| All of us probably know that there are safari costumes. We have seen them
in pictures and movies, and we associate certain styles and colours of clothes
with safaris. It's mainly khaki with an old-fashioned military touch, including
shoulder straps, breast pockets etc. There are even sun helmets, topees. |
you need such an outfit to go on a safari? No, you don't.
you and everyone else in your party bring a couple of bags, or bring large suitcases,
they won't fit into the luggage compartment of your vehicle. Most vehicles have
only a small or no roof rack (as most of the roof is used for a pop-up sunroof
or roof hatches), so excess luggage has to go inside the vehicle, stealing space
and comfort from you.
| Safari luggage and what to wear on safaris is mainly treated
elsewhere on Safari Patrol (see Luggage and Luggage
list for safaris), but I thought it a good idea to expand on this topic. Many
safari-goers are first-timers, have no previous experience from this kind of activity
and don't know exactly what to expect from weather, environment and surroundings.
General on luggage
There is a point in limiting the amount of
luggage, including clothes, that you bring. Mainly: Most safari vehicles used
in East Africa have limited space for luggage.
Safari guide Henrik Hult on
dressing for safaris
You have another reason to travel light if you travel
part or all of your safari route by air. Many safari flights in East Africa have
a 15 kg/33 lb main luggage limit, compared to the 20 kg/44 lb or more allowed
on international flights. You may have to pay extra for excess luggage.
General on dress style
Most visitors to East Africa are normal tourists
and travel tourist fashion. The local tourist industry is used to this, and for
most safari-goers dressing up is never required. There are upmarket hotels, lodges
and tented camps, though, where you are expected to dress up, especially for dinner.
You may ask your travel agent or travel company about such requirements.
For most of us, some degree of dressing up for dinner is practical, even if not
required. Long trousers and long sleeves keep mosquitoes off your skin, and is
a clever part of your protection against malaria.
As to special safari
style clothes, safari costumes etc, they are never required. Pack the clothes
that you already have in your wardrobe at home, as long as they are practical
for safaris comfortable, layerable, not too dark (may attract tse-tse flies),
and not too light in colour (dust and dirt shows quickly).
Now, if you
like the idea of shopping for and wearing safari style clothes, there's nothing
stopping you. Khaki is actually a practical colour, as dirt and dust doesn't show
very well on it, and it's said to be the least attractive colour to tse-tes flies.
The pockets seen on many safari style garments may come in handy, for example
for cameras, sunglasses etc. A safari vest may be a poor choice, though, unless
you really need all those pockets. The vest means another layer, which may turn
out too warm for you, especially when spending long hot days in a car seat.
East Africa is in the tropics, so you may face temperatures
exceeding 30ºC/85ºF. This is not the full story, though. Many of the
safari parks (including prime parks such as Serengeti
and Masai Mara) are situated at some altitude, which
means cool nights and early mornings. Some places are even higher, such as the
rim (where the lodges are) of the Ngorongoro Crater,
and may be not only cold at night but also windy. Overcast and especially rainy
days mean lower temperatures.
So in addition to your light clothes suitable
for the tropical heat, you need garments that can keep you warm.
Sandals are practical, as they are airy and easy to take off and put
on, for example in the safari vehicle. They aren't very dressy, though, and some
restaurants (mainly in city hotels) expect you not to wear sandals. To keep your
feet clean, you may need to wash the sandals now and then make sure they
don't take ages to dry.
Light shoes, such as canvas shoes, may be an alternative,
or a complement, to sandals. Bring dressy shoes, including heels, only if you're
staying in hotels and lodges where you're expected to dress up for dinner.
You don't need boots unless you're going to spend part of your safari walking
Long-haul flights to Africa
Flights to East Africa
are long (eight hours or more from Europe), and you spend most of the time in
a narrow seat. Comfortable clothes are recommended, as is layering the
cabin temperature is unpredictable. You probably want to take a layer or two off
on arrival, as the temperature on the destination may be 2025ºC/6877ºF
at night and higher during the day.
Bring a pair of socks for the flight,
should the cabin be too cold for you.
Stays in city hotels
Many safari-goers spend at least one night in a hotel in a city like Nairobi,
Arusha or Dar es Salaam in connection with international flights. Your main activities
during such overnight stays typically include one or two meals, sleeping and relaxing,
for example by the pool.
Most of these hotels are tourist class and have
no dress code. If they do, it's usually about gents wearing long trousers for
dinner. I've seen signs saying sandals are not welcome in restaurants, but have
never seen it being implemented.
Suits or jackets may be seen in more
upmarket hotels, but are mainly worn by businessmen. You may of course wear one
if you prefer to dress that way, but they are not very practical garments to bring
on safaris, as they don't pack well in soft bags, for example.
in lodges and tented camps
Lodges and tented camps are hotels in the
bush, where much is centred on game viewing game drives, bush walks, balloon
safaris etc. Formal wear is uncommon. On the contrary, all sorts of leisurewear
may be seen.
Leisurewear is fine for breakfast and lunch. For dinner,
long trousers and long sleeves add to your malaria protection. If you prefer shorts
or a skirt, cover the exposed skin with a mosquito repellent.
Early morning game drives may
be quite cool, as the temperatures drop during the nights. Add the rush of wind
when driving with windows and roof hatches open, and you'll want to wear at least
a warm sweater or a windproof jacket for a second layer. I personally like to
wear a hoodie to protect my ears from the rush. By the time you return to your
lodge or camp for breakfast, it's warm enough to drop a layer or two.
Game drives during the day or late afternoon may be hot, and light dress is suitable.
Rainy or overcast days may require additional layers.
Sunny days mean
exposure to much sun, even if you spend most of the time in the shade there's
much reflection from the surroundings, not least when game driving across grassy
savannas. Sunburn on arms in not uncommon even though most of you is shaded
by the sunroof during game drives, arms holding on to the vehicle to keep your
balance may get much exposure to the sun. Long sleeves may be needed in addition
If there are bush walks in your itinerary,
you're going to venture out of the shade and into the terrain. Long trousers help
you fight thickets and ticks. A hat protecting you from the sun is necessary.
The grounds you'll walk may be uneven or stony, and a pair of good walking
boots are a good help (as long as they are broken in don't bring new boots).
If you don't want to carry boots in your luggage, you may do single day-tours
on foot in a pair of sneakers or even in sport sandals. You don't get the same
stability and protection against thorns etc, though, and need to be more careful.
Bring the same clothes and shoes that you'd
bring to any beach holiday destination. Because of the mainly Muslim local population
on the coast, ladies should bring enough fabric to cover legs and shoulders when
venturing outside resort grounds.