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.
Pack a women's safari jacket or women's safari fleece for all safaris. Opt for either a long-sleeved safari fleece or safari jacket or a safari fleece vest depending on the season - as the temperature does drop on safari.
Why does it get cold in Africa - isn't is hot all the time? The short answer is no, it is not hot all the time. 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.
The safari experience is similar to a desert trip where it starts off cold in the mornings, usually heats up by midday to warm or hot, but then may become cold again in the evenings. It worth bearing in mind that, as animals are more active when it is cooler - with hotter temperatures at midday - the earlier you will go on safari, which means the cooler it will be. Again, you should definitely pack a women's safari fleece or women'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, pack a long-sleeved safari jacket or safari fleece and, for the summer, either a vest safari jacket or safari 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, especially on early morning walks. Pack safari fleeces or jackets which are made from 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 women'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 women's safari shirts which are not only safari-suitable, but which are also safari-styled and allow you to stay comfortable while looking and feeling feminine. As we usually say: stay in a tent on safari; don't wear a tent-shaped shirt. Women's safari shirts can and should be stylish.
Women's safari shirts should be khaki or shades of brown and green to blend in best with the environment while on safari.
Women's safari shirts which are long-sleeved allow you to roll your sleeves up and down when you need to stay cool, keep warm, or to avoid sunburn on your arms. Therefore, we recommend that you pack more long-sleeved than short-sleeved safari shirts in your safari packing mix.
Collared women's safari shirts give you added protection from sunburn.
Important features for women's safari shirts include: ability to wick moisture to keep you cool, high level of sun protection (SPF50+ is best), and an anti-insect fabric finish to reduce your chances of being bitten by most flying and biting insects.
Pack more women's safari shirts made from man-made fibres (polyamide) than natural fibres (such as cotton). Man-made fibres are better at wicking moisture from the skin - and it is this movement of moisture which keeps you cool.
Number of women's safari shirts to pack for your safari:
Up to 4-day safari: x 2; Up to 8-day safari: x 4; Up to 12-day safari: x 6
Pack comfortable, lightweight women's safari trousers which are made in safari-suitable colours such as shades of khaki, brown, and green. Trousers made from anti-insect fabric will give you extra defence from most biting insects too.
Women's safari zip-off/convertible trousers are often the safari trousers of choice for women simply due to their versatility - no matter how hot or cold it is on safari. Use them as trousers when cool, shorts when hot - and they save on valuable packing space by being two garments in one. The legs on women's safari convertible pants also give added protection from the sun and defence from most biting insects - especially when treated with built-in SPF and anti-insect finish. For walking safaris, having separate waterproof leg sections which provide insect defence work well given the morning dew on early morning walks - ensuring your legs stay drier and reducing bites (although you should always apply insect repellent for ticks and other insects).
If you prefer to wear stand-alone women's safari trousers and women's safari shorts, then make sure you work out the duration of the activity and wear either trousers or the shorts depending on the weather. While other trousers are perhaps more stylish than women's safari zip-off trousers, there is no use starting off warm when it's cold in the morning only to sweat in the heat 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 each safari activity in a satchel or daypack and change while on the activity.
The ideal women's safari trousers and shorts should offer you a good level of style with a feminine cut. They should also be lightweight, strong, provide a high level of sun protection (SPF50+ is best), and have an anti-insect finish. Wicking is less important from a sweat point of view as your legs don't sweat as much as your upper body, but still consider wicking as an important feature to ensure that, should your trousers get wet from the rain or a water-based activity - or even just the morning dew while walking - that they dry very quickly.
Again, while your lower body does not feel the heat as much as your upper body, always consider women's safari trousers which are made from man-made fibres (such as polyamide) over those made from natural fibres (such as cotton). Women's safari trousers and safari shorts made from man-made fibres will also crease less and dry faster when you wash them on your safari and travels.
Number of women's safari trousers and safari 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 women's safari trouser zip-offs/convertibles as the first number - "x 3"- and the women's safari trousers plus women'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 three pairs of zip-offs or two pairs of safari shorts and one pair of safari trousers - or vice versa.
Pack a women's safari dress and a pair of women's safari skorts to add variety to your wardrobe.
Ensure that you select women's safari dresses and skorts which are made in safari-suitable colours.
A women's safari dress can also be very versatile when worn with tights, as a longer shirt, or tucked into your safari trousers.
Women's safari skorts - which are a combination of shorts and a skirt, with the shorts inside the skorts - are great for safaris in 4x4s as you are able to climb on to and off of the game drive vehicle without worrying about your underwear showing.
While, by their design, both safari dresses and safari skorts do allow for a good flow of air around the body to keep you cool, it is still worth looking for styles made in technical fabrics simply as they are usually lighter, easier to pack, and perform better in the heat.
Pack any combination of women's safari dresses & skorts to get the following totals:
Up to 4-day safari: x 1 to 2; Up to 8-day safari: x 2 to 3; Up to 12-day safari: x 3 to 4