What NOT to wear on safari - African Encounters

What NOT to wear on safari

An African safari is truly a bucket-list, and often life-changing, adventure. And being well prepared ensures it really is the trip you’ve always dreamed of. Days on safari can be long, dusty, and action-packed, and having the right clothes can make a big difference to your experience. An African safari isn’t about fashion, it’s about safety and comfort. So here are my 6 tips on what NOT to wear on safari!

Kenya game drive - what not to wear on safari

Don’t wear black or dark blue

Tsetse flies are attracted to those colours and you definitely don’t want to be a tsetse magnet. While they won’t give you sleeping sickness they are vicious little monsters with a nasty bite. In some regions, woodland areas in western Serengeti or Tarangire National Park in Tanzania in particular, you’ll see blue and black cloths impregnated with insecticide hanging in the trees – a warning sign you’re in tsetse territory and it’s best to cover any bare skin.

cheetah and wildebeest

Don’t wear bright colours or camouflage

Bright colours will make wildlife wary and they won’t hang around for your perfect photo. Yes, Maasai tribesmen wear bright colours – but they are happy for wildlife to stay away from their herds… Blend in like your safari guides, with nature’s colours – khaki, beige, brown, and green. Yes I know, they’re not ‘your colours’… Just buy cheap t-shirts and trousers and gift them to your guide or camp crew at the end of your safari if you’re never likely to wear them again. Then again, if you’re like many of my guests and that other ‘Africa bug’ gets you, you might want to keep them for your next safari! 

Avoid camouflage clothing – in some African countries it is illegal and reserved for military personnel only.

giraffe herd Kenya, what not to wear on safari

White is not a great safari colour either

You’ll be game-viewing, often in open safari vehicles, on dusty unsealed roads and white clothes will get dirty very quickly.  And, if you are planning on doing any guided walks (highly recommended to learn about the ‘small 5’, traditional uses of plants and local culture), your white t-shirt will alert wildlife from a great distance to your presence. You want to sneak up on them, not frighten them off. Muted colours are best. 

leopard Kenya

Avoid bare legs and tank tops 

Bare skin is an invitation for insect bites and sunburn. You’ll be near the equator and the sun is very intense. You may find shorts and t-shirts most comfortable in the heat of the day, but have a long-sleeved shirt to cover up if the sun gets too fierce or if there are insects around, and long trousers with zip-off legs are ideal. Layers are the way to go!

guided walk lower zambezi zambia

Don’t wear a baseball cap

A baseball cap only protects your face but leaves your ears and neck exposed to the sun. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat will offer the best sun protection. A light fabric hat will fold down flat and take up no room in your luggage.

rhino tracking Zambia

My last ‘what not to wear on safari’ tip: leave your jeans at home

I know you love your jeans but they are far from ideal on safari. Even in the winter months, which is peak safari season, African days are very warm and you’ll be uncomfortable in jeans. Most safari camps offer a laundry service and light safari clothing will dry in a few hours but heavy jeans can take a couple of days to dry. Jeans are also bulky and heavy in your luggage, important when your luggage weight is very restricted on flights between camps. Two pairs of light safari trousers are much more practical.

canoeing with elephants zambia

Need help planning your African Safari?

Unlike the big travel companies we don’t sell the world – we specialise in Africa only. We’re passionate about this amazing continent and we’d love to share that passion with you! We know the hidden gems, away from the crowds and close to the incredible wildlife. Take a look at our upcoming safaris and if you need help finding the right one for you, get in touch and we’ll help you plan your dream safari!