A safari trip to South Africa can be a once in a lifetime adventure, which essentially means that you should plan it rightly. Undoubtedly clothing plays a crucial role in deciding how your safari trip unfolds. And many people are confused about what to wear on safari in South Africa.
During your South Africa safari trip, you should wear long sleeves neutral colored shirts, pants, closed boots, sunhat, and mosquito repellent. Also, keep in mind to consider any additional clothing based on the weather you are traveling to the South African Safari.
What to Wear on a Safari in South Africa
Let’s see in detail what you should be wearing on your South African safari trip.
Long Sleeves and Pants (to safeguard yourself from sun rays and insects)
Wearing long sleeves and pants is highly recommended when going on a safari trip in South Africa. The primary reason is to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays and potential insect bites. The African sun can be intense, especially during midday, and long sleeves provide a physical barrier against harmful UV radiation.
Also, long pants offer protection against thorny vegetation and help minimize the risk of insect bites, especially in areas where mosquitoes or other biting insects are prevalent. Lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton or moisture-wicking materials are ideal for long-sleeved shirts and pants, as they provide comfort in the warm climate while still offering necessary protection.
Choose Neutral and Earthy Colors (to avoid disturbing the wildlife)
Opting for neutral and earthy colors is an important consideration when selecting clothing for a South African safari trip. Colors like khaki, beige, olive green, and tan are ideal as they blend well with the natural surroundings and mimic the tones of the African landscape. This color pattern helps you seamlessly merge with the environment, making it easier to observe wildlife without causing disturbance or alarm.
Neutral colors also reduce the chances of attracting unwanted attention from animals, allowing for a more authentic and harmonious wildlife experience. It’s advisable to avoid bright and flashy colors, as they may startle or confuse the animals, altering their natural behavior and potentially limiting the quality of your wildlife sightings.
Bright color clothing is such a turn-off on a South African safari as it gives you unwanted attention in the land full of wild animals
Wear Closed Shoes (If you don’t want to be food of reptiles and insects)
Closed shoes are one of the wearings that should never be compromised on a South African safari trip. The African bush can be rugged and unpredictable, with uneven terrains and potential hazards. Therefore, it is crucial to wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or hiking boots to protect your feet from sharp rocks, thorns, and other hazards that may be encountered during walks or game drives. These types of footwear provide stability, support, and safeguard against potential injuries. It is best to choose comfortable shoes that have been broken-in prior to the safari to prevent discomfort or blisters.
Bring a Proper Sunhat (It helps against sunburn)
A proper sunhat is an essential accessory to include in your safari wardrobe. With the African sun shining down, it is important to protect your face, neck, and ears from prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays. Opt for a wide-brimmed hat that provides ample shade and coverage. The wide brim helps shield your face and neck, reducing the risk of sunburn and heatstroke. Most importantly, try to get the hat made from material made from breathable materials to ensure airflow and keep your head cool in hot weather conditions.
Avoid Strong Perfume or Cologne (It can literally impact your sightings)
When going on a safari, it is crucial to avoid wearing strong perfumes or colognes. The strong scents of perfumes can attract unwanted attention from insects, particularly mosquitoes, which can be prevalent in certain regions of South Africa. Furthermore, overpowering fragrances may disrupt the natural environment and potentially affect the behavior of wildlife. It is best to opt for unscented or lightly scented personal care products to minimize any disturbances and maintain the integrity of the safari experience.
Protection from Heat and Sunburn
Protecting yourself from the heat and sunburn is critically important during a safari trip in South Africa. In addition to wearing long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, there are other measures you can take to safeguard against the sun’s intense rays. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to exposed areas of skin is essential. Look for water-resistant options and reapply as directed throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming. Also, always consider lightweight and breathable clothing that offers UV protection. Some fabrics are specifically designed to block out harmful UV radiation, providing an extra layer of defense against sunburn.
Protection from Insects (Have an insect repellent)
Protection from insects should always be prioritized during a safari in South Africa, as certain regions may be home to mosquitoes, tsetse flies, or other biting insects. To minimize the risk of insect bites and potential diseases they may carry, apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
Look for repellents that contain DEET or other recommended active ingredients. It is advisable to follow the instructions on the product label and reapply as needed. In addition to repellent, consider wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs to provide an additional barrier against insect bites.
