blue clothes on safari

Apr 30th, 2005, 07:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396
blue clothes on safari

Hi all, I'm having some trouble finding proper clothes for safari. I've been told that I shouldn't wear black, white, blue, and bright colors. Well, as someone who's a "winter" and has virtually nothing that's a neutral color, I'm loath to buy a bunch of kakhi/beige clothes that I'll look terrible in and never wear again. Plus this time of the year everything in the stores is bright spring colors.

So, the question for the group is what's wrong with blue? Supposedly it attracts some biting flies? But there's a huge number of shades of blue. Are the flies attracted to dark or light blue? navy, cobalt, turquoise, periwinkle, seafoam.....?

Help appreciated! 3 weeks and counting before we leave!

linjudy is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 10:03 PM
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There are several issues about colors, and a few of them depend on where you are going and what kind of trip you are on...
for example, in a closed vehicle in East Africa, I don't think it matters much. On an open land rover in Southern Africa, the colors that are unusual in the natural world attract the animals attention, in a negative way. all the colors you mentioned fall into this category. sometimes color may just spook animals so the vehicle can't get close to them, sometimes it is downright dangerous... If you are seated in a vehicle, pants don't matter much, but they do if you are walking. Policies differ by guides and camps. But why go to all the trouble of going on safari, then wear clothing that may make it hard to get close to animals? Kind of defeats the purpose.

In some places, even in vehicles, people are told to change or cover up (for example, a friend of mine on a drive at at UluSaba wore a white shirt and black pants-- she was told to change her shirt before a drive. When your vehicle is right next to a nervous elephant, you don't want to attract attention!! Rules definitely get stricter on walks, where attracting animals attention could be dangerous.

Blue is a color which seems to attract biting (tsetse) flies. In areas with these flies blue is so attractive, that they put out medium or bright blue traps for them. Very dark colors, like black & dark purples & browns & navy also attract them. Personally, I always appreciate it when their is another traveller on my vehicle wearing these very dark colors or blues, because all the flies seem to go to them! These flies can be really unpleasant.

You don't need a whole wardrobe...Depending on where you're going, and the time of year, you can satisfy the need for bush colors with
(1) a beige, dull green, lt brown windbreaker -- get a cheap one, or borrow one. Polarfleece in the same colors is also useful, but most won't block wind (it's not windy-- but when you are driving in an open vehicle it feels that way)
(2) a couple cheap tshirts in those colors-- if it's too cold for a tshirt, you'll be wearing your fleece or windbreaker anyway.
(3) make sure your hat is a neutral color-- very important, since this is always visible
Dont' worry about fashionable. Even at the poshest places, functional is the way to go. After all, you're in the bush!
Camping stores and outfitters like REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Campmor & Sierr a Trading Post (last 2 online or by catalog only) always have a good selection. STP has great prices, and Campmor always has good sales on basics.
And if you are never going to wear these colors again, the folks at your last camp would be very happy if you left them behind. But if this is your first safari, you may find that you're already planning your next you may well be needing your bush clothes again!
tashak is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 10:10 PM
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what a helpful reply Tashak!!! it looks like it took you some time. thanks!
Kelabel is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:13 AM
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Excellent reply from Tashak. I just want to add that small patches of bright colour are usually fine as this is seen in nature in flowers etc.

I didnt have any problem from bites when wearing black or navy blue at all, just pale and mid blues. And tsetse fly bites hurt!

You won't need to buy as much as you think because you won't need to take that much clothing - most camps have laundry and most travellers make frequent use of it. You won't need a change of clothes for evening unless you're going to somewhere really smart such as singita - in most places everyone just changed into a clean set of their regular day clothes for dinner, maybe adding a scarf round their neck etc.

Kavey is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:51 AM
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I have found it difficult to find these colors in women's clothing so I have been purchasing men's t-shirts etc.

I do not know about east africa but in southern africa they do laundry every day in the camps and so you only need 2 or 3 items of each. Also, I would try the REI outlet online. You may get some good buys.
mpkp is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Tsetse flies followed our vehicle rgardless of the colors we were wearing. You could actually watch them sprinting along, resting on the vehicle bak for a moment, then looking for a bite to eat. After we got back, I looked them up and found that they followed movement and dust clouds! Guess it is so they are attracted to the herds. They also seemed to laugh at insect repellent, ignore colors, and chomp on us with gusto! And yes, their bites hurt. Best defense was long sleeved shirts and hats to minimize chomping opportunities.

