Women’s safari clothing can be a mystery to any first timer in Africa. An African safari will be one of the greatest highlights of your life. However, any great safari can be spoiled with the wrong clothes, so it’s important to come prepared for safari.
Before I traveled to Africa I knew nothing about women’s safari clothing or what to pack for safari. Countless safaris throughout Southern and Eastern Africa later and these are the women’s safari clothing items I would make sure to bring on your first African safari.
Choosing Women’s Safari Clothing • My Tips
- I love greens, beige, and khaki just as much as the next wannabe Merryl Streep in Out of Africa. However, the truth of the matter is you will spend a lot of time in a car while 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.
- The dreaded Tsetse fly is said to be attracted to dark blue colors. Avoid dressing in these colors unless you want to become a target.
- Layering is essential. Game drives usually start early and end late when it is cold. In the middle of the day temperatures can soar, so shedding some layers will save you a heat stroke.
- Always make sure to check the weather for the season you are visiting Africa. It’s not one big giant hot continent.
- Is it the rainy season where you are heading? Make sure to take note and pack for wet days if it is.
- Just because you are in Africa doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish. If style is important then make sure to pick out a few fashionable safari clothing items for your trip.
Women’s Safari Clothing • The Elements
I wouldn’t recommend dirt cheap safari clothing. African elements can be especially tough on clothing so you will want to make sure you are getting quality clothing.
Avoid having a jumbo suitcase and pack clothing that can be interchanged with different safari outfits for women. I particularly like having one long skirt or dress, one pair of shorts, and two pairs of pants which all go well with some plain colored shirts. This is particularly important if you plan to take bush flights where you are limited to 15kgs of luggage.
Black yoga pants with no pockets are wonderful, just not on safari. Always keep in mind how practical something is.
Lightweight, synthetic, quick dry clothing is great for Africa.
Safari Outfit for Women
1. Women’s Safari Shirt
I would recommend at least three safari shirts with you on your trip with at least one of those a long sleeve, insect repellant shirt. Here are a few suggestions.
Columbia Women’s Tamiami II Long Sleeve-Shirt
This shirt pretty much checks off every box when it comes to good safari wear. The shirt looks sharp with clean lines and a flattering cut. 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.
Loaded with features such omni-wick moisture management, antimicrobial treatment, and strategic mesh vented panels this shirt perfect for a safari. Columbia is one of our favorites when it comes to shirts as they make affordable and well designed clothes.
Orvis Open Air Casting Long Sleeve Shirt
For traveling women, this is my personal favorite for style. The shirt is lightweight and breathable with solid sun protection and other technical features. The Open air has vented panels on the back, mesh panels, and mesh pockets that keep you cool particularly when you’re sitting in the back of a safari vehicle.
If you’re still feeling hot you can roll up the sleeves and secure them with stylish tabs. Then with two front breast pockets, you have the functionality we like with a great safari shirt. More than anything it’s a technical safari shirt with a great look. It’s the best shirt on this list, but it comes at a premium and nearly double the cost of the competition.
REI Co-op Sahara Pattern
It’s all built for being active whether that’s hiking or going on a safari. This lightweight shirt from REI is made from polyester fabric that resists wrinkles, dries quickly for comfort, and wicks away sweat from the body. It has a number of pattern options which help break up the monotony of khaki, green, and white.
The front breast pocket is great for a small tube of sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. For me, it’s the cut and technical capabilities of the shirt that make it shine such as UPF protection, long sleeve cuffs, underarm panels to reduce odor, and a spandex blend for easy movement.
2. Women’s Safari Pants
Pants are an essential part of a safari outfit for women. One pair of women’s safari pants are great; however, two will safari pants for women ensure that you won’t have to do any washing on your trip. I personally have the prAna Halle pants and have had them for almost three years now without issue. It’s almost impossible to stain them, they roll up into capris when it’s hot, and they are water resistant.
prAna Women’s Regular Inseam Halle Pant
These are my go-to for women’s pants. The extremely versatile pant is prepared to tackle the city, bush, or mountains with no problems.
A great feature about these pants is its convertible feature, the pants are designed to roll up into capris – perfect for hot days. These lightweight pants also occupy minimal space in your suitcase. We consider these the very best travel pants for women.