Avoid Colors and Odors that Attract or Repel Animals Too Much
Maintaining a low profile and minimizing disturbances to the wildlife is a fundamental principle of ethical safari practices. As such, it is important to avoid colors and odors that attract or repel animals too much.
Bright or fluorescent colors can startle animals, causing them to react defensively or flee, which disrupts their natural behavior and reduces your chances of observing them up close.
On the other hand, strong odors from heavily scented products may repel animals or pique their curiosity, altering their behavior and potentially putting you or the animals at risk. By opting for neutral colors and unscented products, you blend harmoniously with the environment and increase your chances of having authentic wildlife encounters.
Always Consider Weather Pattern When Visiting South Africa Safari
The typical safari season in South Africa starts in May and ends in October. This is the time when you get the best wildlife sightings. And these are the winter months in South Africa. If you are visiting the country during this season, you must take some warm clothing with you as they will help you in covering yourself up. But if you are not visiting South Africa during peak season, it is recommended to see the weather forecast and have the clothing ready accordingly.
What to Pack on a Safari in South Africa?
Now when you have the proper clothing, it’s time to see what you should pack for your South Africa safari trip.
- Safari Gear
- Personal Items
- Sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Insect repellent.
- Medications and any necessary prescriptions.
- Personal hygiene products.
- Travel adapter and charger for electronics.
- Travel-sized first aid kit.
- Other Essentials
- A valid passport and necessary travel documents.
- Money, credit cards, and a copy of important contact numbers.
- A lightweight rain jacket or poncho.
- A reusable water bottle.
- Optional Items
- Safari hat or bandana.
- Extra batteries or power bank for electronic devices.
- Portable flashlight or headlamp.
- Travel guidebooks or field guides for identifying wildlife.
What Not to Take on a South African Safari Trip
While it’s easy to get a list of what to pack for your South Africa safari trip, it’s equally important to know what to avoid on your trip so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Here is the list of the things you must not take with yourself during your South African safari trip.
Heavy or Bulky Luggage
Opt for lightweight and compact luggage that is easy to handle and transport. Heavy or oversized suitcases can be inconvenient during transfers and when moving between different safari lodges or camps.
Brightly Colored Clothing
It’s best to avoid wearing bright colors, such as neon or vibrant patterns, during game drives. Neutral and earth-toned clothing helps you blend into the natural environment and prevents wildlife from being startled.
Valuable Jewelry or Expensive Accessories
Leave valuable jewelry or expensive accessories at home. They are not necessary for a safari and may attract unnecessary attention or be at risk of loss or theft.
While it’s important to have some cash on hand, carrying excessive amounts can be risky. Most accommodations and safari camps offer secure payment options or accept credit cards. It’s advisable to carry a reasonable amount and keep it secure.
Consider leaving behind bulky electronics that you won’t need during your safari trip. For example, large laptops or gaming consoles may be excessive. Instead, focus on bringing essential electronics like a camera, phone, and charger.
Toiletries are usually provided at safari accommodations, so there’s no need to carry excessive amounts. Avoid bringing full-size bottles and opt for travel-sized toiletries or use the ones provided at your lodge.
Formal or Fashionable Clothing
Safaris are generally casual and relaxed, so there is no need to pack formal attire or fashionable clothing. Stick to comfortable and practical clothing suitable for outdoor activities.
Wearing the right type of clothing is essential for any travel adventure and the same is the case with South African safari. It is always feasible to put in some extra bucks in clothing if you don’t have the right one. Otherwise, wearing the wrong clothing will only increase your worries and you may not be able to make the African safari trip worthy.
Bariki was born and raised in Tanzania, the land of the magnificent Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Manyara wildlife parks. He grew up surrounded by Africa’s natural beauty. Visiting his grandpa in Moshi Kilimanjaro, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, provided him with early exposure to wildlife and the natural world.
As a technology and human rights blogger, he has always been passionate about writing. With many relatives working in the tourism industry, he has stayed abreast of the industry’s successes and challenges, which led him to write about African safaris.
Now residing in the USA, Bariki is using his firsthand knowledge to help foreigners plan their dream safari in Africa. At Posire, he shares his expertise on everything you need to know about planning a safari, from choosing the right destination to the best time to go and what to expect during your adventure.