What clothing should I pack for my safari?

This is probably one of the first questions you will ask once you have booked your safari. Let us guide you into the world of safari gear. Follow our advice and you'll be comfortable, cool, protected, and assured that the clothing you pack is 100% safari suitable.

Dress in layers for all activities, with a warm layer essential in the mornings and evenings. Long-sleeved shirts with roll-up tabs and zip-off trousers allow you to adapt to local conditions.

Colour is key

Neutral and naturally-toned colours are the order of the day for your safari, with the worst possible colours to pack being white and black. The aim of any safari is to blend in as much as possible so that you do not disturb the wildlife you are viewing. This ensures that you are able to watch animals behaving naturally and not running away from you (or towards you, which is certainly not ideal!). White is the most conspicuous colour on safari and you will be seen from a mile away. This is most true while walking - an activity we highly recommend. White clothing should be avoided as it stands out against the muted browns and green tones of Africa. Also, please do not pack safari clothing that is blue or black in colour, especially if you are going to an area with tsetse flies. These flies are the equivalent of tiny fighter jets and deliver a very painful sting. The traps used to attract and catch tsetse flies are blue and black - and you do not want to become a mobile tsetse fly trap. For the majority of African countries, please do not pack camouflage safari clothing as camouflage clothing is illegal attire for civilians and this law is strictly enforced. All the safari clothing stocked by The Safari Store is handpicked to be neutral in colour and are the ideal colours for safari travel.

As an aside, some travellers have asked why colour is such an issue when African tribesmen (for example, the Maasai) wear bright colours in the bush. The answer is simple: they are not looking to view and photograph wildlife. Their main concern is protecting their cattle from attack by predators and so they want to stand out as much as possible when in the bush as this assists them in chasing wild animals away from their precious livestock.

The ideal colours to wear on safari allow you to blend in well with your surroundings.

Cotton vs man-made fabrics

Man-made fabrics today are as far removed from the heavy nylon clothing of yesteryear as computers are from typewriters. In a nutshell, clothing made from man-made/technical fabrics, usually 100% Polyamide, are without doubt the best for modern travellers to Africa. Cotton shirts used to be the ideal shirts for safaris about 10 to 15 years ago. Since then, an incredible amount of research and hard work has gone into producing superior technical fabrics - and the work has paid off. The majority of the leading manufacturers of outdoor clothing, including The Safari Store, recommend man-made/technical fabrics over cotton fabrics - and man-made fabrics now form the core of our safari clothing range. Cotton is heavier, hotter, creases more easily, and does not have any of the phenomenal technical characteristics of man-made/technical fabrics. This is due, in part, to the fact that cotton holds much more water than man-made fabrics. What this means is that, when you sweat in a garment made from cotton, the cotton fabric will hold 20% of its volume in water before releasing it to the atmosphere, whereas man-made fabrics only hold 4% of their volume in water before releasing it into the atmosphere. Not only is this rapid movement of water important for cooling (also called wicking), but it also explains why cotton creases more and requires a higher temperature to remove creases when ironed. The net effect is that man-made fabrics dry faster, keep you cooler, are lighter, and are more suited to being packed into your bag to be worn as soon as you get to your destination. The importance of using manmade fabrics over fabric such as cotton is true for all garments, but this is more the case for shirts rather than for trousers simply as you do not really sweat from the legs, more from your torso. Strictly speaking though, we prefer and recommend manmade fabrics for shirts and trousers.

As a team, we have also rigorously Expedition Tested™ our man-made fabrics under extreme conditions to prove that they are ideally suited to the conditions on your safari.

Wear fabrics such as MaraTech & BugTech on safari.

Top tips for selecting safari clothing with the best in travel garment technology.

1. Select clothing which is easy to pack, dries quickly, and wicks moisture away from the skin.

2. Keep bugs at bay: Where possible get added protection by selecting clothing that offers a built-in insect repellent. Insist on seeing proof that the built-in insect repellent has been proven to work by asking to see the laboratory test results

3. Protect your skin: The African sun can be harsh, even during winter. Opt for clothing that offers protection from the sun. This will be shown as an SPF rating. 50+ is the highest rating available today.

