Taking the right safari clothing with you to Africa is one of the more important decisions you will make about your trip. The conditions you will encounter on a safari means you have to take some specialized clothes but be careful not to go overboard.
Here are the apparel essentials for a safari…
The African sun can be very strong particularly if you are used to a milder climate so a good hat to protect you from sunburn is essential.
What makes a good safari hat? One with a brim that provides you with all round protection because the sun will burn you even when it is low on the horison.
It should be absorbent on the inside because you are going to be sweating in the African heat and waterproof on the outside for those sudden thunderstorms that can catch you unawares.
And it needs to be gas permeable so that heat can escape and allow you to cool off because a large percentage of the body heat you generate is lost through your head. The hat should be tough and rugged to withstand regular use and if possible be crush packable because space is going to be at a premium on your trip.
You need to pack some long as well as short sleeved shirts because the ones with the longer sleeves come in handy at night to protect you from mosquitoes but they are too hot to wear during the day.
And remember to leave the brightly coloured shirts at home especially if you are going on a walking safari because they make you stick out like a sore thumb in the African bush. It’s much better to blend in so pick khaki, olive or brown garments but this is less important if you are going to be in a safari vehicle all the time because the animals don’t take any notice of you then.
As far as the material goes you want something that will “breathe” because you can expect to get pretty hot on safari so lightweight, durable, non-synthetic material is the best.
Safari Trousers and Shoes
Again, you need to pack both long and short trousers to cover up at night against those pesky mosquitoes (it is often still warm at night but a little discomfort is better than being bitten) and you can wear the shorts during the heat of the day.
Muted, neutral colours are best but avoid white as it will become dirty quickly.
Safari boots are only essential if you are going to be walking through the bush. If you are going to be spending most of your time in the vehicle then a pair of comfortable shoes or sandals will do just fine. The sandals are particularly useful back at camp because they are cool and you can slip them on and off quickly.
In summer, the only time that you are going to need a safari jacket on safari is late at night and in the early mornings because the temperature can drop sharply then. In winter, you might need it during the day but when the sun shines the temperature can be remarkably mild even in winter.
If you are a keen photographer a safari jacket or vest with many pockets is extremely handy because you can take all your photographic equipment with you. Twenty pockets is more than enough for most travel situations and a few interior pockets are also a good idea for the really valuable stuff.
Find out what the six worst safari clothing mistakes are that people make and how to avoid them.
Safari hats must perform these three functions very well to be effective on a safari trip.