Quick checklist: what to wear on safari in South Africa

Hurray, you are going on a safari! But what to wear on safari in South Africa? Especially if it is your first time on safari it might be super confusing what to bring on safari. You are reading all those blogs with extensive safari packing lists, right? And do they make you feel like you should buy a whole new wardrobe? We promise you, we are going to save you money! And that while still bringing all you need. Please find below all our tips and recommendations on what to wear on safari in South Africa.

What to wear on safari in South Africa

Neutral colours

It could be an endless discussion; what colour should you not wear on safari? We do go with the general advice to preferably wear neutral colours like khaki, green and brown. These colours will attract less, are more suitable with the heat of the sun on you and you blend nicely in the surrounding. It will make you feel one with the nature around you and looks nice in the photos.

However, this is not a strict rule in general. We have seen many people wearing bright and popping colours on safari like pink or blue. They could join the game drives without any issue, and it did not seem that the animals cared much about the popping colours that attract them (not expert advice). Overall, you could wear quite “standard” clothing. Even your shorts, flip-flops or crop tops if you want to. But keep in mind the weather and flies.

What you do need to keep in mind is that dark colours like black and dark blue/purple seem to attract more flies. On the other hand, bright clothing like white will show all the dust and dirt easily.

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Comfy wear on safari is key

Leave your high heels at home. You really do not need to wear this on safari. Be as comfortable as you want to be and enjoy that moment to the fullest. You will be surrounded by the wilderness, the bush with wild animals. There is sand all around and most likely dirt roads. It is very likely that you will connect to nature like you never experienced before. All that while enjoying the serenity and peaceful surrounding. You can perfectly shut off from your day-to-day life.

The game drives mostly consist of you sitting in a car – either your own or a jeep. You want to be comfortable sitting for long times and be able to turn and look around easily. Besides that, the weather is important to keep in mind. You do not want to be cold or super sweaty from the African sun in an open jeep.

Are you looking for a great private safari in a comfortable lodge? We had a great experience at Tangala Safari Lodge in Kruger Park. Check it out, click on the link!

Wear layers on safari

This is really a recommendation to follow. It is so easy to dress well for a safari with layers. This way you can handle any weather change from the cold to the heat. Cotton clothing is highly recommended. Also as this is lightweight and dries quickly. On your safari game drives, you can wear a t-shirt but you also bring a hoodie and potentially a scarf. Often, jeeps do also bring blankets for you. You can bring trousers with a zipper to make them short. But just comfortable jogging (so you can roll it up), leggings or airy trousers will do as well.

When bringing clothing that can act as layers, you can also easily combine outfits and not wear the same every day. It will be easier to mix things or get some clothing cleaned (if you have laundry service) in meantime. This will really reduce all the luggage space for what you wish to wear on safari.

This also counts for your pyjama! It can get cold at night, so make sure you can sleep comfortably in the right clothing.

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Don’t overspend on clothes for the safari

First of all, what you will pack for a safari depends on a few factors. However, in general, a brand-new wardrobe is not required unless you like to go on safari in full fashionable safari style. Which also can be super fun!

But how do we know all this? We have been there and done that. We read several blogs with packing lists and what to wear for safari. And those lists were endlessly long! It went into detail and prepared us for any situation that might happen (yes including all medical items to bring). To bring all that to wear on safari, could fill up a full suitcase on its own! After all, we now believe those lists may be for the “die-hard” and deep into the bush and basic safari travellers. Definitely not for us staying in a comfortable lodge with a private jeep driver.

If you are going on a “regular” safari trip for your holiday, you will be more than fine with our recommendations on what to wear. There is a big chance that you already have outfits like this in your wardrobe that you can use. It is also recommended to bring some older outfits as you can get dirty.

Fun accessories

What accessories can you not miss on safari? There are several ones!

  • Sunglasses: no safari without sunglasses. You need it for the sun and to be at ease when spotting an animal.
  • Binoculars: even if it is an essential item to spot animals at a distance, it is also a nice extra accessory to your safari outfit!
  • Scarf: you might wonder why you need to wear this on an African safari. Well, it might be good to bring a (light) scarf in case the temperature drops or in case the heat of the sun is getting too much. You could wrap it around you, or also use it in front of your face in case there are some dusty wind storms.
  • Hat: the sun can be burning hot! For protection, do bring a hat or cap in case you need it. Also, see if that protects your neck and ears. On the other hand, it could also help you on rainy days to have a bit more cover in an open jeep.
  • Flashlight: walking back to your safari tent or bungalow might be pretty dark at night. A flashlight will come in handy.
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Other important things to know for your safari packing list

But what are then those factors to take into account when you decide on what you will wear on your safari in South Africa? See below.

What to wear on safari depends on where you stay

Your safari accommodation could be an important factor to take into account when deciding on what you will wear. There are multiple reasons to potentially adjust your safari packing list:

  • Is your safari lodge a luxury accommodation? Luxury lodges might have some requirements for the outfits that you are wearing. Especially for dinner at night when you do need to be a bit more dressed up. It might be good to double-check this.
  • How basic is your safari trip? The other way around. If you go very basic camping, you might need to prepare for what you will wear on safari. Also to be more prepared for any type of weather or other circumstances.
  • How long will you be on safari? The longer your trip, the more you need to bring. Or not! Do check if you have laundry services. This will make your packing life much easier.
  • Is there a swimming pool? If your accommodation provides a pool you will want to bring your swim outfit and other comfy clothing to lounge.
  • What other activities does your accommodation provide? For example a walking safari. In that case, you are often required to wear neutral colours only.
  • In which region is your accommodation? The African regions can differ much from each other with the animals you can spot, the nature and the weather. For example, in Kruger Park, it can get really hot. But in Addo Elephant park in the south, it can be much colder.

