Before going on my first African safari, I had a lot of questions. What do I wear? What do I bring? I turned to the internet, which did not give me all of the answers I was looking for. If you feel like this, you have come to the right place. Keep reading to find out what you should really wear on an African safari, based on my real-life experience.

In this article, I reviewed a few outfits that I wore on safari at the Makalali Prive Game Reserve in South Africa, and I provided feedback on each. This way, you will know what worked, what didn’t, and why. I also wrote out my general conclusions based on my experience, so you can make informed decisions when planning your attire.

Safari Outfit #1 Review

The details:

My thoughts:

Overall, this outfit was a great choice. The safari hat was a must for sun protection during the day (although it is not pictured in every photo, I wore it on every drive). It also prevented my hair from blowing around uncontrollably in the wind. Alternatively, you may choose to wear a Shemagh scarf, which my husband raved about.

In my opinion, a short-sleeve t-shirt is the way to go when on safari. It kept me cool during the day’s heat, was comfortable and durable, and was easily covered by a jacket or sweatshirt when the sun went down. The only downside was that it did not provide protection against mosquitos all day long (I guess that is what mosquito spray is for, though). A solution would be to wear a long-sleeved lightweight t-shirt, as you may see my husband wearing in a photo featured later on in this article.

I also think the lightweight pants were a good choice. They kept me as cool as possible while still protecting me from mosquitos. The bottoms of the pants were tight, so they could easily be tucked into my hiking boots for extra protection.

Last but certainly not least, the hiking boots provided the support and comfort I needed for a long day of safariing. You will be in the wilderness, which is filled with dirt, rocks, bugs, and animal feces. Don’t risk ruining your sandals; you can thank me later.

A hat, casual t-shirt, and lights pants is the ideal outfit to wear on an African safari.

Safari Outfit #2 Review

The details:

My thoughts:

Although this outfit seems like your stereotypical safari wear, it was the least practical of the bunch. Game drives can last hours, meaning you may be forced to “mark your territory” behind a bush (if you know what I mean). This jumpsuit did not make it easy. I had to unbutton the whole thing, which took a while, and then do my business entirely naked in the great outdoors. Even if you are going to a reserve or national park with established rest stops and bathrooms, such as Kruger National Park, I would still advise against this outfit; taking it off and putting it back on is time-consuming. I often held up the group because of it!

Some positives were that this was a jumpsuit, meaning it covered my legs and protected them from mosquito bites. My arms were exposed, but this helped with the heat, and I could easily throw on a sweatshirt when I got cold. It also looked super cute in photos!

Once again, the hiking boots were a great, practical choice.

A picture of a jumpsuit, which you can wear on an African safari, but it is inconvenient.

Safari Outfit #3 Review

The details:

My thoughts:

I feel the same about this t-shirt as I did about the one featured in outfit #1: cool and comfortable (with, unfortunately, no protection from mosquitos). However, the pants were the highlight of this outfit. Although not the most stylish, convertible cargo pants will be your best friend on safari. The temperature can fluctuate a lot (and very quickly), so you’ll need an adaptable outfit. When I got hot, I converted the pants into shorts; when I got cold, I zipped the pant legs right back on. They are also durable and comfortable. You can’t go wrong with convertible cargo pants!

Again, hiking boots are always a good idea.

Safari Outfit #4 Review

The details:

  • Casual t-shirt
  • Cropped leggings
  • Sneakers

My thoughts:

I wore this outfit because all of my other outfits were dirty. The t-shirt was fine, as I previously mentioned, but I regret having worn cropped leggings with it. My ankles were not protected, which the bugs seemed to enjoy. It also made me rather cold during the morning, as my exposed ankles made my body rather chilly, no matter how many sweatshirts I put on.

I wore sneakers by accident. I meant to put on my hiking boots, but it had slipped my mind. Honestly, sneakers worked just as well. They did not provide the support I had come to expect during my safaris, but they did the job, and I would not necessarily advise against them.

My Conclusions

Based on my personal experience, I believe a safari hat, casual t-shirt, light jacket, lightweight pants (or convertible cargo pants), and hiking boots are the best things to wear on an African safari. Skip on the stylish safari outfits, as they can complicate your day and leave you uncomfortable; it is not a fashion show!

P.S. Do not worry about the color of your clothes. According to my guide, who goes on safari for a living, the animals can only see in black and white. Additionally, they see the vehicle and those inside it as a single unit, so wearing a particular color will not make a difference. To prove this, my guide wore bright red patterned pants on many of our game drives. The animals did not bat an eye. If you want to wear hot pink on your safari, nothing should stop you!

African Safari Packing List

Now you know what to wear on an African safari. To ensure you do not forget any of the items I mentioned in this article, I put together an African safari packing list. I also included some other items that were essential to my successful experience.

  • Hat (or Shemagh scarf)
  • Lightweight long-sleeve pullover sweatshirt/zip-up jacket for cold mornings and evenings
  • Lightweight long-sleeve shirts
  • Comfortable short-sleeve shirts
  • Lightweight pants (and/or convertible cargo pants)
  • Hiking boots (sneakers may also work)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera (preferably with a long lens) and batteries
  • Bug spray with DEET or picaridin lotion
  • Malaria pills (if necessary – talk to your doctor)
  • Sunscreen
  • Energy chews
  • Flashlight

If you want to learn more about my safari experience in South Africa and the other activities that I enjoyed there, check out Episode 12 of the Runways and Byways travel podcast! It is currently available on SpotifyYouTube, and Anchor. If you’d like to find out more about my podcast in general, click here.

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What are you going to wear on your African safari? Contact me or let me know in the comments below!

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