As I attempted to figure out what to wear on my recent safari, I was STRESSED. I read every. single. article. available online, but I never really found one that gave specific enough suggestions—which is why, when I got back, I knew I obviously had to create my own.
Below, I’ll give you specific examples about what you’ll need in the following categories:
– insect repellent wipes
– nighttime outfits
– what to pack in the bag you take with you on your game drives
Consider this the only guide you will ever need to pack for your upcoming safari. ENJOY!
[Scroll to the bottom for outfit inspo based on the looks I wore on my own trip.]
Most people will tell you to avoid navy blue or black clothing on safari, since dark colors attract tsetse flies (an insect native to tropical Africa.) You’re better off with neutrals, like green, khaki, white, or light blue—especially because it gets hot. I’d recommend cute khaki trousers (I bought a few pairs at H&M), lightweight lounge pants, light sweats, or even leggings (but remember to avoid black.) Also remember you’ll be sitting in whatever you wear for hours on end, so make sure you’re comfortable in whatever you choose.
A few good examples below, which you can click to shop:
One thing I read over and over again was the importance of layering. And it’s true: in the mornings and after sun down, the temperatures get fairly chilly, and you’ll want to be bundled up—but during the day, it gets oppressively hot. The best advice I can give you is to start with a base layer (like a t-shirt or tank top), then add a second layer (like a button down or light sweater), and finally, top it with a jacket or puffer vest + scarf.
A few examples of what I wore below, which you can click to shop:
I also LOOOOVE this jumpsuit and would have totally bought it for my own trip if I’d seen it:
This part is pretty simple—get yourself a cute field jacket or puffer vest that you’ll actually wear again.
Here are similar options to what I wore, which you can click to shop:
This will depend on the type of safari you’re doing, but in my experience, hard core hiking boots (which I initially thought I needed) would have been totally unnecessary. For the most part, you’ll be spending your game drives inside the vehicle and doing very little walking, so my advice is to wear whatever you’re most comfortable in.
Boots or high-top sneakers are great because they’ll cover your ankles, but I honestly saw one girl wearing sandals—and she was fine. (I wouldn’t wear sandals because of all the dirt/dust/insects, but you get the point.)
Most safaris have strict weight restrictions on baggage because of the size of the plane you take into the desert. (I’ll elaborate on that in my “safari masterpost” coming soon!) These duffels all fit way more than you’d expect and will meet the requirements.
WHAT TO WEAR AT NIGHT DURING SAFARI
This was one of the things I was most confused about. Do people dress up for dinner? Is it cold? What aesthetic should I be going for? The answer: pretty much anything goes. Sanctuary Olonana, where I stayed, is considered on the “fancier” end, but there definitely wasn’t a dress code. Some nights I wore a casual dress with a scarf, other nights I wore jeans and a blouse, and one night we decided to go straight to dinner from a drive, which meant I showed up in my safari clothes. I wouldn’t buy anything special to wear at night—just work with what you have.
Temperatures tend to fluctuate dramatically on safari, so layers—and scarves—are key. Plus, if you find yourself engulfed in a dust storm, you’ll be grateful to have something to cover your face. I’d recommend something warm for the morning, and a lighter alternative during the day and at night. I had this heavier scarf from H&M over my shoulders in the mornings and late at night, and this silk scarf by Cuyana wrapped around my neck during the day.
These deet wipes were a godsent—and they’re under $4. Super easy to toss into your bag, and unlike a large can of insect repellent, they barely took up any room. Bonus: they come in a resealable packet. These are the exact ones I bought, and I only got bit once.
I wouldn’t have survived without this genius brush-on sunscreen, which I kept in my bag during game-drives and re-applied constantly. Because most of your time is spent driving through dust and dirt, the idea of putting liquid sunscreen on felt kind of gross to me. This little brush was the perfection solution.
MOISTURIZING SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER
After a few days of being in the desert, my hair literally felt like straw. Luckily I’m a PSYCHO and anticipated that the arid climate would require a super hydrating shampoo and conditioner, so I packed the travel-sized version of R&Co’s Atlantis collection, which I found at Urban Outfitters.
Matt and I both wore our hats every single day. Having the sun beat down on you for hours can be a killer, plus, you KNOW how I feel about wrinkles. Don’t be a dummy. Bring a hat.
Space is often limited on the small charter flights to the Masai Mara and other Kenya safari destinations, which means that every inch counts. Packing cubes were a game changer for me. They not only keep your belongings neatly organized, but they also compress items to help maximize space. Away and Stoney Clover both make great ones, or you can find them on places like Overstock (which you can click to shop below.)
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU ON GAME DRIVES
- Hairbrush (the wind really does a number on your hair & you obviously want to look FRESH for pics)
- External battery & charging cord
- Deet wipes
- Bottle of water
- Powder sunscreen (to reapply during the day)
- Jacket (for early in the morning and after the sun went down)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
SAFARI OUTFIT INSPO: