Everyone knows what Safari clothing looks like, because we've all seen it depicted in films, photographs, and on the stage. Usually, this funny-looking garb is some iconic image of what one looked like exploring the strange deserts of Africa in 1920!
In reality, Safari gear doesn't really exist today in the same way that we picture it in our mind from those old movies, where someone is always wearing a "safari helmet" with tan riding pants, large leather boots, and that safari jacket with all the pockets!
You're allowed to dress that way on your Safari if you like, but you're probably going to get some funny looks from your fellow travelers, and most likely embarrass your spouse and kids. But don't lose your enthusiasm! There is some Safari clothing that is very appropriate to the modern Safari, and can help you brave the elements and experience more comfort on your Safari adventure.
Modern Safari Clothing
To dress well for a Safari, you have to dress smart. Ditch the cheesy camouflage outfit and stick to light colored clothes - dark clothes really do absorb light and can end up hot – and choose natural materials, rather than synthetics, to allow your skin to breathe. Comfort is key!.
There's another reason for the neutral clothing… It's safer not to wear loud colors among wildlife, and pure white clothing will show incredible amounts of dust and sweat. Black is obviously a bad choice due to the heat. That's why the stereotypical soft olive, khaki or brown is a good choice.
Just because you're on Safari doesn't mean you shouldn't pack warm clothes! African nights can be cold! So you'll want to pack daytime AND nighttime gear.
Layering is key for most kinds of travel and it's a great strategy for safari clothing. You'll want several layers that are easy to add and remove throughout the day and into the night. The inner most layer might be a simple, comfortable tank top for the hottest period of the day. On top of that, a long sleeved button down cotton shirt would be ideal - even better if the sleeves can easily roll up (and stay rolled up.) Those shirts with button tabs for holding up the sleeves, breathable flaps, and lots of pockets are ideal for safaris. Then, you should have a lightweight jacket or sweater for when the weather gets colder.
Having at least one layer with ample pockets can really add versatility to your safari wardrobe. You might have a backpack or bag to carry binoculars, sunscreen, a travel log, camera, snacks,… but it can be really handy to have pockets to store away something you might otherwise be pulling in and out of your backpack frequently (like your camera!)
Now, your Safari clothing wouldn't be complete without a Safari hat. We're not talking about the Safari helmet from the Hollywood movies, but just something to protect your head and face from the very strong desert heat. A large-brimmed hat is one of your best sun protection items whenever you're outdoors for extended periods. It's as important as sunscreen!
Comfortable shoes is also key to a good safari day. Pack lightweight shoes or simple sneakers. Sports sandals can also work quite well. If you're going on a hiking safari (rather than by vehicle), obviously your shoe choice is even more important. You may need hiking boots for their extra support.
One thing you really want to do with your Safari clothes is pack light! Choose lightweight and compact pieces of clothing, especially on Safaris where you're constantly on the move and don't stay at the same lodge for the whole trip. Many lodges are equipped with laundry service, so don't worry about wearing the same dirty clothes day after day.
In essence, keep your Safari clothes simple and light, as well as versatile. In terms of Safari gear, there are some other gizmos and gadgets that you might find useful. Carrying a convenient canteen or water bottle is a very smart idea, as is a fanny pack or small backpack for snacks and other necessities. If you're leaving your lodge to explore the wild for a day, bring your necessities in a lightweight bag that you don't mind lugging around.
Safari clothes and other Safari gear are easy to find, and in a variety of price ranges. Always keep your comfort in mind, and remember… versatility is key!
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