Columbia Sportswear Women’s Saturday Trail Pant
The design of these pants is almost a carbon copy of the prAna pants above. Tasha has tried both these pants and found that the prAna Halle pant fits her better, but she also has short legs. We’d recommend trying both pants out or looking at the color options and going with your preference.
Color options are of greater variety with the Saturday Trail Pant. However, you should expect all the same features such as roll up capri, security pocket, and a button fly. These pants are great for traveling since they’re lightweight, look good, and versatile.
The North Face Paramount II Convertible Pant
These pants are built for hiking, climbing, and pretty much anything adventurous. They are made out of stretchy, DWR water-resistant fabric, providing durability. On top of that, they have UPF 30 sun protection which can be necessary if you are caught out in the hot African sun for too long.
I absolutely love that these pants either roll into a 3/4 length Capri fit or zipper off to a pair of 5-inch safari shorts. Like most of the safari pants on this list these aren’t just good for an African safari, they’ll keep you going in the mountains or even traveling through new cities as well.
prAna Ladies lounge pants
You’re going to want to be comfortable while on safari. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a game viewer or enjoying a drink back at your base, you will want to have flexible, breathable, and comfortable pants to lounge in.
My absolute favorite are the prAna Mantra pants (yes I love prAna). They are made out of 53% Hemp, 44% Recycled Polyester, 3% Spandex and are completely durable with a UPF 50+ rating. Try going with oatmeal or cargo green colors so they match the rest of your safari outfits!
3. Women’s Safari Shorts
It gets HOT in Africa, especially in the middle of the day. I would recommend bringing at least one pair of safari shorts to stay cool. I prefer a nice pair of shorts that are practical yet stylish.
Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Short
The Columbia brand is always a reputable one in the outdoor space. These trail shorts are perfect for 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 to wear to dinner and other activities that revolve around your safari. The best part about these shorts are even after your African safari experience you can take them home and they are perfectly acceptable to go trail running or hiking with.
Sobrisah Drawstring Comfy Safari Shorts
You don’t always need top of the line tactical gear for safari. Sometimes I just like to have something cheap, flowy, carefree, and comfortable. That’s why these drawstring pants can be perfect for safaris. They come in a variety of colors perfect for the African bush including khaki, but can also double as good beach coverups shorts if you decide to make your way to Zanzibar afterward.
These are made out of breathable fabric that is good for either machine washing or handwashing. Since it is a drawstring pant you won’t have to worry too much about gaining a lot of weight on safari (which does happen!).
Eddie Bauer Women’s Adventurer
Eddie Bauer is a great outdoor brand that has quality products for both men and women. These cargo shorts have six pockets which is perfect for stashing your chapstick, camera filters, and safari binoculars. Two are side cargo, two are front slash, and there are two back flap pockets. The fit is defined as slightly curvy which means the pants sit below your waist and are curvy throughout the hup and thigh.
Eddie Bauer makes these safari shorts in an array of color for girls that adventure everywhere.
4. Safari Vests for Women
Safari vests are great if for storing little items on you in all the pockets. They are especially useful on walking safaris. This is a selection of our favorite vests designed for women.
LE3NO Womens Lightweight Safari Vest
Although this is not a technical piece of clothing I think it looks fabulous for women wanting to look fashionable while on safari. The piece goes great with a safari hat and pants. I love this safari vest design – it’s functional, lightweight, and even has a hood. There won’t be many women with a vest on safari, so this is great for standing out from the crowd!
ExOfficio Women’s Flyq Lite Vest
This safari vest is made by one of our favorite outdoor travel brands. ExOfficio specializes in quick dry and functional travel gear. This vest is 100% nylon, has an elastic bungee hem on the bottom, and has a fleece lined collar. The vest has 11 pockets to stash everything you could need from chapstick to binoculars, and important documents and cash.
I love the organization of this vest on the inside. It ensures you won’t misplace anything. There’s even a water bottle pocket which will come in super handy under the hot African sun. Perhaps the best part about this vest is how affordable it is!
Columbia Women’s World Trekker Vest
Columbia makes some of the most affordable outdoor gear on the market. This safari vest is 100% nylon and has insect shield repellant. With only five pockets it’s not the most utility vest on this list, but it is functional and can hold your belongings on the inside of the vest and out. With a tie waist for adjustment, the vest can still look cute and fashionable in all your safari photos.
