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Planning a safari or overland tour through one of Africa’s incredible game parks? This is the best womens safari clothing for your trip. Read our complete guide to find out exactly what to wear on safari!
Women Safari Clothing
Table Of Contents
An African safari is one of the most exciting trips you can take as a traveler. Roughing it in the wilderness surrounded by the Big 5 is truly a thrilling experience. There are several things to keep in mind when you choose safari clothing for this type of adventure.
How should I dress for an African safari?
The focus of your safari attire should be on comfortable clothing in neutral colors and light fabrics. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing something on an overnight flight, don’t wear it here. Safari clothes for Africa should be relaxed, so you can enjoy the experience to the fullest.
Drive time on overland trips can vary anywhere from 6 to 12 hours each day, so comfort is key on long-haul journeys. The distances in Africa are massive.
Expect your clothing to be covered in dust, but don’t expect to have much time to do laundry. Your safari clothes should feature synthetic fabrics that are hard wearing, quick-dry, easy to wash, and won’t show dirt or dust.
What to Wear on Safari
When it comes to African safari clothing, womens travel brands tend to feature technical fabrics focusing primarily on khaki and olive colors.
Unless you’re planning to live in the bush or are taking a Gorilla trekking trip to the jungle, it’s likely that this type of clothing isn’t necessary for the average leisure trip to Africa.
The majority of Africa safari tours view animals within the confines of a vehicle, whether a giant overland truck or 4×4 car.
This means that the khaki safari shirt or safari pants that you purchased will tragically go to waste.
Avoid the head to toe khaki safari outfits with these realistic clothing tips:
- 4 sleeveless or short-sleeve tops
- 2 long-sleeve tops
- 1 dress or skirt
- 4 pants
- 1 shorts
- 1 windbreaker jacket
- 1 fleece or warm jacket
- 1 swimsuit
- 3 bras (sports bras are recommended)
- 3 socks
- 7-10 underwear
- 1 jacket
- 1 scarf
- 1 sunglasses
- 1 pair comfortable sneakers
- 1 pair flip-flops
Best Women Safari Clothing
These women’s safari clothes offer you a nice range of safari pants, tops, dresses, and jackets, whether you’re traveling overland from South Africa to Kenya (or vice versa) or are camping in the Serengeti.
Best Safari Shirts for Women
As you plan what to wear on safari, bring a variety of tops and include sleeveless tanks, short sleeve tees, and long sleeves you can layer.
The best safari shirts for the day time or warm weather are sleeveless or short sleeved breathable, moisture wicking tees in neutral colors.
For hot days or to layer underneath warm items if cold, add a couple of casual tees. These also will be beneficial for long travel days (more on this in the Pants section below).
Merino wool tops are some of the best safari shirts because they’re practical and can be re-worn without washing. This is particularly important on longer trips when you won’t have access to laundry for extended periods.
If you plan to hand wash, you’ll have to wait until you spend two nights or more in one location to allow time for clothes to dry. This is why quick-dry items are good as safari clothes for a trip like this.
While merino wool is more expensive, you can get away with bringing just a few tops and then re-wearing them every few days. This is key for packing light!
Learn more about how to hand wash while traveling!
If traveling in hot weather, you might prefer a sleeveless top such as the one shown above. Like the short sleeve tops, the ideal fabrics are from performance brands with quick dry 100% cotton, merino wool, or synthetics.
Merino wool Icebreaker tops like these have a higher price point but are excellent for safari trips because they’re practical and you can rewear them (for weeks) without washing.
If you like sleeveless tops but want something less body hugging, a sleeveless button down like the one shown above is versatile.
This particular style can be worn on safari days or dressed up when visiting the city. Pair it with a cute skirt, and now you have something to wear in the evenings, too.
For sunny days, bring one light but practical long sleeve to protect you from the sun. Since this is a piece you want to re-wear, choose a quick dry fabric so you can wash it but have it dry relatively quickly.
For something more traditional, the above quick dry top is breathable and has UV protection with convertible sleeves.
When choosing your safari clothing, opt for a medium to dark neutral, such as grey or khaki, as this is an item that is most likely to collect dust if you are using it as an outer layer.
Depending on the time of year and the region you’re going to in Africa, you may need to add extra-long sleeve tops to your safari wardrobe to layer at night.
When considering what to wear on a safari, make sure to bring at least one warm long-sleeve or thermal top and also a long-sleeve blouse you can use to cover you from the winter sun or wear in the cities.
To pack light, pack no more than 6-8 tops for safari!
Best Safari Pants for Women
Surprisingly, some of the best pants for safari are leggings. Specifically, for driving safari tours when you are NOT getting out of the vehicle or walking in the bush, leggings are a good choice.
When you’re actually on safari, you’re more than likely going to be inside of a vehicle to allow for the undisturbed observation of the wildlife in a natural setting. Walking safaris aren’t the norm, so check with your tour operator if you’ll have one.
Leggings are the perfect solution and an absolute must-have for this women’s safari packing list. They’re great for travel days! Find out what our readers voted as the best leggings for women! We love these leggings from Zella! (Also available in plus size.)
