Safari style has been aspirational long before Instagram or other social media began taking over our lives. Think classic Yves St. Laurent, Katharine Hepburn in the African Queen, and Meryl Streep in Out Of Africa and you’ll get the idea. However, safari style easier than ever to master, and if you’re planning an adventurous vacation to Africa (or Asia or South America), or similar challenging destinations, you’ll want to have the right gear. Here’s how to pack and dress for a safari in style.
Get your colors right
There’s a reason most classic safari clothes are tan or olive-hued, and that’s because they work under the hot midday sun and hide dust and dirt. Additionally, safari hats are a true classic! Note that while camo might seem like a solution, it’s illegal to wear camo prints in many of the nations that you’d visit for an African safari, so choose wisely (this may vary in other continents). However, bright colors also work. Keep in mind that the native people in many of these countries wear seriously bold shades!
Athletic But Not Athleisure
Sports bras are wonderful. You’ll be driving or hiking on rough terrain, so you want something keeps the bounce to a minimum. Things like Uniqlo Heatteach or Airism (or other performance fabrics) are options to consider, and go for warm things you can layer. Cargo-type vests with tons of pockets are useful as well, for your camera/phone/lip balm, sunscreen, etc., and it’s definitely possible to find one that you’ll want to wear after your travels.
No Need For Crazy Technical Gear
Although some of it is pretty cool, unless you’re camping for real (we’re not fans), you can probably get away with items you already own, especially if you’re somewhat outdoorsy already. So there is no need to spend $$$ on traditional safari gear unless you want to! Depending on your plans, you might not be walking as much as you think and will spend more time riding in your Jeep (most of the animals aren’t ones you’d want to encounter on foot). We recommend a comfy pair of hiking boots or even sneakers that have a little more bulk to them to protect your feet, plus bring flip flops for the showers.
Don’t Forget That You’ll Take & Be In Pictures
You might not think the bush is a place to be glamorous, and you’ll definitely be out of place if you do a blowout and wear false eyelashes every day! However, you’ll likely want to take lots of pictures to record your journey, so you probably want to beautify a little! A little lipstick goes a long way, along with some simple jewelry like inexpensive studs or hoops and great cheap sunglasses (aviators are an adventure travel classic). Get these at Amazon or Target, so you won’t be upset if you lose or break them. This kind of travel is not meant for wearing anything delicate. And why not throw a maxi-dress in your bag for a few photo opportunities?
Keep Your Luggage Light
Most of the jeeps and bush planes won’t allow hard-sided suitcases, and you’ll likely have a 33-35 pound weight limit- and they are strict! A lightweight duffel bag made by an outdoor brand is assuredly your best choice. Learn how to roll your clothes well so they don’t wrinkle.
You’ll likely be getting up super early in the morning so you can see the animals as the sun comes up (not to mention the beautiful landscapes!), with a break for a nap and lunch midday, and then an early evening or night safari. This varies depending on the part of the world you’re in, but holds pretty true for Southern and Western Africa.
Tented camps are common, especially in East Africa. And these are more glamping than camping! You’ll have real beds, a private bathroom, and more. If you’re staying in a tented camp, chances are you’ll have limited amounts of hot water, so time your showers accordingly. After all, these camps are pretty remote! Think 15-20 minutes at most for each tent. You’ll have Masai warrior guard to patrol the camps at night to keep you safe from the lions and other animals (seriously).
Last but not least, know that these guides have probably studied and learned about the area for their entire lives, and most were born in the region they specialize in. Listening to their stories can be one of the most fascinating parts of the trip!
How To Pack and Dress For a Safari: Shopping Guide
KUHL Brazen Jacket, Now $102.99
CASLON® Utility Vest, $79
Sunday Afternoons Havana Hat, now $27.02
Merrell Thermo Adventure Winter Boots, now $99.93
Patagonia Light Weight Black Hole Duffel, now $109
See more travel and style tips from Jacqueline Zenn including Travel To Zanzibar – In Style! and Traveling Without Fear: A Western Woman In A Muslim Country.
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Safari Photos: Jacqueline Zenn
Image Layout: Fountain Of 30