Regardless of the fly question, I think neutral colors are good to avoid standing out. Another advantage of buying Khaki safari clothes with long sleeves that roll up, pant legs that zip off, and material that does a great job of sun screening is that you will have a ready made excuse for going back on safari . . "Well I've got all these expensive clothes and it would be a shame to only wear them on one trip" . . .
Scout52 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 09:35 AM
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Thanks for all the advice! Sounds like it's more important to avoid light/medium blues. I spent 2 hours at REI yesterday and literally could not find anything that was both in the required colors and long sleeves. The closest thing I could manage is a green polar fleece in the lime/chartreuse color that you see everywhere these days. Hope that will be ok!

I did not think to look in the men's section (though I'm pretty small so I think this will be challenging). Will also take a look in husband's closet for possible raiding

linjudy is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 11:49 AM
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Hi Scout...yes, I've been in that vehicle!

I wonder where you encountered them...the flies are much much worse in Zambia than anywhere in Botswana, Namibia or South Africa. I guess I was relating my experience from Zambia-- if flies aren't so bad in other areas, perhaps it's not as important to avoid these colors.
The flies do follow buffalo herds, and I do think they see the vehicle as a big, rambling buffalo. But the hapless guy wearing the navy shirt seemed to attract many, many more flies than anyone else. I was behind him, and they kept landing on his shirt--whole herd of them. Yeah, they buzzed around us, and occasionally landed and bit, but he got far the worse of it.
When we were walking, and all wearing bush colors, the flies seemed to "favor" some people more than others. BTW, an acquaintance swears by B vitamin supplements --I wish I could remember which one, though he said that mixed B worked too. I haven't tried it, but it couldn't hurt, might help.
Hey Linjudy, perhaps you can borrow stuff from a friend who is a spring or autumn?... also if you are small enough, check the boys prices are always cheaper. I always get khaki & olive drab tshirts that way.

tashak is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 04:41 PM
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rei has a long sleeved shirt in green by royal robbins that I bought a couple of weeks ago. You might find it on their web site.

If you are too small for mens sizes, then try boys.
mpkp is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 06:26 PM
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Personally, I would refuse to share a vehicle with another guest who was not wearing the appropriate colors.

Even if the colors do nothing else than scare away the animals, the goal is to get as close as possible to the animals, with the exception of elephants where it is always best to keep a respectful distance.
Roccco is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 07:59 PM
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After enjoying three safaris and counting, I have seen every color of the rainbow sit in my vehicles and ride beside me on horseback. I've thought about it and I imagine most of the animals are so habituated to seeing vehicles and people that it really doesn't faze them too much. They have to deal with these huge range rovers belching diesel smoke...I'm just not sure the animals focus on someone's pink blouse. My preference is to dress in neutrals, but I have no control over other people. Just my opinion...
girlpolo33 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 08:42 PM
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I think this also depends on where you are...for example, the animals in South Africa are incredibly habituated to everything, so perhaps it isn't as big a deal there (though some guides seem to think otherwise). In Chobe, where the ellies feel very safe, they are relaxed and you can get really close. Maybe they don't care what you are wearing. I don't believe this is the same in other parts of Africa. Also, I've been in vehicles that have been charged by ellies several times (and remember, you don't know its a mock charge until they stop). Once I was sitting in the seat on top of a closed land rover in Namibia. I'm not sure if wearing bright pink would have affected that ellie's attention, but I'm glad I didn't test it.... I just wanted to fade into the roof of the vehicle...

We were also charged by a whole herd of ellies when a foolish guy decided he needed to stand up to stretch his legs. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that he was the one wearing non-safari colors (he was completely clueless). That was a good example of what can happen when people don't follow the guides instructions. These drives seem so safe that sometimes it is easy to forget that these are wild and unpredictable animals.