Choose a color that you can easily re-wear in between washes!
Leggings are the most comfortable, packable safari pants. Avoid thick fabrics that take too long to dry if hand-washing. While you can easily wear black leggings when you’re inside a vehicle, you may want a lighter color to wear outdoors by the campfire at night.
A good alternative to leggings are casual but chic joggers like this popular pair by Lululemon — much a loved brand by yogis and travelers alike, especially when it comes to their leggings.
The travel-friendly fabric means they’re easy to clean and de-wrinkle. With four-way stretch and a drawstring waist, you can wear them comfortably on the longest of overland safari rides.
When you first think about what to wear on African safari, you might imagine an outfit consisting of a khaki button down shirt and convertible trousers.
Generally speaking, convertible pants are an unnecessary item to add to your safari clothing wardrobe.
Modern yet functional travel pants like the Andrea Leggings by Anatomie are the way to go! Not only are they versatile but they’re also comfortable, pack light, dry quickly, and don’t stain easily – perfect for this type of trip!
As a plus, they have a stretchy pull up waist band that is comfortable when you’re sitting down for long periods of time. It’s also easy to remove for quick bathrooms stops on an overland trip.
They’re ideal for walking safari tours or trips that incorporate extensive time outdoors vs. inside a vehicle. Technical womens safari clothing is suggested for treks in the bush.
Always pack a pair of shorts. They’re casual and easy to wear on hot days. You may even want to consider a breezy long skirt or sarong that makes it easy to “pop a squat” on the side of the road without baring it all to your tour mates.
Don’t expect bathrooms along the long roads and stops are usually infrequent!
Can you wear jeans on safari?
The best women’s safari clothing isn’t necessarily technical travel gear. Jeans are a must, especially if you travel in winter. They’re not only practical, they’ll provide you warmth, they disguise dirt, and they’ll also give you a bit of style if you’re in a major city, such as Cape Town.
Just don’t hand wash your jeans. Denim is practical because you can re-wear it constantly without washing. This is something explained by denim designers, and it’s one of the main reasons modern travelers use jeans.
To pack light, pack no more than 5 pants for safari!
Also, bring a comfortable pair of pants you can wear around the campsite at night.
Best Safari Dresses
A dress may sound like the exact opposite of safari clothing. However, it’s always good to have at least one dress that you may want to use on a beach in Zanzibar or a nice dinner at Victoria Falls.
Choose a little black dress you can dress up for restaurants or a fun night out in the city. This one by Columbia features wicking, cooling, and sun protection fabric and is available to size 3XL.
When it’s hot, a loose and lightweight dress is also ideal for long overland trips. They’re actually more practical than pants, particularly when you stop on the side of the road alongside your fellow tour mates for a quick bathroom break in the bush!
Choose something versatile yet comfortable that you can also wear for the beach or dress up for dinners, too.
Alternatively, if you don’t like dresses or if you’re traveling when it’s cold, long tunic tops that cover your backside are helpful for roadside bathroom stops, too.
Wear it in the camp after a shower, on the beach over a bathing suit, loosely over your safari pants, or tuck it into shorts for a cute but casual safari outfit.
WARNING: WHEN PLANNING WHAT TO WEAR ON SAFARI, AVOID ROMPERS, ESPECIALLY ON AN OVERLAND TRIP FOR TRAVEL DAYS.
YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO PULL OFF YOUR ENTIRE ROMPER TO USE THE BATHROOM ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. NO.
For something as lightweight and comfy as a romper, opt for a strapless sundress like the one shown above. You can wear it on travel days as a dress during the day and layer it over your leggings if it’s cool outside.
Alternatively, wear it as a skirt paired with a cute top and dress it up with jewelry that you buy locally.
Remember, avoid choosing bright colors for safari clothing but you can wear them on travel days when you’re not on a game drive.
Check out these convertible travel dresses for maximum versatility!
Best Safari Clothing for Cold Weather
Layering your safari clothes is KEY – it can get very cold in Africa. Learn how to layer here. Regional climates vary greatly throughout the season, so be prepared for hot and cold temperatures. Always check the weather forecast before you go.
If you’re traveling in the cold season (May – August), consider bringing a set of merino wool thermals for women so you can stay warm and wear them up to two weeks (or more) without washing.
Pack one set of merino wool thermals for maximum warmth, especially if you’re camping in the winter!
Best Safari Jackets
As you’re preparing your safari clothing checklist, make sure you bring a good jacket. The roof and windows of some safari vehicles are open as you drive around the parks, and it can get quite chilly at dawn and for night drives.
Look for a good, quality jacket that can serve as a windbreaker as well. You’re sure to feel a chill in the air with an open vehicle first thing in the morning.
An african overland trips crossing various countries is one of the times when you need your travel fleece and rain jacket the most! Do not underestimate how cold it gets in Africa when choosing safari clothing for your trip.
Remember to choose neutral tones for your safari clothing, especially for items that are highly visible such as a jacket.
Trust me, if you’re head is hanging out of a vehicle at 5:30am, you’ll feel the crisp morning air and wish you had a warm jacket – it happened to me!
