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.
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