What to Pack Series

What to Wear: On Safari

Posted by Bee Shapiro on September 21, 2012 at 11:59:23 AM EDT | Post a Comment

Fall on the savannah is just about as good as it gets for safari planning. The annual Great Migration, which spans across Kenya and into Tanzania during the fall to winter months, is prime viewing time for wildebeest and other herbivores like the gazelle and zebra, moving toward grasslands to prepare for birthing season. Here, we have the best picks for your African adventure.




Most safaris these days are very well-catered, and while that means you don't need the most technical of gear, a few smart choices will make your daytime adventures more comfortable. The fall months are a transition time with bright sunshine during the day with spots of cooler weather. Layering is your friend. Start with comfortable, stretchy jodphurs ($143) in khaki to blend in with any kicked-up dust—there are thousands of thundering wildebeest after all –tucked into comfortable, broken-in flat boots like these brown buckled pair ($585 by Fiorentini + Baker). From there, build up. Over a simple cotton layer, wear a wool coat with handy front pockets. This stylish belted version by Salvatore Ferragamo ($2,615), which will also do well in the city post-trip, is good for heading out on morning treks without a cumbersome bag. Stash a pair of good pair of binoculars ($94.95) and perhaps a patterned silk twill scarf ($290 by Givenchy) in the rich colors of the Serengeti, to use as a hair wrap or headband. Especially if you're going to be in an uncovered Jeep all day, sun protection is key. These Tory Burch leather covered aviators in a burnt orange ($165) and wide-brimmed hat ($34.99) will keep eyes and faces shielded.



Eco-lodges and semi-luxurious tented camps (think glamping, the East African edition) have been springing up with much success in the past decade, and as such, the nighttime safari scene is considerably dressed up. Particularly if you fall in the more conservative category of dress, you might want to try an exuberant ethnic print, or if you're more daring, print on print. Start with loose, breathable printed pants ($320 for this spicy paprika pattern by Sandro), which have also been popular on the runways. On top, keep with the relaxed and long silhouette with a floaty tunic. For a special night out, this Alexander Wang black wool tunic ($173.25) has a sexy, plunging neckline. Add a simple cream cardigan sweater, or go bold by adding a complementary print cardigan ($605). In keeping with the safari theme, try a leopard print wedge on feet ($109 by Nine West) and add local flair with dangly earrings ($20.99) made locally, in Kenya.




As with womenswear, guys should look for pockets when dressing for daytime activities. Safari jackets are good, but cargo pants ($25.99 by Gap) can do the job too. To secure, buckle on a rugged belt in green canvas ($12.99 at Urban Outfitters) and clip on this carabiner watch with LED light ($39.95) that will come in handy come sundown. On top, a white button-down, like this one by Levi's ($58), is good for stowing quick-access items. Comfortable footwear is essential. These desert boots by Clark's ($125) are a classic for a reason: they simple crepe-sole style grips and the natural leather will get better with age. If you need extra storage for water and other items like cameras, add this 15-inch rucksack by outdoor brand Keen ($84.95) to your carry-on.



Unless you're planning on going during the summer months (which in Kenya and Tanzania are from December to March), it's best to plan for varying temperatures come nightfall. A rain-repellent oilcloth vest will keep your core temperature toasty and fairly dry ($590 by RRL). For extra warmth, pair with a cashmere sweater underneath ($350 by Burberry Brit). On bottom, a good pair of jeans is a solid investment. Classic Levi's, like this 1954 reproduction from the company's Cone Denim, has a cool "scraped" finish ($350). Dinner hours are also good time to break in your second pair of boots while treading around camp ($159.99 by Timberland). Lastly, for flexibility, add a scarf, like this one by A Peace Treaty ($200) in 100% handwoven silk, which can ward off desert breezes both day and night.

What to Do

The Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO Heritage site, is home to 1.5 million hectares of savannah, which is comprised of marshes, woodlands, grasslands, and plains.

For those bent on seeing the best of the Great Migration, a private safari can follow the wildebeests as they move, or in case of last minute weather changes, adapt to new itineraries. Try Serengeti Under Canvas, situated in Serengeti National Park, and primed for October and November viewing. Rates start at $650, all-inclusive per night per person.

Those looking for a more classic experience, National Geographic offers Tanzania packages that are both educational and well-done (Note: the itinerary is a fairly rigid one with activities nearly every day.) If you're traveling with little ones, there is also a family-friendly version led by National Geographic expert Jeannette Hanby, who ran the Serengeti Lion Project with husband David Bygott.

Prefer to lounge around in luxury? Head to the Singita Faru Faru Lodge that boasts modern comforts like A/C, satellite television, and more. The rate, which starts from $850 per person per night, includes two game drives daily. If you get bored (not likely), you can always head to the Sasakwa Lodge nearby and owned by the same operators, which is curiously built in an Edwardian manor style. They offer yoga classes and an equestrian center.