Maybe the guides are overly sensitive...but I'm not willing to test it. I think it would be dangerous and a shame if we started thinking about game drives like a safe trip through a Disney exhibit or a zoo.
And like Roccco, I don't like being in a vehicle with people who aren't sensitive to the "rules" of good safari behavior. And all this is magnified on walks. I'm emphatically not a safari-snob...and full safari-kit is not necessary and maybe even silly, but is it too much to ask that fellow travellers get just a couple pieces of clothing that fades into the environment and doesn't call attention to itself?
tashak is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 02:46 AM
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I'm with Tashak and Rocco here (and Kavey I know feels the same). Most all of the people I met on safari had put the same energy into their pre-safari research as we did. If they're spending thousands on the trip, it's not asking a lot to spend a little more at REI or another camping/sport store or even Target for some appropriate clothing. You make the animals happier, the guides and your fellow travelers happier when you make the effort to comply. The one person I remember who was wearing bright white pants was the same girl who tried to sneak two large bags onto the small transfer plane. The pilot made her leave one behind.
Clematis is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 05:52 AM
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Mission accomplished! The tip on trying the boy's department worked perfectly. I am now the owner of 3 boys' x-large beige/olive/khaki shirts. Perfect for safari, hideous for everything else

This is our first trip, in the works for a year. I certainly don't want to let my clothes get in the way of us getting as close to the animals as possible!
linjudy is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 07:12 AM
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You and me both. From another "winter" who has mostly black and red (my signature color!), I have appreciated everyone's suggestions. Tashak, your suggestion of Sierra Trading Post was fabulous! I just went online and ordered two shirts in light olive and tan and also some long underwear which I figure I will use for sleepwear. Hard to find toasty warm jammies this time of year! I think I am all set now for clothes. Now I just need to make sure that I don't exceed the weight limit and in 6 1/2 weeks we are gone!!!
jcasale is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 09:53 AM
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I had no problems wearing aqua/turquoise and navy blue, but out of all my clothes, the navy hid the dirt best of all.
April is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 03:17 PM
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Also, J. Crew has long and short sleeve t-shirts in a color they call "safari."
CarrieS is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 10:23 PM
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linjudy, good sense of humor, you made me laugh. Who knows, you might like yourself in tan! I just thought of something else for anyone reading. If you happened to buy a shirt in a fabric that isn't 100% cotton (some of the offerings in camping stores are part or all synthetics that dry quickly) let the manager know so they can warn housekeeping. We had one scorching incident and a friend had a big one on her back in the shape of an iron. Now there's a little winter black with your khaki.
Clematis is offline  
May 3rd, 2005, 04:35 AM
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Hi Everyone, My husband and I are leaving on May 30 for a two week birding/wildlife safari in Tanzania. I have been reading these responses with avid interest and am in a state of panic varying from mild to frenzied. What is the tsetse fly situation in Tanzania? I was seriously thinking of taking my navy blue sweatshirt, my navy blue fleece vest, and my navy blue rain jacket. Is this a really bad thing? My other clothes are basically birding tan in color. Also, we are going to spend 2 nights in Arusha, 3 nights in the Tarangire Safari Lodge, 2 nights at the Gibbs Farm, two nights at Spekebay Lodge on Lake Victoria, one night at the Serengeti Sopa Lodge, one night at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, and two nights at the Eunoto Retreat for Lake Manyara. Does anyone have a clue as to the temperature variations in these places in June? Any advice would be truly appreciated. Thank you so much. Judy
jandj is offline  
May 3rd, 2005, 04:51 AM
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June - Aug is actually "winter" in East Africa, so igure the temps will be mild during the days - 70s; the mornings and evenings/nights chilly to cold. At higher altitudes it'll be even colder. So layers are appropriate... removing as the day proceeds. And have warm sleepwear - pjs, sweats - you're not going to get steam heat, though you might find a hot water bottle under the covers of your bed.

Tsetse flies - they sting; whether any of these are the ones to cause "sleeping sickness" I don't know, but we were two in a vehicle (and driver) on one trip... driver in Navy, me in some color, probably black shorts and t-shirt and my friend also in some color. Well, she was the only one to get bitten and she was the one who had applied insect repellent. The tsetses simply ignored me and the driver. None of us were wearing perfume or any type (including unscented deodorant and body lotion)... so beats be. I sometimes wonder whether it's not an individual's body chemistry. Just travel prepared - use the repellent and hope for the best.

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