Easy & Affordable African Safari Outfits for Ladies

by | Nov 14, 2022 | 5 comments

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.

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woman on safari in masai wrap

What to Wear on a Safari in Kenya or Anywhere 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. 🙂 

🦒Need Help Booking Your Safari?🐆

That’s where Safari Bookings comes in. This amazing tool is how I found my dream safari package to Kenya that had 4 nights at a five-star tented camp right in Masai Mara! 

Safari Bookings is basically a search engine for some of the best safaris across Africa. It allows you to search safaris by price, length and destination—even down to individual reserves or game parks you want to hit. It makes planning your safari fun and easy!

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.

RELATED POST: 3 Easy-to-Miss Requirements for Traveling to Kenya for US Citizens

african safari vehicle

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.

Bottoms

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.

what to wear on safari in kenya

 

Tops

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.

Outerwear

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.

Shoes

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.

RELATED POST: Non-Toxic Female Toiletries for Your Carry-On Packing List

What to Wear on Safari Women: 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

Top: Thin, pale green tank top.

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).

women and safari plane in kenya

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.

woman on kenya safari with tusker beer

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!).

elephants in masai mara kenya safari

Elephants in Masai Mara by Tara Caguiat

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.

what to wear on safari

5 Comments

  1. Susan castner

    I know this post was about wardrobe choices and while i searched for promised upcoming posts, there weren’t any. I am heading off to So Africa in june w a group of somewHat adventurous ladies (ages 20 to 72) and was looking for Sites/articles to point them to where they might find some useful info.
    .
    While i safari annually, they are all safari virgins. With that in mind, i might suggest a few additions that may help for a 1st trek into the bush should you post again:

    1. Insect repellent. Yes. All camps provide bug spray (some even providing coils to burn in your tent), but i always brIng deet. Never spray 100% on your skin. The best way to use DEET is to spray it on any cotton Clothing or scarf you are wearing. A drop or 2 on the shoulder and sleeve edges and on your socks works miracles For the pre-sunrise drive and for the sundowners. I also bring bandanas. Spray then twist tightly and tie loosely around Your neck.

    2. While cotton tees or leggings may seem like a good idea, i prefer fabrics that are easily hand washed and can dry quickly inside your tent. (You haven’t laughed until you hear that obnoxious “affluent” poseur with the LV duffel screaming bloody murder as you catch a glimpse of a huge male baboon scampering away with her undoubtedly expensive red brassiere because she left it on the deck chaise to dry.) it may seem that portland-based columbia sportswear is distributed gratis as you go through immigration because it is omnipresent but its my go to garb.

    3. Travel insurance is an absolute must. Full stop. Not just for missed flights but it also came in handy earlier this year when i was thrown out of the land rover after bouncing into and out of a collapsed warthog burrow – and who knew warthogs lived in burrows! The airlift flight to the hospital in lusaka, Zambia, was also covered. American express also replaced the brand new MIRRORLESS canon and the 100-500mm lens since they were both 4 days old.

    4. Side trip suggestions are always helpful. The Blixen house, of course. The Sheldrick sanctuary as well. For other locations – Robben island…victoria falls… the wineries…the delta… the only thing i would wave off is the migration. Who really needs to see what can only be DESCRIBED as the world’s LARGEST buffet for the top of africa’s Predatory food chain?

    All suggestions are just my two cehts. Enjoy.

    Reply
  2. Fiona

    Finally! someone who gets that it’s not about spending $400 on a jacket or $300 for a pair of pants! Like you, I picked out of my wardrobe first and hit goodwill and a favorite thrift store for the fill-ins. 3 columbia shirts (2 brand new) total $20. Tuesdays are 25% off for seniors! my local thrift store had a gorgeous exofficio brand new dark green button up shirt that feels like silk for $8..boots from a consignment store (where I had a credit)..cost $0!!! i’d rather have the money to do other things..half the fun is planning and looking for cool items. 🙂 looking forward to my trip this year!

    Reply
    • Tara

      Exactly! I totally agree. Have an amazing trip!!

      Reply
  3. Rany

    Wonderful and very narrative helpful information.

    Thank you for sharing

    Reply
    • Tara

      My pleasure! Glad it was helpful 😀

      Reply

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I’m Tara Weber—a Sarasota, Florida based travel blogger and copywriter. On She Needs Less, I share my adventures across our beautiful planet and inspire women to build self confidence and independence so they can live the life they dream of. No matter how unconventional!
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