I’ve been to Africa twice. The first time was to Kenya and Tanzania. The second time I visited Namibia and Botswana. I got a little carried away the first time with getting clothes and other items through google searches and reading others blogs. The second time around I learned what to keep from my last trip, what not to bring, and what I needed to buy. I am passing this knowledge onto you so you don’t make the same costly mistakes I did. Read on to find out what to wear on an African Safari.
My goal is to be somewhat fashionable while still being functional. So with that in mind, let’s get started.
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I’m a legging girl. I didn’t use to be but they are so darn comfortable. With that in mind I decided to buy safari colored leggings and match them with cute and functional tops. My go to is Athleta brand. The are expensive but are quality and last a long time. I love my olive green Salutation Stash Pocket II Tights. The pockets are great for storing your cell phone. I also have the bra to match. For a cheaper version, I like RBX tights. I also bought these tights in olive along with the matching bra. They are a bit heavier then the Athleta tights which helped out in Namibia and Botswana as the mornings were quite cold.
For a cute outfit, I paired a long sleeve tan Columbia shirt with the olive green Athleta leggings. Here is a knockoff I found on Amazon as it doesn’t appear Columbia makes that color anymore. Note my cute sandals I bought in a mall in Windhoek made from Eland leather. They are super comfortable but size way down because the leather stretches after a while.
Went I went to Kenya and Tanzania, I had bought some Halle pants from Prana in olive green. They were very comfortable and light weight for the warm weather there. Overall Prana makes great quality clothes has tons of pants in safari colors.
Another great lightweight pant (which I have 3 pairs) are the RBX capri pant. I bought the khaki color for my first Africa safari trip. For lightweight pants and shirts to keep bugs away and provide sun protection I love Exofficio. I have the Lumen Full-Zip Hoodie in blue, but for Africa you want to stay away from blue. The African tsetse fly is attracted to blue and black. At last check they were low on stock but I’m hoping they will restock this hoodie soon. I’ve been wanting to buy it in another color along with this jacket. They also have some convertible pants that zip into shorts when the weather gets hotter in the afternoons.
My go to underwear is Exofficio. You can wash them in your sink and they quick dry. If you have a smaller chest, the bras are fantastic.
For shoes, I brought 3 pairs: hiking shoes, water shoes/sandals, and dress sandals. My go to is Keen for hiking and water shoes. I love my water shoes/sandals. They are cute with dresses and you can hike in them too! My go to for stylish dress sandals are Italian Shoemakers brand. I have 7 pairs of shoes in this brand because they are cute, affordable, and very comfortable.
For socks, I bought Darn Tough wool socks for my husband and I on Amazon. They got great reviews and have cute patterns.
I recommend layering in the morning. It can get quite cold at night especially in the desert. It was down to freezing some nights. When you look at the weather forecast, make sure you look at the highs AND lows. I made the mistake of focusing on the high temperatures during the day and didn’t bring enough warm clothes. My regret was not bringing base layers for the morning and evening game drives. My leggings were not enough to keep me warm and at one point I ended up layering my sweat pants over top of my leggings. As an alternative you can buy fleece leggings which I have two: Rainier by Athleta and these by RBX. Of course neither got packed for Africa as they should have. Don’t let this photo be you! Be prepared for cold morning game drives. Note: The gator was worn for warmth, not safety. Luckily the guides had fleece parkas for us to wear (as shown below), blankets, and rubber hot water bottles.
I also recommend a warm coat. I bring my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with my on every trip. It’s light, packs up tight, and keeps me warm. Shown below is me in my Patagonia puff jacket, RBX leggings, and Targhee II Keen hiking shoes in Namibia. I had on so many layers underneath it was not flattering (which is why I should have brought a good base layer).
I brought two hats with me: a sun hat and a warm hat. For sunhats, I recently bought one by Outdoor Research (OR) called Bugout Brim Hat. I wore my alpaca beanie I got in Peru more than my sun hat for my trip to Namibia and Botswana. I like my OR brim hat because it fold up nicely in my suitcase.
I brought one pair of Pact brand khaki shorts and paired it with a olive green tank top from Banana Republic. I’ve bought a couple items from Pact and they are all good quality organic cotton. They make also great cotton underwear.
What Not to Bring
I spent a lot of time on my first trip choosing the iconic safari vest because I thought that’s what you wear on an African Safari. I did wear it quite a lot in Kenya and Tanzania but it sat in my suitcase for my second trip to Africa. We ended up taking a backpack everywhere so all my items (lip balm, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.) were stored in that instead of my travel vest. For those of you that insist on one, I bought this one but there are cheaper versions on Amazon. It does make for a great safari pic!
To summarize, I tend to stick with a few name brands: Athleta, Columbia, Patagonia, Prana, Exofficio, Outdoor Research, RBX, Gap, and Keen. You can find some great knockoffs on Amazon if these are outside your price range. Whatever brand you choose to wear on an African Safari, make sure your clothes match your destination and weather forecast. Plan on cool/cold mornings/evenings and warm afternoons. Stay away from blues and dark colors and try to choose neutral colors when possible. Don’t forget to pack something fun to wear in the evenings along with some cute shoes!