For a stylish option you can wear as part of your safari outfit, the Kenya jacket is chic and practical, too. It’s by Anatomie, voted by Forbes as the best luxury travel clothing brand.
Choose the grey, khaki, or olive green color for a jacket that’s easy to clean and won’t show dust easily.
Best Safari Shoes
Now that you’ve planned your safari clothing, it’s time to plan for your shoes. Suprisingly, this may be easier than you think.
If you’re only taking two pairs of shoes, choose a pair of sneakers and flip flops (for camps, shower, and beaches). The sneakers are something comfortable you can wear on the truck, for ocassional safari walks, and at the campsite at night if it’s cold.
If your itinerary includes walking safaris, you’ll need substantial sturdy footwear. For multi-day treks through the jungle, bring sturdy hiking boots. For the occasional day trip, regular all-terrain sneakers or hiking shoes will work.
Ideally, bring a pair of shoes that are waterproof and easy to clean if they get muddy or dirty.
Flip-flops may seem like a random item to add to this safari packing list. However, it’s nice to air out your toes if you’ve had them in sneakers all day, and they’re also convenient to wear in camp showers. And don’t forget the beach.
Best Safari Socks
Whether for safari boots or sneakers, bring moisture wicking socks. This is particularly important so you don’t have to bring that many pairs. Just as with the rest of the suggested safari clothing, merino wool is ideal so you can rewear socks without washing.
Several readers agreed that Kirkland’s merino wool socks are a great pick. One reader says, “I wash them in cold water and hang them to air dry, but they have held up really well and keep my feet warm, too.”
If you’re camping, bring socks like the ones shown above to keep you warm at night. Bring dark colors or prints that won’t show dust easily.
Best Bras and Underwear for Safari
Last but not least for your safari wear checklist, pack a good sports bra for the bumpy journey! Vehicles in Kenya and other countries may cover all terrains including deeply rutted roads and huge potholes.
Make your ride more tolerable by wearing a sports bra whenever you are being transported. Also, take some motion sickness meds beforehand if you are prone to car sickness.
Also, quick dry travel underwear helps you easily do laundry without having to wait ages for it to dry.
Because you may be moving locations every night, you won’t have much time to wash your safari clothing, so it’s best if you bring fast drying fabrics or clothing you can re-wear easily.
Important Tip: Most of the time, you’ll be popping a squat on the side of the road, so a female urinary device or even a flowy skirt might be helpful if you’re not crazy about the idea of flashing your goods. Don’t forget your antibacterial hand wipes!
Other Safari Gear
Read this post on what to pack for African safari tours to learn specific travel gear to bring for your trip!
Along with safari clothing, you’ll need a few accessories. Hats are a necessity, but they don’t have to be unattractive. Plus, they can help shield you from the sun or hide unwashed hair. You will want to keep your hair covered and pulled back in a ponytail or bun so it doesn’t get tangled in the wind and full of dirt from the road.
You will also want the shade protection from the sun as you will be very close to the equator. A bathing suit, scarf, and sunglasses are standard travel must-haves.
Here are a few hair accessories that might keep high maintenance hair on the down low.
Don’t be a target for unwanted attention. As you choose your safari clothing, make sure you don’t dress in a flashy manner. Avoid bringing expensive jewelry or designer handbags. Conceal the majority of your money and extra credit cards in this bra wallet
Use these anti-theft tips to protect your valuables.
The Dos and Don’ts of Safari Clothing Packing
What should you not wear on safari?
What you should and shouldn’t wear for an African safari is based on your trip type. Is it an overland trip through various countries or are you going on a short safari to Kruger Park as part of a longer trip?
If you’re going on a long trip, comfortable practical safari clothing is a priority while you can get away with wearing regular clothes on a three-day trip.
DO NOT WEAR A ROMPER ON SAFARI
If you’re on an overland safari trip, it’s common to pull over on the side of the road to use the bathroom (in public).
Do not wear a romper, because you’ll need to pull off your entire romper in public. While you can find a “discreet” spot in the bushes, it’s a little harder to conceal the top and bottom half of your body instead of just focusing on covering your backside.
What colors should you wear on safari?
As exciting as it is to experience nature in its rawest form, you don’t have to immerse yourself to the extent that your safari clothing completely blends in with the foliage and desert itself.
These are the best colors for safari wear:
- Olive green
Clothing colors should be inspired by nature as shown in the image above.
What color should you not wear on safari?
If you’ve been researching what to wear on safari, you’ve probably read that you should avoid bright colors. This is because you don’t want animals to see you. Stick to neutrals, but don’t bring white because your safari clothes will get very dirty if you’re camping.
Can you wear black on safari?
It’s not recommended to choose black safari clothing because it attracts mosquitoes. If you do, keep these clothing items to a minimum and opt for lightweight fabrics.
What are your tips on choosing the best womens safari clothing? Share and comment below!
For more Africa packing lists, please read:
- What to Pack for Safari: South Africa to Zimbabwe
- What to Pack for Africa: Safari and Beaches
- Africa Travel Packing Tips
- 10 Essential You Absolutely Need for Safari
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