You’ve booked your trip to Africa (or you’re in the planning phase) and you keep wondering what to wear on a safari! You want to be stylish since you’ll likely be taking A LOT of photos, but you also want to dress appropriately for the climate and activities. I totally get it. When I was planning my recent trip to Kenya, I had no idea how to plan my safari outfits!
With the right packing tips, you can create a versatile, practical, and fashionable wardrobe for your safari trip. In this article, we’ll explore some essential tips for packing the perfect safari outfits, including practical considerations like weather and terrain, as well as fashion-forward choices that will make you feel like a true safari explorer. So let’s dive in and discover how to create the ultimate African safari outfits.
What to Wear on a Safari in Africa
When you’re on safari, you want to blend into nature as much as possible. Sure, you’re going to be in a big truck and clearly not a part of nature, but you still want to be hard for the animals to spot. For example, sometimes guides won’t want you to stand up in the vehicle because some animals will run when they see the outline of a human (at least that’s what I heard).
Safari Clothing Colors
Certain colors work best on safari. You want to wear neutral, nature tones, like olive green and beige. You can even get away with browns and very neutral colors and still look the part, but avoid white (too bright in the sun), black or dark blue. These dark colors attract Tsetse flies which have a painful bite, so if nothing else, just avoid dark colors.
You also want to avoid wearing anything camouflage on safari, just to be safe. Many African countries actually prohibit wearing camo.
Truthfully, I’m not sure how much it matters what color you wear as far as the animals are concerned. Like I said, you’re in a truck the whole time so it may or may not really make a difference if you wear the classic safari outfits. For me, it was really important to get the full safari experience, clothes and all. And I imagine you’re reading this because you feel the same. 🙂
Choosing the Right Fabrics for Your Safari Outfits
You’re going to be spending hours outside (maybe even your entire day for full-day safaris), so you want to choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that will be comfortable through heat, sweat and wind.
Man-made performance fabrics that are breathable and sweat-wicking will work great, as well as quality cotton, linen and even wool.
Keep in mind you want to be able to protect yourself from the sun and easily add/remove layers for when it’s cold in the morning and evening.
Safari Clothes Comfort
When on safari, you need to be comfortable more than anything. You’re going to be sitting in a truck bumping up an down for hours on end (don’t worry it’s way more fun than it sounds) and it’s so important that your clothes don’t take away from your experience.
Another thing to know is that you may be using the bathroom…in the bush. Yes, I mean outside. Behind the truck. So you definitely want to wear clothes that you can quickly squat down in and do your business.
Skip the jeans and find comfortable pants in a neutral tone like olive green or beige. You could wear cotton pants, leggings, a jumpsuit or even shorts. Just make sure to check the weather of your destination and how bad the mosquitos are so you’re covered up enough for the conditions.
Remember, you’ll likely be starting your safari around 6:30am and many African countries get pretty cold. On my recent safari in Masai Mara, Kenya in October, the mornings were around 60°F. I’d wear a sweater over my outfit, then wrap up in the traditional Masai wraps our safari guide gave us.
For tops, you want to keep sun protection in mind as well as comfort. Even though you’re in a vehicle, you still get a decent amount of sun.
A thin button up shirt with sleeves that can roll up is perfect for sun protection. However, I recommend wearing a lighter top, like a tank top or lightweight t-shirt, and bringing the button up along. That way you’re comfortable at the warmest part of the day, and you can put on a layer if you get cold or need sun protection.
You could even wear a dress for the day as long as it’s long enough to keep you warm in the mornings. I didn’t bring a dress on my trip, but I wish I did! It would have been so comfy and convenient.
Pack a good sun hat with a neck strap, a scarf to protect your neck (even better if you can use it as a shawl for sun protection) and a lightweight sweater or jacket to get you through chilly mornings.
On safari, you can wear pretty much any shoes you want, including tennis shoes, boots or sandals. If you do go the sandals route, I recommend wearing a sturdy pair like Birkenstocks or even Rainbows, versus thin rubber flip flops. You don’t do too much walking on safari, except when stopping in the bush to eat lunch or use the bathroom. The Masai Tribe people all wear sandals, if that helps convince you. 😉
I was DEAD SET on wearing boots on my safari in Kenya. I just couldn’t see the perfect safari outfits in my mind working with anything but boots. After searching high and low for bougie leather boots and returning THREE pairs of $175 boots that didn’t fit, I ended up getting chic, simple rain boots for under $35! I absolutely love the boots because they’re waterproof, stylish and extremely comfortable.
Safari Outfits Ideas & Examples
Okay, now that you have an idea of the types of safari clothes to wear, let’s get into examples.
Safari Outfit #1
Bottoms: High-waisted cotton pants in olive green.
Shoes: Black rain boots.
Outerwear: Thin cotton scarf that doubles as a shawl and beige sweater with turtle neck (second picture).
Safari Outfit #2
Top: Light brown, cotton tank top.
Bottoms: Olive green cotton jumpsuit.
Shoes: Black rain boots.
Outerwear: Infinity scarf and beige sweater with turtle neck (not pictured).
Safari Outfit #3
Top: Beige linen beach cover up top.
Bottoms: Olive green exercise leggings from American Eagle.
Shoes: Black rain boots.
Outerwear: Brown silk jacket and thin scarf (both not pictured).
How to Find Affordable Outfits for Safari
Your African safari trip is going to be expensive enough. There’s no reason to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe for it. By combining new and thrifted items with that you already have, you can create amazing safari outfits that look killer in pictures, without breaking the bank.
I got all the pieces I needed to complete my safari wear for $100 by shopping used at Goodwill and a local boutique. Here’s how I did it.
Find the Safari Clothes in Your Closet
Go through your closet and pull out anything light colored and comfortable that you think could work on safari. Think tees, tanks, sweaters, scarves, pants and leggings. It doesn’t matter how much or little you have, you’re going to build on whatever you need when shopping.
Once you have a pile of safari-type clothes, make a list of the pieces you need so you know what to look for when thrifting.
Finding Safari Clothes at Goodwill or a Thrift Store
If you’re in the United States, it’s likely you have a few Goodwill stores in your area. Head to the one that’s in the wealthiest area near you and plan to spend around three hours shopping.
Once you get to the store, grab a cart and go up and down every single aisle for women’s clothing. Look for olive green and beige clothes specifically, and grab anything in those colors that looks like it might fit you. If your Goodwill is anything like the one in my town, you’ll be shocked at how many cool pieces you find!
Once you have a cart full, head to the dressing rooms. Trying clothes on is *the key* to finding gems at Goodwill or any thrift store, so definitely make time for it. When I tried on all items in my cart, I was shocked at what fit and what didn’t. Sometimes the item that looks like it’s impossible ends up being the best find of the day after you’ve tried it on!
Finding Safari Clothes In Stores & Online
If you don’t find everything you need second-hand, look for safari clothes online. Once you’ve gone through your closet and determined the items you still need, it’s much easier to shop online because you can search for each specific piece. Pinterest is amazing for inspiration (of course!).
You’re Going to Look So Good on Safari
Okay, now that you know how to plan safari outfits and find stylish safari clothes on a budget, you’re ready to start planning your safari packing list and safari trip! Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on how to pack for a safari in Kenya and plan your safari in Kenya.
And of course if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to comment below or send me an email.