Are you going on a private safari or self-drive?

The biggest difference would be that you are sitting in an (open) jeep, or in a closed car that you are driving yourself. This will definitely impact your decisions on what to wear during your safari adventure.

  • Open jeep: be prepared for different weather circumstances (hot, cold, sun and rain). Perhaps you wish to adjust the colours you are wearing to blend in with nature.
  • Driving yourself in a closed car: you have a roof to cover yourself from the heat, and maybe air conditioning. The colours of your outfit might require less attention as you are sitting in a closed car.

The climate: in which month are you going on safari?

You might think that it is always warm and sunny in Africa. Nope! Be prepared for big climate differences between the months in South Africa. These differences could impact the temperature, the strength of the sun and also importantly; the rainfall! To have an idea of the rainfall, Sanparks from South Africa prepared this helpful overview where you can check the rainfall per month for the last years. This might help you plan your trip to Kruger Park better!

In general, the Kruger National Park has the winter and summer opposite from those in Europe and USA. The summer months are from October to April, and the winter is from May to September.

Wear outfits according to the temperature on a morning, day and evening safari

And this is exactly why the layers come in handy! The difference between the temperature on a morning and day safari can be massive. That is even besides the climate differences per month. So make sure to check the weather forecast and that you wear outfits that you can layer during your different safari game drives.

  • Morning drive: often the morning drive starts around 5 AM. It is still dark and the air is much cooler. In the winter months, it can be really cold and you will need to wear warm clothing on your safari drive with a blanket. We used to wear (in October) long sleeve shirts, sleeveless body warmer and long trousers. Or a t-shirt under a hoodie with long trousers. Heading towards the end of the drive (approx. 8 AM) we noticed that the temperature was increasing rapidly and we could take our body warmer or hoodies off. Do bring your sunglasses already for the morning drive. You will need this after a spectacular sunrise.
  • Afternoon drive: depending on the start time, in October it could be pretty hot. One day we started at 4 PM at 37 degrees celsius! I was happy to wear a hat on this day. We just wore shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. It could be advised to wear long sleeve t-shirts to protect you from the sun.
  • Evening drive: the moment the sunset kicks in, the temperate can also drop quite rapidly. After a hot day, this might be very refreshing. On other days it can get cold. Bring layers to put over your t-shirt for example. Or wear the blanket provided in the safari jeep.

Going on safari is a true bucket list travel experience! Do make sure that you read all of our safari blog posts to make the most out of it and to be prepared properly.

How much luggage can you bring on the safari to wear?

Aha, a good point! First of all, just don’t overpack. you should not bring too much for your safari if you will still continue on another road trip through South Africa afterwards. Perhaps you can pack smartly and wear the clothing from the safari as well on the “regular” days of your holiday. Your suitcase is always packed full quicker than you expected.

On the other hand, you also need to keep in mind the transportation in South Africa for your safari. Some luxury accommodation flies their guests to the lodge in a helicopter. There might be limited space. Or maybe your rental car isn’t big enough for suitcases for more people? Or, if you continue your trip in South Africa after a safari with airlines nationally. Then you will need to double-check their luggage allowances (also for the cabin).

What should you not wear on a safari in South Africa?

Is this going to be another debate? Oh, there is so much advice around the internet! We will just provide you with our opinion of what not to wear, which we discovered during our safari trip.

  • Hiking shoes / big boots: this might differ per the type of safari trip you will do. But for a self-drive and a “regular” game-drive jeep safari you really do not need to buy or bring this. Do not waste your money or space in your suitcase. We prefer to just wear sneakers, sandals or even flip-flops! You are sitting all the time and bigger boots can be super hot (like Nadiim had his Timberlands). Fun fact: Jorinde even had a broken toe and was wearing a bandage with a protective open shoe! No inconvenience at all. (Besides needing my prince to carry me to get off the jeep haha)
  • Camouflage clothing (military style): it might look super adventurous but in some African countries you are not allowed to wear this.
  • Black or dark blue/purple clothing: we did not experience this, but our safari members told us that this could attract flies more. Besides that, it can be hot in the sun.
  • Clothes that do not cover your skin: yes we wore shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. But in general, we liked it more to wear trousers up to minimum the knees and sleeves up to the elbows. It is more comfortable in the sun and you rubbing on the seats of the jeep.
  • Jeans: it is just not comfortable and doesn’t dry quickly.
  • Heavy clothing/fabrics: you do not want to sweat, feel overheated or for it to take ages to dry. Pick light weighted clothing.

Quick checklist: what to wear on safari in South Africa

Time to sum up what you should wear on safari in South Africa! A quick checklist to make sure you do not overspend unnecessarily and still have all the clothes for safari with you that you need. Remember the key points: neutral preferred, comfortable, lightweight, sun protection, for all climates/temperatures and layers!

  • Tshirts with sleeves: up to the elbow
  • Hoodie or jacket: to layer for cold – we loved fleece jackets!
  • Rain jacket: depending on the time of the year
  • Long trousers: either with zippers, jogging, legging or other lightweight trousers
  • Short trousers: preferably up to min. the knee
  • Comfortable underwear & bra
  • Outfit for dinner: at night if required for your accommodation
  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf (and perhaps gloves for the winter months)
  • Hat
  • Swimwear
  • Chill and lounge clothing
  • Flipflops / sandals
  • Closed shoes: like sneakers
  • Nightwear to sleep: where it likely gets colder
  • Small bag/foldable backpack: in case you wish to bring a water bottle or your camera during the safari game drive
  • A must: sun protector

Of course, there could be more personal preferences in what to bring. Other items you should not forget are your medications and items for hygiene like shampoo and toothpaste.

We hope you can pack easily with this quick checklist of what to bring to South Africa. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are more than happy to share our experiences.

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