to lie and say Dickies are known for style because they aren’t. They are a working man’s shirt. The shirts are meant to stand up wear and tear, yet look presentable. Which, is exactly what you want out of a good shirt on safari. They’re hard to stain come in all manner of colors and sizes. Furthermore with short sleeves, pockets, and synthetic materials this shirt is  a winner. {Check prices here!}

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Hanes Sports Men’s Cool DRI Men’s Performance Tee

You don’t always need some safari get up to enjoy your time and be comfortable. That’s where some great comfortable t-shirts come in handy. I’m a big believer in Hanes and always opt for solid colors over graphic tees. I also love a simple classic cotton T-shirt. {Check prices here!}

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Unisex Safari Shirts

Columbia Sportswear Bahama Long Sleeve Shirt

This shirt pretty much checks off every box when it comes to good safari wear. Design built for anglers, but that makes it a perfect fit for the African Bush. The shirt offers UV protection, it’s lightweight, quick drying, it has a vented back, and front pockets. {Check prices here!}

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Womens Safari Clothing: Tops

Columbia Women’s Tamiami Long Sleeve-Shirt

It’s very similar to the Bahama except this one is better fitted and doesn’t include a front breast pocket. The shirt looks a lot better than the Bahama too. However, it’s made out of the same material and has vents in the back as well. {Check Prices here!}

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Fair Indigo Pocket V-neck Fair Trade Organic

Not every item in your pack has to be outdoor wear. Simple clothes like a classic T-shirt or V-neck are great staples to bring in your pack. {Check prices here!}

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Superdry Women’s Super Playsuit Khaki

Stylish, comfortable, and a classic look. This is the perfect womens safari clothing although it might not be the most sturdy piece of clothing, but it’s not like you’re hiking through the bush on most safaris. {Check prices here!}

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LE3NO Women’s Lightweight  Sleeveless Military Anorak Vest

Functional, lightweight, and comfortable with a whole bunch of pockets. Easy Addition to the list of best safari clothes. {Check prices here!}

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Safari Pants And Bottoms

Bottoms should be bought with activity in mind. If you’ll be doing bush walks, light pants will be much more practical than a pair of shorts. Bottoms should also have a little give, new outdoor gear has synthetic materials built into to provide strength and give. So, when you’re hopping into the back of a safari vehicle your pants don’t rip.

Shorts also should not be feared. Most safaris are very easy going affairs riding around in the back of the vehicle so the protection of long pants is unnecessary. Whatever you pack you should bear in mind the location, time of year, and activity level.

 

Mens Safari Clothing: Pants

5.11 Tactical Men’s TacLite Pro Pant

5.11 specializes in tactical gear and makes some seriously great products. These pair of pants are comfortable, practical, tough, and look great. {Check prices here!}

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Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants

Whatever these pants lack in style they make up for in practicality. Made from a synthetic material they offer UV protection, convertible, and vented for comfort. {Check prices here!}

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TRU-SPEC Men’s 24/7 Polyester Cotton Rip Stop

A pair of shorts to keep men cool and fight against stains. Yes, they might be tactical clothing, but that’s okay. {Check prices here!}

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Patagonia Men’s Straight Fit Cords

If you’ve been following our Instagram account you’ve probably seen me in these pants more than a few times. They are my all time favorite. These pants have lasted a year of travel with heavy wear. They’re a blend of cotton and spandex that allows for them to stretch when active like doing handstands in the Atlas Mountains. Oh and they look awesome. {Check Prices Here!}

 

Bathing Suit

It really 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 presenting the ability to go a dip.

One of the biggest travel regrets is missing out on something. We almost always carry a spare bathing suit even on a safari. There are also plenty of great beach lodges that make for a wonderful and relaxing end to be a busy safari. {Find a bathing suit!}

Zanzibar hotels: The Residence

Womens Safari Clothing: Bottoms

 prAna Women’s Convertible Pants

The pants are constructed from a sturdy material that offers stretch, providing solid comfort. It’s the pair of pants Tasha went with and she loves them. With detachable legs, these pants also turn into shorts. These pants are a great option. And they don’t look too bad either! {Check prices here!}

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Royal Robbins Women’s Discovery Pencil Pant

The pants are nylon and are available in the right colors. They have a mesh waistband, a snap button, and deep pockets. This makes them the perfect pants to wear on a safari. The nylon blends keep you cool while protecting your skin from the elements and bugs common on a safari. The fit of these pants allows them to avoid that ugly baggy hiking pant look. {Check prices here!}

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Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Shorts

You can’t only wear pants on a safari unlike you’re looking to have a heat stroke in certain environments. A good pair of outdoor shorts with some stretch and quick dry qualities will do. These pants are nylon and have mesh pockets. {Check prices here!}

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Accessories

Buff Headband

We both travel around with buff headbands 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 a whole bunch of other things. Buy one and fall in love with it. {Check prices here!}

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Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney Sunhat

You spend a lot of time outside on a safari. We often fall into the category of people who do not take sun protection seriously enough. Yes, we wear sunblock on the beach, but outside of that, it’s not something we regularly think about. The time you spend outside adds up. On our first safari, I ended up paying for it with a nice sunburn on my neck and face because I didn’t even think about it. Mind you that was in the winter… Do yourself a favor and invest in sun protection. If it’s not a hat, at the very least wear sunblock. Even the game rangers we meet wear hats and sunblock. The full safari dress does serve a purpose. {Check prices here!}

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Tips On Safari Clothes

  • First and foremost, you do not have to wear any special safari clothes. At the end of the day the majority of your time is spent in a vehicle where it doesn’t matter all that much.
  • Attempt to blend in. Remember to wear clothes suited for the environment.
  • Don’t wear animal prints or some ridiculous getup. You’re not bushwacking through the African jungle. This isn’t Jumanji. You’ll spend the majority of your time in the back of a vehicle. So, wear comfortable clothes that will not stain from dirt, offer sun protection, and are comfortable from the heat or cold.
  • Mind the weather. It can get really really 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.
  • DO NOT wear blue in Eastern Africa. The color blue attracts the Tsetse fly, and this is not a myth.
  • Don’t overpack. You only need a handful of shirts and pants. You are in the African bush, there is no need for multiple wardrobe changes. However, it goes without saying to always pack ample underwear and socks.
  • Keep it relaxed. At five star lodges in Africa, things are still casual. Just because it costs one thousand dollars night doesn’t mean you need to be dressed up.
  • A good pair of sunglasses will save your eyes from staring at landscapes all day.
  • Make sure to pack in layers. It will go from cold in the morning to hot at night and then back to evening time.
  • 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. Especially since we already have our cameras to contend with.


Brands We Recommend

At the end of the day, we like to choose quality. A good outfit is versatile, lasts for a long time, and is timeless. So spending the extra dough to buy decent brands is almost always a good idea. One of the best brands in our opinion is Patagonia.

  • Tag Safari – Purpose built safari clothes with a wide selection. {Shop the brand here!}
  • Khaki Fever – The name of their brand says it all.
  • Patagonia – If you’ve read any of our other packing guides you’ll know we love this brand. They make great quality clothes that hold up.
  • 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 improvement in quality. {Shop the brand here!}
  • First Ascent – You can’t find this brand in America, but if shopping in South Africa they make some great quality clothes.
  • Royal Robbins – Specialize in outdoor and travel gear making some perfect safari clothes. {Shop the brand here!}
  • prAna – They’re a closer runner up to Patagonia for style and quality when it comes to outdoor apparel.

Have any safari clothing-related questions?

 

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