Guest article written by the Hills of Africa Marketing Director, Britt Urbach
Many first-time visitors to Africa aren’t quite sure how to dress when going on a game drive. Do I buy all khaki? Do I need a traditional safari hat? Are shorts ok or do I need pants? The bottom line is, you can pretty much wear whatever you feel comfortable in (there are some restrictions, though so make sure to see the bottom of this post where I discuss the don’ts in terms of safari attire).
See the picture above? That’s me on my African safari honeymoon and as you can see, I felt comfortable in a t-shirt with a fleece, some hiking pants, and a pair of TOMS shoes.
So to help answer your safari fashion questions, I’ve compiled a list of safari-wear do’s and don’ts. See below . . .
Do wear shorts OR pants – whatever you feel most comfortable in. You can wear anything from khakis to jeans and gym shorts to stretch pants – whatever you prefer! A few things to note though: Only wear shorts if you plan on going on a game drive. Walking safaris require long pants, tall socks, and closed toe shoes as you will be walking through the brush. Also make sure to check the forecast for the evening. Once the sun sets, it can get quite chilly outside! My favorite type of pants are the ones that you can zip off the bottom halves to make shorts. Here’s a pair that I love from Orvis.
Do wear a hat. This can be a baseball cap, traditional safari hat, or anything in between! Whatever you feel most comfortable in.
Do wear shoes you’re comfortable in. You don’t need massive hiking boots to go on a game drive. You’ll be in the car most of the time (occasionally hoping out for some cocktails and snacks in the bush!), so if you are most comfortable with slip on shoes (such as TOMS), sneakers, or sandals, that’s fine. Just a warning though: mosquitoes can be quite pesky at night, so if you plan on wearing sandals and / or shorts, make sure to spray your legs and feet with bug spray.
Do wear neutral colors, such as tan, brown, white, black, and light pastels.
Do wear a comfortable shirt and bring a fleece or jacket. Whether you want to wear a t-shirt, button down, sweater, or sweatshirt, the choice is up to you. Always bring an extra layer or two with you though since early morning game drives and afternoon game drives can be chilly when the sun is down. The temperatures can change dramatically from one hour to the next, so always be prepared. For example, on a recent trip to Marataba Lodge in the Marakele National Park, the days were in the 80s (Fahrenheit) and in the 50s in the early morning and at night, so layers were a must!
Now for the don’ts . . .
Don’t wear bright colors on safari. It is distracting to the animals and the fellow travelers on your game drive won’t be too happy when you scare off the wildlife!
Don’t wear camouflage safari clothing as it is illegal attire for civilians in many African countries.
Don’t wear heels or wedged shoes on your African safari tours. I’ve seen it before and it’s not pretty when these people fall off the 4X4s as they’re stepping down. The vehicles have steps to get up to the seats and these steps are slender and can be slippery. They’re also high up so it’s best to wear flat shoes. Besides, there’s no one to dress up for in the bush but the animals!