Makeitmint Fashionable Safari Vest
I love the makeitmint collection because they offer so many colors. These cute vests make not be the most practical, but if you are looking for a stylish safari vests this is a great choice. So if you are just looking for a cheap safari vest this may be what you want! This vest has four pockets and zippers on the front to stay organized. It’s great to pair with a khaki skirt and some safari boots while in Southern Africa on a cool day.
5. Women’s Safari Dresses
A safari dress is great because it can be a one piece safari outfit for ladies. I like to bring a few dresses on safari for meal times and for times out of the game drive vehicle. Also – they are perfect for photos!
prAna Cantine Dress
My favorite dresses that look nice, but are still made for active women are made by prAna. I’ve traveled all over with their Cantine dress and can attest to it’s durability.
REI Co-op Aoraki Travel Dress
This lightweight and stylish safari dress is a great choice. The REI Co-op Aoraki travel dress will keep you cool in the sun with lightweight fast drying fabric. It’s also great as it will dry overnight after a quick wash along the in your wash basin.
The outer layer of fabric is treated with (DWR) so if you get caught in a rain storm the dress will handle the moisture well. The zippered pocket is also great to stick a small tube of sunblock or lip balm.
United By Blue Pinnacle Commuter Dress
While it looks just like a dress, it’s also possible to make these into more of a romper with an elastic hem closure in between the legs. This dress is 98% organic cotton and 2% spandex which allows for a little stretch. United By Blue is one of my favorite sustainable brands! For every product sold United By Blue removes a pound of trash.
Patagonia ReCircle Dress
We love Patagonia and love that their always looking to reduce their impact and improve the supply line. This dress is designed from a new lightweight eco-friendly material called TENCEL. The material is more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk, and cooler than linen all while being made from a closed loop system. It’s a slam dunk in our books for eco-conscious travelers.
6. Safari Jacket
I would say no matter what season you go on safari you should at least bring a warm fleece jacket (maybe even a down jacket) with you just in case it gets cold (which it probably will). However if you want something a bit more stylish for warmth and photos I would recommend a nice safari jacket.
KUHL Lena Jacket
I love Kuhl products and this safari jacket is no different. This jacket is packable, lightweight and perfect for all sorts of travel – not just on safari. The zippered chest and hand pockets provide storage for any extra goods you’ll need on safari and there is also a hood that zips into the collar. This jacket also has an internal drawcord at the waist to cinch it in and make it more fitting.
7. Womens Safari Boots
You’ll be sitting in a car for most of your African safari. I actually wear flip flops quite a bit unless I am going on a bush walk in which good women’s travel shoes are needed. You don’t want to have to run from a buffalo in bad shoes!
Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger
I wish Chippewa had a greater option of women’s boots. However, Red Wing does the job with the Women’s Iron Ranger. You know how you know these boots are classics? They look great on both Men and Women. They’re rugged, chic, and sexy on both sexes. To me, it all comes down the superb leather they use to construct their boots. When you buy a classic pair of boots like these you’re making an investment in your feet.
Dr. Marten’s Pascal Combat Boot
The Pascal Combat Boot has been a fashion staple for decades now. Combined with both a classic combat boot look, solid design, and comfort these boots are great for a bush walk. A large selection of styles and colors ensure you can choose whatever suits your mood. After all, women’s safari clothes do not need to be all khaki and leather. The long history and great build quality mean the boots should also hold up against the elements. I wouldn’t recommend them for a hard adventurer, but they’re more than enough for the average safari.
Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator 2 Mid
These aren’t the best looking shoes in the world, but they’re nowhere near a pair of crocs. Tasha spent months trying on different hiking shoes and finally settled on the Moab Ventilator and has been wearing them ever since. They are well constructed and have held up well over the years. The Moab’s are well padded, comfortable, and for about a $20 different you can get the Gortex version (waterproof). Boots like these are great for people who need comfort and looking for a good hiking boot.
The North Face Ballard Lace II
I love the look of the North Face Ballard. These aren’t good just for safari, but they are also very stylish and go well during any season. The Ballards are made out of durable coated canvas and leather uppers. They are great for walking for long periods with their OrthoLite footbed and blown rubber sidewalls. These boots are durable enough to last for years and have rust-proof hardware.
8. A Bra for Safari
A good selection of sports bras is ideal for an African safari. The roads get pretty bumpy… I like Champion sports bras which are a great price for the quality you get.