4. Light can also mean strong. The best safari clothing is lightweight, but also has built-in ripstop for added strength.

5. Stay fresh: As we all prefer to smell fresh, select clothing that uses an anti-microbial or anti-bacterial fabric. This also means that you will be able to wear the same clothing for longer and so pack less and travel lighter.

7. Get back-up: Add to the protective performance of the clothing which you take on safari by packing a wide-brimmed, packable safari hat, an effective sunscreen, and insect repellent which has been proven to work to spray on to your clothing and skin.

Safari clothing with the latest in garment technology.

Pack a warm layer and pack light

Make no bones about it, it gets cold on safari. African winters, open Land Rovers, early mornings and late evenings, land-locked countries, and high altitudes all contribute to the mix. Areas such as the Okavango Delta, Masai Mara, and northern Tanzania - to name but a few - are at the same height and above of some ski resorts in Europe. Even during the summer months, it will be cool to cold on the back of an open game-viewer. The rule of thumb is that the hotter it gets at midday, the earlier in the morning you will leave to go on safari as that is when animals are most active. You should pack a jacket or fleece for all safaris and a beanie and scarf for the African winter. A waterproof layer is an essential too if travelling over the rainy season.

Packing the correct safari clothing has become increasingly important in Africa due to the strict implementation of luggage weight restrictions on internal flights - usually 12 to 15 kilograms per person. This applies in particular to travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and all other countries where access to safari camps and lodges is by scheduled charter or light aircraft. You will be able to find out the luggage weight limitations for your safari by discussing this with the company who have arranged your safari.

The clothing stocked by The Safari Store is all lightweight and packs and unpacks with minimum fuss or creasing. It also stands to reason that the lighter each garment you pack, the more garments you are able to pack and still remain under the weight threshold set by charter flight companies.

Please note that, as the maximum take-off weight in any aircraft has to be strictly adhered to by pilots to maximise your safety on each flight, you may find that your pilot will not be able to take any luggage over the maximum allowed weight per passenger. In this instance, you may have to pay for your luggage to be flown separately. We mention this to reiterate the importance of not overloading your luggage where maximum luggage weight limits apply.

Wear a fleece or jacket on safari.
Pack functional and stylish clothing for your safari

Functionality & style

We realise the importance of offering our clients practical garments which allow you to express your style while on safari. We all want to look good and so, early on in our history, we took a big step away from tent-shaped safari shirts and drab, heavy safari trousers. We think that you will agree with us that our range is a breath of fresh air and ensures that you not only wear the correct attire on safari, but look and feel good too. As our clothing is all tested on expeditions, by purchasing safari clothing from The Safari Store, you will also protect your own day-to-day clothing from the dust, thorns, and strong sun encountered while travelling.

Pack soft and squashhable luggage for your safari

What luggage should you take on safari?

Pack your safari clothing and gear into a bag which is soft and squashable. This is especially true for safari travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya. The reason for this is rather a practical one. The majority of safari lodges and camps within these countries are accessible only by light aircraft and, in order for your pilot to fit your luggage into the small, cramped hold, your luggage must not have hard sides and should rather be soft-sided so that the pilot is able to fit (squash) your bag into the plane. The same is true for some overland and expedition-style safaris where there will be limited space for luggage in the safari 4x4.

Therefore, we recommend that you take one larger safari canvas and leather holdall (around 70x30x30cm in size when full) and one smaller carry-on type bag to use when you travel and to take your binoculars and accessories on game drives and walks. For safaris with a daily walking element, we recommend that you take the holdall plus a small bag such as our Mara&Meru™ Selous Bag which you are able to use as a satchel or backpack and which attaches to your belt to carry your binoculars, compact camera or smartphone, and your safari accessories. When attached to your belt, this will leave your hands free to use your binoculars or camera and to push a thorny branch out of the way, drink water, or lift yourself up a rocky outcrop. Being 'hands-free' really does make a difference to your enjoyment of the walk.

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