Warm outdoor & safari clothing is vital for just about all northern hemisphere outdoor adventures - and on safaris & travels to Africa, India and beyond where dawn & evening game drives, bush walks, & time spent outside can get chilly. It can get very hot - even in Africa - but it can get very cold too. Prepare by packing a snug outdoor & safari warm layer.
You absolutely do need a men's safari jacket or men's safari fleece on any safari - whether you opt for a long-sleeved safari fleece or jacket or a safari fleece vest - as it does get cold on safari.
The reasons for the cold include: African winters, wind chill on safaris in open 4x4s (dipping into valleys and drainage lines also adds an extra bite of cold), early morning starts and late evening finishes for safari activities, land-locked countries, and many safari areas being high above sea level. The Maasai Mara & Serengeti (and most of East Africa) are the height of some ski resorts at 1,400 meters above sea level. Botswana, parts of Zambia, and Namibia are also more or less 1,000 meters above sea level.
Think of the safari experience as a desert trip where it starts off cold in the mornings and becomes cold again in the evenings, but heating up by midday to warm or hot. Keep in mind that the hotter the temperatures are at midday, the earlier you will go on safari, which means the cooler it will be. Again, you should definitely pack a men's safari fleece or men's safari jacket for your safari. We have given this advice to clients who have ignored it and returned from an October safari in Botswana to tell us that, yes, they did indeed get cold despite the midday heat.
For the African winter, opt for a long-sleeved safari jacket or safari fleece and, for the summer, either a safari vest jacket or fleece, but then wear a long-sleeved safari shirt underneath so that the sleeves help to keep you warm.
Colour is still key when choosing the correct safari fleece or safari jacket. Opt for neutral shades such as khaki, green, or brown.
For safari travel over the rainy season, pack a high quality, waterproof safari jacket which is proven to actually work. For East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda), the rains generally occur in two parts: the longer monsoon in April and May and then the shorter rains around November. Higher safari areas such as the Ngorongoro Crater catch the wind from the sea and it may rain at any time of the year. Southern Tanzania differs from this and is similar to the rainy season in Zambia, Botswana, and northern Mozambique - and falls between late November and late March, often extending into April. As a general rule, if one had to ask "when is Africa always dry?" - the answer would be May to October, with regional rains still possible in some parts. Please also note that the South African rainy season is split down the middle of the country, with the east receiving rain through summer and the west a winter rainfall area. That winter rainfall can push through in cold fronts to the east of the country too.
Having lived in Africa through the rains we are also able to advise that the daytime temperature goes from very hot before the rains start, to much cooler once the rains have settled in. The difference may be as much as 10 to 15 degrees celsius below the average temperatures and so again we advise that a fleece or jacket is packed to keep you warm.
Number of men's safari jackets or safari fleeces to pack for your safari:
1 x safari fleece or jacket; 1 x waterproof safari jacket should you be travelling over the rainy season.
Pack men's safari shirts which are made from neutral, natural tones such as shades of khaki, green, and brown.
We suggest you pack more men's safari shirts which are long-sleeved safari shirts with roll-up sleeve tabs over short-sleeved shirts - simply as you are able to roll your sleeves up and down when you need to stay cool, keep warm, or to avoid sunburn on your arms.
Pack men's safari shirts which offer a combination of effective wicking, sun protection (SPF50+ is best), and proven insect defence.
As a general rule, men's safari shirts made from man-made fibres (e.g. polyamide) are superior to natural fibres such as cotton as they wick moisture away from the skin much faster than cotton shirts. Faster wicking means faster cooling. This is particularly important for any long-sleeved or collared shirt.
Pack men's safari shirts which have a collar to protect your neck from the sun.
Number of men's safari shirts to pack:
Up to 4-day safari: x 2; Up to 8-day safari: x 4; Up to 12-day safari: x 6
Pack men's safari trousers which are made in safari-suitable colours. These are ideally shades of khaki, brown, and green.
The men's safari trousers go-to product will always be zip-off or convertible men's safari trousers and pants. These are designed for maximum versatility no matter the conditions on safari: trousers when cool, shorts when hot - and they save on valuable packing space by being two garments in one. The leg sections also give added protection from the sun and defence from most biting insects - especially when treated with built-in SPF and anti-insect treatment. For walking safaris, having separate waterproof leg sections for your men's safari pants which provide insect defence work the best.
Should you prefer to also pack separate men's safari trousers and men's safari shorts, then make sure you work out the duration of your activity and wear either trousers or the shorts depending on the weather during that activity. There is no use starting off warm with men's safari trousers when its cold in the morning only to be boiling hot later on in the day. Another option if you prefer separate safari trousers and safari shorts would be to take shorts or trousers with you on the safari activity in a satchel or daypack and change while on the activity.
The ideal men's safari trousers and shorts are lightweight, strong, provide a high level of sun protection (SPF50+ is recommended), and have an anti-insect finish. Wicking is less important from a sweat and cooling point of view, as your legs don't sweat as much as your upper body, but wicking would be important in ensuring that, should your safari trousers get wet from the rain or a water-based activity - or even just the morning dew while walking - that they dry very quickly.
Men's safari trousers which are made from man-made fibres (such as polyamide) are preferable to those made from natural fibres (such as cotton) for their moisture wicking properties, ensuring that you stay cool and dry on safari.
Number of men's safari trousers and shorts to pack for your safari:
Up to 4-day safari: x 2 (1+1); Up to 8-day safari: x 3 (2+1); Up to 12-day safari: x 4 (2+2)
We have shown the number of men's safari trouser zip-offs/convertibles as the first number - "x 3"- and the men's safari trousers plus men's safari shorts combination in brackets - e.g. (2+1). Always make sure that you pack the total number whether you opt for safari zip-offs, safari trousers, or safari shorts, but always have a combination of safari shorts and trousers. As an example, for an 8-day safari, you could take one pair of zip-offs, one pair of trousers, and one pair of shorts - or 3 pairs of zip-offs, or two pairs of shorts and one pair of trousers - or vice versa.