What to wear on safari


Jun 25th, 2014, 06:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,859
"We're going in July/August, and I hadn't planned to bring capris, shorts, skorts, sleeveless tops, camis. Uh-oh."

Also....we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania in January and to Botswana in Nov/Dec. If your weather in July doesn't warrant the hot weather clothing....don't pack it. We found it would be cool in the early mornings and hot the rest of the day.

It also makes a difference if you will be doing drives in open vehicles or closed vehicles. A closed vehicle with 6 people inside is much warmer than an open one with only we two. What time do the drives depart? We were out before sunrise....much cooler. Often returning to camp after dark....again, it got cold in the open vehicle. In Tanzania we had to be back at camp BEFORE dark. Different places have different rules.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Dec-Mar are considered 'summer' months with cool evenings/morning; a bit cooler when on rim of Ngo as it's over 7,000'. Jul/Aug are late-Fall into 'winter' where daytime temps are often in the 70s and sunny; evenings as usual cooler than daytime and can be downright cold on Crater Rim. But most every lodge/camp will place hot water bottles beneath your bed linens to keep you warm (if you even need them... if not just remove them).

A scarf, knit hat and gloves are always packed (they fit inside shoes) and since none take up room, if I use, I do; if not, I don't. In closed vehicles these are rarely needed. And in open vehicles, they often have a Masai shukahs (blankets) to keep you warm if what you're wearing is insufficient.

I take pants, maybe cropped pants... no shorts, skorts or sleeveless; sometimes a cami to wear beneath as a layer, though more likely a thermal-T for early mornings or evenings (you can change in rear of vehicle if just 2/pax traveling) if/when temps change as it will.

Though I often go to beach at home and by end-summer have a bautiful tan, however when on the Equator tend to avoid the sun as it's just too brutal regardless use of an SPF which don't seem to work for me. In fact as I often sit in seat next to driver/guide, my left wrist does get real tan and on last trip that was the only place that did and it didn't fade out for almost 5/months. And I often place a towel on that left window so I don't burn/tan on that cheek.... glass or not, the sun manages to get thru. So apply SPF regardless which window you're closest to.

Though most lodge/camps now (after my years of complaining) have wash cloths, still many don't. Unbelievable as you're welcomed with a cool/iced washcloth and drink, why these are so hard to provide for guest use other times. So if you prefer these to hand-size towels, toss in a few of your old ones for personal use.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 03:56 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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I appreciate everyone's comments.
What made me nervous is that you are an experienced safari goer and I have never been--but my list barely resembles yours.
Never use a washcloth, so that's one thing I don't have to worry about.
We're skiers, so are accustomed to using high SPF sunscreen. I'm too afraid of skin cancer to ever consider a tan beautiful again.
Knit earband, thin gloves and my large but scrunches down to nothing scarf are ready to go.
There are 4 of us travelling together, so we get to (with our guide, of course) set the schedule. Unless we are driving from one location to another, our plan is for early morning and late afternoon game drives, with a break in between.
TC, you listed eight bottoms, and I only plan to bring four, which made me worry that I won't have enough.
I'll definitely have to bring more than one set of PJs, in case laundry takes overnight.
I'm bringing a microfleece and a rain jacket, a hat, closed shoes and trekking almost-sandals, watershoes (mainly for Zanzibar snorkeling, but could double as slippers). I had thought about the silk long undies I wear in the evenings when we ski, just in case--but changing into/out of them during the day will be a challenge, so I may re-think that.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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abram, one year in Bots I was so cold every morning. My jacket was warm enough but my legs were freezing. I ended up putting my regular pants on and then slipping my pajamas down inside the front of my pants. It was a little bulky but it helped a lot. Then when it was warmer I just pulled them out. Our guide (female) asked how the heck I got those pajamas off without undressing. So take your long undies.

I usually take 3 or 4 pants and no shorts. Yeah, it can get warm during the day but not that hot. I usually shower before dinner and wear the clothes I'll wear tomorrow.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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sundowner, that's exactly what DH does on ski trips. Showers after we get home from skiing, changes into clean shirt, sox, undies--which he then wears the next day.

I have one pair of convertible (zip off legs) pants, so I can wear those on warmer days.

I love the idea of sticking my long undies down the front of my pants--very clever.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 07:34 PM
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They may be saying no laundry because you are only there one full day. They may do laundry in the morning, hang to dry for the afternoon and iron the next morning. They may worry that if weather doesn't cooperate they won't have time to complete it before you are off to your next camp. I don't know that this is how they do it but that's my guess.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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I agree with the suggestions everyone has made, but I base my packing decisions on three things: safety, function AND style. The itinerary, possible weather conditions and type of vehicle/accommodations drive my packing list.
SAFETY: Because of the strong equatorial sun (winter or summer), and especially if I’m in an open vehicle I wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirt, long trousers and excellent sunglasses that offer proper UV protection. I like sun as much as the next person, but I cannot take hours per day x a 10-15 day safari. The shirt sleeves and long trousers help protect against insect bites (day or night). Even been known to wear half-finger gloves for warmth or sun protection on the back of my hands (almost always holding camera or binocs) so the hands take a beating.
Yes, I could lather up in sunscreen and insect repellant, but I hate harsh chemicals. If you don’t thoroughly remove traces of them from your hands, they will melt rubberized parts of your camera, and binocs.
I wear closed-toe shoes with a substantial sole to prevent insect bites/stings, stubbing my toe on a rock or pesky acacia thorn damage. They provide support for those spontaneous walkabouts or climb up to a vista point during for sundowners.
FUNCTION: I love cotton while on safari. It seems to breath more than synthetics, easier for the camp crew to wash and iron, doesn’t hold odors/stains like synthetics and doesn’t make that “swishy” sound when you are walking or moving about in the vehicle. Lastly, cotton or wool doesn’t melt on the skin if an ember from the camp fire drops on you.
STYLE: Yes, I care about how I look like on safari. My husband looks dashing in cargo pants and safari shirt plus a multi-pocketed vest, but it doesn’t do much for me. I prefer muted earth tones; a tailored shirt (sans all the pockets and epilates) and loose, straight legged trousers and a simple day bag, a collection of cotton scarves, and a ¾ coat for chilly weather. I call it practical, understated, stylish and comfortable. Takes me from city to plane to safari and back.
My 2 cents….
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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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Abram, My list is just a suggestion. You certainly do not have to pack all that. We were in the bush for nearly 4 weeks, so I may have brought along more than you might need. In Tanzania, it was very hot and I would change clothes three times a day. Start in the morning, something dry and clean for the afternoon drive and then something after clean-up for dinner. The morning drive clothes would always be sweaty by lunch time.

I pack for activities. I sit down with paper and "walk" through each day of a trip - what I will be doing and what I might need to wear. I factor in weather and add what is needed. I take things that can do double or triple duty. For instance, why take two pair of PJs, when a big tee will do nicely and double as a swim cover-up or an extra shirt? I do love the yoga pants for the long plane rides. They are so comfortable with no belts, buckles or metal. They don't wrinkle, so I can sleep in them and still look o.k. on the other end. Super cheap at Lands End. Bandannas are wonderful. They can be wet to cool you in the heat, used as a sun screen on the neck, tied around your face as protection from the wind, great for bad hair days. Love them.

I, too, take lightweight cotton or linen items to Africa. They feel good and they don't eat up too much of your luggage weight allowance. Love my Chaco shoes -- cool, comfortable and protective.

Again.....don't worry too much. Its going to be fine. You are going to fall in love with Africa and have many more chances to do it again.

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