Get excited! You’re packing for the adventure of a lifetime. If you’re headed off on safari in Africa, you’re in good company. Millions of tourists choose Africa because of their safari destination for its amazing sites, stunning wildlife, and friendly locals.

When you’re packing those bags, you’ll probably ask yourself what to wear on safari to have the best possible travel experience. After all, half the fun of travel is to expect the unexpected, but that does make packing a little tough, to say the least.

The good news is that with a little research, you can easily figure out the best safari wear and know what to pack. Here, we’re going to give you some tips to make your clothing choices the most practical as possible.

Modesty Is Key

When you’re getting excited for your trip, it can be easy to forget that you’re not just going to a fun place to see cool animals and new sites. You’re going into someone’s home and cultural space, and it would be extremely disrespectful to disregard their customs and traditions when you’re the guest.

Doing research on the local culture and beliefs is crucial to figuring out what to pack to wear on safari. You’re going to be interacting with people who are from the area you’re going to, so you don’t want to cause offence.

Since 50% of Tanzania’s population is Muslim, this means you’re going to want to cover up a little more than you might be used to. Pack clothes with long sleeves and long pants that don’t show too much skin so you have something to wear when interacting with locals.

Also, a lot of places you might want to stay on Safari, including hotels and restaurants, have dress codes that enforce modest clothes. This is similar to the US’s ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service’ policy. So when you’re packing, make sure you have clothes that aren’t going to get you kicked out of the cool places you want to go!

Keep It Breathable

That being said, though, African countries can get extremely hot, so you don’t want to sacrifice the practical side of the dress, either. Even when you have to wear long clothes, make sure you’re wearing something airy and breathable. This in addition to drinking lots of water will make sure that you don’t get too hot.

Think about getting shirts and pants that are made of breathable cottons. There are also bamboo fiber shirts you can buy online that are great for keeping cool. Linen fabric or a linen and cotton blend will do the trick, too.

Also, keep color in mind when you’re deciding what to wear. Bright colors are a no-no in a lot of African communities, but you still don’t want to wear black when the sun is beating down on you. Think about packing dull greens and grays as well as whites when you’re deciding what to wear on safari.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Covering up also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pack any T-shirts. In fact, T-shirts are something that you’re going to wear a lot of the time. When you’re not in an area that you’re interacting with locals, you can definitely get away with short sleeves and stay comfortable and cool.

An important thing to note, though, before you do this, is that there are going to be a lot of bugs that you aren’t used to when you go on safari. Mosquitoes, especially, are everywhere, and can carry diseases like malaria and the Zika virus. Even though you need to get vaccines before heading out, you still don’t want too much contact with these diseases!

This is why layering is effective when deciding what to wear. You can bring T-shirts and wear them in areas where there aren’t too many bugs. But bring and carry a light, airy jacket with long sleeves. When you find yourself in a place with a lot of bugs, you can just throw it on over your shirt.

Lightweight jackets are also great for when you enter a town with locals. This way, you can wear the T-shirt when you’re not around anyone who might be offended, but put on the jacket when you’re around people who won’t appreciate short clothes. In this way, comfort and sensitivity can go hand in hand!

Warmer Clothes

Besides, in the evenings and early mornings, a lot of places can get pretty cool. When you think of a lot of African countries, you probably just assume a year-round stifling heat, but this isn’t the case. When the sun isn’t up and beating down on everything, temperatures drop… a lot.

This is another reason to grab your jackets- it will stop you from freezing when you’re taking expeditions at these times. Even if you decide that you’re going to mostly stick to layering, you might also want to bring at least one long sleeve shirt. Better safe than sorry!

This is especially the case in winter. Even if winters there are super temperate and most people in South Africa tend to forget they even have a winter, you as a westerner are still going to feel it.

Think about the possibility of slightly colder weather when you’re checking your safari packing list. You won’t regret it.

Shorts… Maybe

When things are warmer, it might be tempting to wear shorts. There’s a lot of debate on whether this is a good idea or not, and might be best to shy away from for that reason. But if you really want to wear shorts, you can probably get away with it if you’re careful.

If you’re a man, you can almost certainly get away with loose, long shorts. They’re pretty inoffensive and you might even see some locals wearing them! That being said, you aren’t going to want to rely on them much. Many places, especially indoors, have dress codes that this won’t fly under.

Still, a pair of long shorts might be a good idea to pack for men. Just be careful of bugs and keep an eye out for whether or not the locals seem okay with your clothes, and you’ll be fine.

Things are trickier for women. Because Islam values modesty and you will probably encounter many people who practice it, it might be a good idea to move away from shorts altogether. If this upsets you, that makes sense, but remember that you’re going into someone else’s cultural space and their customs and beliefs are important, too.

Still, you might be able to get away with wearing long shorts in some places, as long as they’re baggy. Short shorts are a definite no-go, but if the go down pretty far you can probably wear them in places where there aren’t locals.

Top It Off

When you’re on Safari, it is crucial that you bring a hat. Make sure that it has a brim and covers both your head and face. The sun is very strong, hot, and bright in most desert and jungle areas. You don’t want to get caught where you have the sun in your face, both hot and bright.

Using a hat can help prevent sunburn on your face and neck. This is important because sunburn can become really painful and blister when you let it happen, and it can get really bad when you have the sun beating down on you 24/7. Sunburn can also lead to skin cancer, so you want to avoid it anyway.

Sand also tends to blow around when you’re in desert areas, so a hat is important because it will keep sand and dirt out of your face. You don’t want an accident that lands you in the hospital in a foreign country for a scratched eye.

Another plus to hats is that bugs will be a lot less likely to fly in your face. So, a hat is crucial to a good African safari.

Get Off On The Right Foot

Another easy thing to forget about when packing are what shoes you’re going to want to wear. Of course, hard-soled boots with thick socks are a must, since you’re going to be walking around a lot.

Make sure that the boots you bring are durable. You’re going to want to invest in a new, high-quality pair before heading out. After all, your safari will be an awful experience if you wear down the soles halfway through or your boot is pierced by a rock or something.

You can also bring a pair of flip-flops or sandals. When in stationary or less active moments of your safari, you might want to just throw these on since they’re comfy and perfect for hot weather.

Know What To Wear On Safari

When you’re figuring out what to wear on safari, keep in mind that cultural sensitivity is the first and foremost important thing that you need to consider, but not at the expense of practicality. It’s important to think about what you’re going to need ahead of time and pack accordingly.

Now that you know all about the clothes you’ll need to pack for your safari, check out these trip ideas to figure out an itinerary that’s best for you.

Get dressed and ready for the adventure of your life!