Photo credits: Women: Top Left: Courtesy of Cabela's Inc.; Top Center: Courtesy of Tory Burch LLC; Center: Courtesy of Forzieri; Far Right: Courtesy of Matches Fashion; Bottom Right: Courtesy of REI; Bottom Left: Courtesy of Barneys New York; Far Left: Courtesy of STYLEBOP.com. Night: Top Left: Courtesy of STYLEBOP.com; Top Center: Courtesy of theOutnet.com; Top Right: Courtesy of NET-A-PORTER.COM; Bottom Right: Courtesy of Nine West; Bottom Left: Courtesy of Overstock.com. Men: Top Left: Courtesy of AEO Management Co.; Top Center: Courtesy of UrbanOutfitters.com; Right: Courtesy of Gap Inc.; Bottom Center: Courtesy of Levi Strauss & Co.; Left: Courtesy of Altrec.com, Inc.; Far Left: Courtesy of National Geographic Society. Men Night: Top Left: Courtesy of A Peace Treaty; Top Center: Courtesy of MRPORTER; Right: Courtesy of J.Crew; Bottom Center: Courtesy of ShoeMall; Bottom Left: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren Media LLC

Member Comments (7)  Post a Comment

  • nanabee on Jun 25, 14 at 05:25 PM

    ROFLMAO!!! Whew! I really love the leopard prints platform shoes. Just perfect.

  • quiltingmamma on Sep 27, 12 at 11:28 AM

    Spunkie, for Sopa, or any where, casual is standard form. Often it is a case of showering after a game drive and putting on tomorrow's clean clothes for a few hours. But, you could dress it up with a pair of ballet flats, or a nice shawl/scarf. Some take a nice piece of jewelry. I will admit to travelling with a skirt for dinner at lodges, only as a change to khakis. Take a broomstick skirt that is twisted and stuck in a corner of your bag. I also used a shawl, and mascara - the only time I wore make up of any kind. But please - not animal print. colour for night is good, but keep it to earth neutrals, if you can, for day time because of dust and dirt, and also some colours are more attractive to tse tse flies and insects than others.
    If travelling in hot weather, then layer with a tank top and long sleeve shirt for sun protection or cooler mornings. Zip pants if you tend to prefer shorts. No need for hiking boots unless serious walking safaris. Hat should have a strap. Simple and basic is best.
    You could consider buying second hand or using older clothing and leaving it behind for hotel staff.
    Trust me, whatever you wear will be better dressed than the locals, and few places are so pretentious that the clientele are going to spurn you if you aren't dressed to the nines.

  • bethie45 on Sep 26, 12 at 08:17 PM

    I can get the whole freaking trip for the price of the coat you're quoting up there. Nobody REAL spends money like that on a COAT.

  • bethie45 on Sep 26, 12 at 08:15 PM

    Are you people crazy? Why would you recommend pants for women that cost $143.00 and pants for men that cost $25.99? Boots for women that are $585.00 and boots for men at $125.00? I would NEVER pay that kind of money for clothing. I would pay the $25.99 for pants, and the $125.00 for boots, but you people are insane. Do you think women go on safari to lie around and look pretty? Morons.

  • Spunkie on Sep 26, 12 at 01:27 PM

    I was looking forward to some helpful advice as I am in Kenya and Tanzania next month. Thank you to quitingmamma for setting this straight. Now would someone else from Fodor's REALLY like to tell me what to wear - share the REAL pictures for the moderately priced trip. $2600 for a coat!!!!! You must be thinking this is April 1st. What is acceptable and practical at Serena type lodges at night considering the minimal amount of baggage allotment. Thank you for serious information for a common sense packer not a fashion plate.

  • LasVegasTravel on Sep 26, 12 at 12:41 PM

    Go Big or go home!

  • quiltingmamma on Sep 26, 12 at 09:58 AM

    With all due respect, have you ever been on safari? It is dusty, often dirty and just plain gritty experience - not a fashion run way at all. The binoculars are about the only practical piece of advise you have provided for the women. Men's wear is better, but the women would be better served looking at the men's suggestions.

    I have not done a South African safari where there is paved road - in which case, there might be a more fashion opportunity for clientele, but the Serengeti and Mara - Kenya and Tanzania parks, require much more practical dress options. In fact I find your women's day wear offensive to their culture. Revisiting a mode of dress that was a "bwana" white man superior time in their history just isn't being very attuned to the people of the countries.

    Hats with straps as one is often riding with their head out the roof of the jeep; khaki rather than beige; a flat slip on for jeep days so you can stand on the seat to see better out the roof; a shirt with roll up sleeves and collar for sun protection, wind and binocular strap chaff protection; cotton bandana type scarf for more uses than you can think.
    These countries have malaria and uneven paths. Night time requires long sleeves, long pants and socks. Those shoes would break an ankle sooner than they impressed any safari guest.
    I can only sincerely hope this was meant to be tongue in cheek.

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