As I attempted to pack for my trip to Kenya a few years ago, I was STRESSED. I read every. single. article. available online, but I never really found one that gave specific enough suggestions for what to wear on safari—which is why, when I got back, I knew I obviously had to create my own guide with PLENTY of cute safari outfit ideas.
This post primarily focuses on what clothes to wear on safari for women, but I’ve also included a few photos of what my husband wore, just in case you need outfit ideas for men as well!
Below, I’ll give you specific examples about what clothes what to pack for a safari in the following categories:
– insect repellent wipes
– nighttime outfits
– carry-on luggage and duffel bags
– what to pack in the bag you take with you on your game drives
Also: if you haven’t read my secrets to surviving a long-haul flight and my suggestions for comfy travel outfits, I’d recommend checking it out before your trip!
Consider this the only guide you will ever need to pack for a safari. ENJOY!
Scroll to the bottom for safari outfit inspo based on the looks I wore on my own trip.
WHAT TO WEAR ON SAFARI:
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, lightweight lounge pants, breathable joggers, 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-up shirt or light sweater), and finally, top it with a jacket or puffer vest + scarf.
Madewell Denim Button-Up Shirt
Rails Gauze Button Down
Free People Daydream Button Down
I found this linen top on Amazon and it is PERFECT for a fashionable safari outfit—plus, I’d totally wear it again in real life.
I also LOOOOVE jumpsuits and would have totally brought some on my own trip if I had thought of it. They’re just so easy to throw on and they’re super comfortable. Find a few good picks below!
Just stumbled upon this chic AF jumpsuit and I’m in LOVE!
Abercrombie & Fitch Utility Jumpsuit
Monrow Crepe Jumpsuit
Treasure & Bond Utility Jumpsuit
This part is pretty simple—get yourself a cute field jacket or puffer vest that you’ll actually wear again.
J.Crew Quilted Field Jacket
J.Crew Lightweight Jacket
Bernardo Quilted Puffer Vest
J.Crew Downtown Field Jacket
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. (More deets on that in my Safari 101 masterpost!) 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 wore a heavier blanket scarf (similar to the below) over my shoulders in the mornings and late at night, and a lighter silk scarf by Cuyana wrapped around my neck during the day.
Treasure & Bond Knit Blanket Wrap
Madewell Bandana Scarf
This bandana scarf is IDEAL for safari — plus it’s under $40 and is a light color.
These deet wipes were a godsent. 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.
I’m a huge fan of Ray Ban aviators, but more recently I bought these $15 dupes on Amazon and I’ve been LIVING in them. If you’re the kind of person who constantly misplaces your sunglasses – I would highly, highly recommend.
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 this super moisturizing Briogeo shampoo and conditioner.
My husband 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.
This one from Madewell is PERFECT. Had I seen it before my trip, it’s definitely what I would have bought.
Set of 7 packing cubes, $21
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. (Another one of my top space-saving travel hacks? Use contact lens cases to store liquids like foundation and moisturizer. It frees up SO much room in your toiletry bag.)
Calpak and Stoney Clover both make great ones, or you can find them on places like Amazon (the ones I linked here are perfect and reasonably priced.)
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU ON GAME DRIVES
- Blanket scarf
- 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)
- Fanny pack (perfect for storing your must-haves)
- Jacket (for early in the morning and after the sun went down)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
SAFARI OUTFIT IDEAS:
Going on a beach vacation as well? Check out my Beach Vacation Packing List here.
Hope you found this helpful! Questions? Comments? Concerns? Drop a comment below or, as always, slide into my DMs.
mark lakinNovember 9, 2018 at 9:36 pm
Awesome list! Bravo 🙂
FatmaJanuary 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm
Hi, any recommendations on bag recommendations to bring game drives?
Lindsay SilbermanJanuary 23, 2020 at 9:22 pm
honestly I just brought a small tote! Usually you’ll be able to keep it in between your feet or there will be a place to store it in the jeep
melissaNovember 12, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Love! What is the brand of the floral scarf you had?
LauraAugust 31, 2022 at 5:06 pm
Would love to know too!
Melissa- did you find a similar one?
EricaDecember 26, 2022 at 6:56 pm
Loved this guide, going on our first safari and this was golden 😍