I forgot to bring a scarf from home and paid a premium for a good one in Africa. However, a scarf is essential for those early mornings before sunrise when it’s still very cold. Check out these African themed scarfs!
10. Safari Hat
You don’t want your skin ruined from the harsh African sun. A safari hat is not only fashionable, but also practical for keeping the sun off your face.
Dorfman Pacific All-Season Crushable Hat
Oh my, I love this safari hat for women. It’s made out 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 had 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!
Filson Tin Packer Hat
This is a great go to all around safari hat for women. Filson makes a great product and that is no exception with the tin packer hat. It’s water repellent and wear resistant and will last for the many years you will be returning to Africa to go on safari.
The Tin Packer hat has a cotton sweatband and ventilation grommets so it’s comfortable any time of the year. While I list this as a great safari hat for women it would look great on men too!
11. Safari Bag
You’ll need something to carry and pack all these women’s safari clothes into. If you’re going on safari chances are you may be taking a bush flight or two. I would recommend packing light as most of these small plans severely limit you on weight. We have been on flights where we are only allowed 15 kg’s a person and some flights that allow us to have 25 kgs. Make sure to only pack what you need. I like Polare Bags for their supreme quality. I break down some of my other favorite safari bags here.
12. Safari Backpack
If you are traveling with electronics it is essential to keep them covered. African dust and humidity is no joke. I like having a backpack to keep all my electronics in and I usually have all eyes on that bag when in transit. Here is a good bag for safari.
13. Bushnell 10×42 H20 Waterproof Binoculars
After all these higher priced safari binoculars I had to end the list with the best budget binoculars for safari. Bushnell has long been making great binoculars and for all price ranges. The Bushnell 10×42 H20 Waterproof Binoculars have amazing HD clarity and quality optics for less than $100. Like all Bushnell products they are durable and have an O ring that is sealed for fog free viewing.
The nonslip rubber provides a firm grip and the center focus knob is large enough to give you easy and seamless adjustments. It’s the perfect pair of binoculars for first time safari goers who are unsure if they want to invest in a pricier pair of binos.
Sunscreen is extremely expensive in Africa. Don’t arrive on the continent without it or you will likely pay a premium or have a hard time finding it at all. Peak Sunscreen is a great for the environment.
15. Small Flashlight
Many African lodges will provide flashlights in your room. However, if you are camping or staying a little more basic a flashlight is always a good thing to have. We met someone once who didn’t have a flashlight and snuck up on a lion outside her tent – don’t let that happen to you!
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time hiking in the sun at elevation. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes. Sunglasses are particularly important if you plan to visit any glaciers or high alpine passes as sun reflection from the snow is damaging to your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses; however, we love ours and will never buy cheap ones again. Polarized glasses are great at enhancing vision in bright environments and removing glare from windshields and the water.
Any kind of decent wildlife shots while on safari will require a good camera. iPhones and iPads are great…but definitely not on close-ups of animals on safari. I travel with my Fujifilm X-T3 with a 200 mm telephoto lens.
No, I’m not a wildlife photographer, but I do manage to get close up shots of the most amazing lions and elephants still! Cameron breaks down more great cameras for safari here!
19. Bathing Suit
Many lodges have pools, and who knows maybe you can head to African coast after your safari. I would pack at least one bathing suit for downtime between game viewing.
Cameron and I both love our Buff Headband. Our Buffs are UV protected and keep the sweat off my forehead.
21. Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle
It’s not advisable to drink the tap water in most of Africa. We previously used the Lifestraw Go for all those times during our travels when the water is questionable. However, over time we became annoyed with the water bottle as the filter aged and clogged. Plus the bottle leaks when it is on its side.
We now switched to the Grayl Ultralight Purifier. It’s a more simplistic design than the Lifestraw that is more effective and does not leak. Most importantly it is a purifier, not a filter. The Grayl water bottle system purifies water vs. filters which removes viruses and virtually removes all threat of waterborne illnesses.
Care to see more of Africa?
- The 13 Best Safari Pants for Men and Women\
- The Best Safari Shirts for Men and Women in 2019
- The 15 Best Safari Shorts for Men and Women
- 10 Safari Bags to Consider for Your Trip to Africa
- How to Plan a Safari in Africa: A Step by Step Guide
- What is a Balloon Safari Over The Masai Mara Like?
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