Bushtracks Vice President and Co-Founder, Carolyn Tett, regularly advises travelers what to pack on an African safari. Her expertise is based on her own travels and assisting thousands of Bushtracks guests prepare for their trip of a lifetime. Below she offers her top three tips to help dress for success on your next safari, plus Bushtracks' safari packing list.
You can manage bag weight limits with a tried-and-true complimentary bag given to all Bushtracks guests.
1. Layer, Layer, LayerGreat advice often comes in a single word, repeated three times. For realtors, it’s “location, location, location.” For safari operators like Bushtracks, when asked how to pack for safari, I answer “layer, layer, layer.” Think about the typical day on safari. It begins early, with temperatures as low as 40 degrees, in an open-vehicle, where you will be grateful for lightweight underlayers to ward off the chill. As the sun rises, you may feel ready to swap your wool beanie for a wide-brimmed hat or Bushtracks baseball cap, and you may peel off a layer or two, but not past the long-sleeve, sunproof shirt which is protecting your skin from the bright African sun. In addition to thinking in terms of layers, the dust and wind of an open-vehicle are important considerations. Windbreakers are a must-have, and contact lens wearers may want to update their glasses and sunglasses prescriptions to avoid irritated eyes. By the end of the day, when you’re ready for dinner in camp, ladies may want to spruce up their safari-casual look with a stylish, and warm, scarf or wrap, but even most high-end camps are quite casual.
2. Khaki and Olive (but no Camo)
Neutral colors are the obvious, and right choice, on an African safari. There are smart reasons to dress in traditional safari colors. Neutral colors help you get up close to wildlife, particularly on a walking safari. Camouflage, associated with the military, is best avoided. Other colors you should steer clear of include: dark blue or black, which attract tsetse flies; and bright colors, which can startle animals. Although most of the safari camps we use offer laundry services, minimize the number of whites you bring, since white falls into the category of conspicuous colors to be avoided on a walking safari, and the dust stirred up by game drives, and a day outdoors, can get them grubby.
Keep your colors neutral, and don't forget your hat!
The Tett Family on Safari expertly wearing the suggested safari colors
3. Our Favorite Safari Outfitters
When you’re ready to start shopping for your safari wardrobe, remember that you’ll be packing light to comply with baggage weight limits, so choose wisely and well. REI is a great one-stop-shop for most of the clothing you will need. Look for tried and true brands like Patagonia and ExOfficio who specialize in comfortable, lightweight, fast-drying, layerable – and attractive -- clothes. Additionally, ExOfficio offers sun-protective tops and hats, as well as their BugsAway line of insect-repellent treated pants, tops and jackets. For our guests we offer the following safari packing list, based on 25 years of safari experience:
2 pair lightweight pants (consider one in the convertible style)
2 pair shorts
4 lightweight shirts
2 long-sleeved lightweight shirts
1 wool shirt
2 t- shirts
1 pair lightweight hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes
1 pair of Sandals, such as Tevas, or flip flops
1 pair evening shoes (women)
1 pair comfortable leather loafers/shoes (men)
1 warm, wind-proof jacket
1 lightweight, waterproof shell with hood
1 pair of warm gloves
1 knit or fleece cap which can be pulled down over ears
1 set waterproof rain gear
1 hat (for sun protection)
1 bathing suit
1 set of Pajamas
Subject to accommodation: Men: Lightweight sport coat and tie; Women: Dress or skirt and blouse
This is just a starting point, as there are toiletries and other travel accessories you will need to consider. When you are ready to go, we will supply you with a detailed packing checklist, and our expert safari planners can answer specific safari packing list questions. For a truly thorough list, read what an 11-time Bushtracks safari traveler packs.