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 came to Africa I knew nothing about women’s safari clothing or what to pack. Countless safaris throughout Southern and Eastern Africa later and these are items I would make sure to bring on your first African safari.
Choosing Women’s Safari Clothing
- 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.
Elements of Women’s Safari Clothing
- Durability: 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.
- Versatility: 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.
- Practicality: Black yoga pants with no pockets are wonderful, just not on safari. Always keep in mind how practical something is.
- Material: Lightweight, synthetic, quick dry clothing is great for Africa.
Women’s Safari Clothing: The Basics
Women’s Safari Shirt
I would recommend at least three safari shirts with you on your trip. I love the ExOfficio Breez’R Shirt. It’s 100% nylon and has “Insect Shield” technology repelling all those African creepy crawlers (and mosquitos!).
Women’s Safari Pants
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.
Another great option are the: Columbia Sportswear Women’s Saturday Trail Pant
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 shorts to stay cool. I prefer a nice pair of green shorts that are stylish like these.
Another great option are: Convertible pants. They may not be straight off the Vogue runway, however they are versatile and perfect for Africa.
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!
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). If you are visiting Kruger National Park in the winter or have plans to camp in the desert overnight then a more heavy duty jacket is suitable. Stay warm with the Hardshell North Face jacket. This one packs up small and is waterproof!
Womens Safari Boots
You’ll be sitting in a car for most of your African safari. I generally wear flip flops 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! I would suggest bringing at least one pair of durable sandals (I personally have had my Rainbow sandals for five years and counting), and one good pair of womens safari boots. For no non sense hiking shoes that are comfortable my go to’s are Merrell Moab Ventilator hiking boots. I’ve been wearing them around the world for two years now and they are still going strong. I also think the price is perfect for the shoe.
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!
Women’s Safari Clothing: The Extra Safari Packing List Items
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.
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.
Some guides will lend you their binoculars to use, but I wouldn’t bank on that. If you want to see some of the wildlife up close I would recommend a decent pair of binoculars. I like these ones from Bushnell since they are quality at an affordable price.
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.
Safari HatI love wearing a hat on safari. Something about it makes me feel like Indiana Jones. Check out our full posts on the best safari hats here.
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!
You’ll definitely want these on your safari packing list. Sunglasses are another item you will pay a premium for in Africa. Arrive on the continent with a few pairs.
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-T10 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!
It wouldn’t hurt to pack…
A 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.
Khaki Safari Dress
Just because you’re on safari doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress nicely once in awhile. I like wearing dresses to dinner once in awhile. They are light and keep me cool under the African sun. Here’s a affordable safari dress in khaki color that will look great at dinner or on game drives.
Cameron and I both love our Buff Headband. Our Buffs are UV protected and keep the sweat off my forehead.
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Plan Your Trip to Africa
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- Flights to Africa: Compare airlines, dates and prices all in one place with Skyscanner.
- Tours in Africa: Check out some of these African tours!
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. We ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
- Water: Much of the water in Africa is questionable at best. We always use our Lifestraw Go Waterbottle to ensure safe drinking water.
- Guide Book: Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.
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- How to Plan a Safari in Africa: A Step by Step Guide
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