What to wear on a safari featured image.

What to Pack for Safari? The Ultimate Safari Packing List

Introduction: 

Your first safari adventure is days away and you still don’t know what to pack or worse, you don’t know what you shouldn’t pack. 

Trust me, I’ve been there and I understand your feeling of anxiousness. 

I have since gone on several safari tours in Kenya and have accumulated other traveler’s advice on what to wear on a safari to provide you this ultimate safari packing list. Plus, you can get some other of the best insider travel tips to Kenya that I wish I had known before starting my safari adventure!

Let’s get into it! 

Safari Packing Tips:

What to wear on a safari. Safari packing list tips.
  • Pack earth neutral colors: Pack earth tone colors such as green, khaki, light brown, and tan. These colors allow you to blend in better with the natural environment, plus they hide dust and dirt better. And trust me, you will get dusty.

  • No Camouflage clothing: Most camouflage clothing is not recommended for travel in southern African countries and is completely illegal in other African countries since it is reserved for the military only. 

  • Don’t pack black or dark blues: Bugs and mosquitoes prefer dark (and extremely bright) color clothes because they easily absorb heat allowing mosquitoes to locate your warmer bodies to feed upon. So avoid mosquitoes and darker-colored clothes. Plus, dirt would be more noticeable on blue and black color clothes. 

  • Pack lightweight items that can easily be washed by hand: Your safari outfits will get easily dirty or dusty. So try to pack items that you can easily wash in the sink and hang up to dry for the day ahead. You can also take advantage of many hotels/ lodges laundry service (for an additional fee)

  • Expect to sweat (so pick outfits accordingly): Try to pack as many clothes that are lightweight fabric that absorbs moisture as quickly as possible. You don’t want your pictures to show sweat stains through your shirt! 

  • Pack something warm! The mornings and evenings can be surprisingly chilly, especially if you’re traveling during the winter months.

When I traveled to Kenya during July, it was considered winter time, and I had no idea until I was landing at the airport. So I did not pack a single jacket and was cold until the sun came out. So please be better than me, and know when is the best time to travel to Kenya, plus get a month-by-month temperature guide so you can dress for your safari adventure accordingly. 

  • Absolutely pack bug spray: This should be a no-brainer, but malaria is a very real thing. So opt for products with 25-30% DEET. They are effective against mosquitoes and help prevent malaria.

On one of my safari days, my friend did not wear bug spray and she got bitten by mosquitoes. Eventually, her bug bites swelled up into small bubbles on her skin that lasted for days. 

Ironically enough, she was a travel nurse and knew better. 

So please, take it from her and I: be careful and use the right precautions to protect yourself from insect bites.

What To Wear On A Safari?

For Women:

What to wear on a safari: for women
  • Tops:
    • 1 Hooded/ zipped up warm jacket
    • 1 Lightweight water-resistant rain jacket
    • Fleece zip-up jacket
    • 1 White button-down/tunic
    • 1-3 Tank top
    • 2-3 Breathable short sleeve T-shirt
    • 1-2 Safari Dresses/ jumpsuit:
      • Aim for the length to be at least mid-thigh to above knee length
  • Bottoms:
    • 1-2 Lightweight, water-resistant safari pants
    • 1 Convertible pants that zips into shorts
    • 1-2 Shorts
      • Aim for the length to be at least mid-thigh to above knee length
    • High-waisted leggings/ joggers
  • Undergarments:
    • Breathable, moisture-wicking bra
    • Sports-bra
    • Moisture-wicking underwear
  • Accessories:
    • Sunglasses with polarized lenses
    • Buff wrap to protect your face from dirt or to keep your hair out of your face
    • Blanket scarf or shawl to wrap yourself up on chilly mornings or evenings during the game drives. You can also use it to cover your shoulders in places with a strict dress code

Before my trip to Kenya, I personally wanted to go all out on my safari clothes so I could truly embody my inner safari girl. I wanted to look like Jane from Tarzan! While I had to buy a lot of new safari gear that I did not have, I encourage you to use whatever you currently have or go thrifting. 

Because do you really need to buy new underwear for a trip? (Unless you do, then no judgment!)

If you’re questioning “Is Kenya safe to travel to“, then let me assure you that it is. But be aware that most African countries are pretty conservative. So try to avoid completely bare shoulders or extremely revealing outfits. 

This was a rookie mistake that I made when traveling to Kenya, as I packed a mid-thigh dress. I was in the city of Nairobi (not on a safari tour), but I received a couple of comments and stares that made me feel annoyed at not packing something slightly longer. 

So dress comfortably to you that is also considerate of the culture. 

For Men:

What to wear on a safari for men
  • Tops:
    • 1-2 Long sleeve lightweight shirts
    • 1 Lightweight jacket/ sweatshirt
    • 1 Lightweight water-resistant jacket
    • 2-3 Breathable short sleeve shirt
    • 1-2 Moisture-wicking tank top
  • Bottoms:
    • Zip-off safari pants
    • Shorts
    • Water-resistant hiking pants
  • Undergarments:
    • Moisture-wicking boxers
  • Accessories:
    • Sunglasses with polarized lenses
    • Buff wrap to protect your face from dirt or to keep your hair out of your face

Non–binary/ Other:

All items below are optional and up to your desire and needs:

  • Tops:
    • 1-2 sleeve lightweight 
    • 1 Lightweight jacket
    • 1 Lightweight water-resistant rain jacket
    • 2-3 Breathable short sleeve t-shirt
    • 2-3 Breathable button long sleeve shirt
    • 2-3 Moisture-wicking tank top
  • Bottoms:
    • Zip-off safari pants
    • Water-resistant hiking pants
    • 1 Convertible pants that zips into shorts
    • 1-2 Shorts
      • Aim for the length to be at least mid-thigh to above knee length
    • Sports leggings/ joggers
  • Undergarments:
    • Moisture-wicking underwear 
    • Moisture-wicking bra/top
  • Accessories:
    • Sunglasses with polarized lenses
    • Buff wrap to protect your face from dirt or to keep your hair out of your face

Please be aware that in most African countries there are many anti-LGBTQ+ laws. While this is something to keep in mind, many African countries are safe for you to travel to. Especially, if you are traveling with one of these best tour groups for singles, you should have a safe and memorable trip! 

Safari Travel Essentials:

  • Lightweight backpack
  • Binoculars
  • Camera + equipment
  • Wide brimmed Hat (preferably with neck string)
  • Portable charger
  • Universal adapter
  • Hiking/ Active footwear
  • 20-30% insect repellent 
  • Permethrin-based spray (spray on clothes before packing)

These are some of the most essential items that you must have when on a safari (including items I could not live without). 

  • Lightweight backpack: That can carry all essentials items and is rain proof or has a rain shell that can easily attach onto the bag.

  • Binoculars: Choose compact, durable binoculars for wildlife viewing. I recommend 8×42 or 10×42 models for a balance of magnification and field of view.

  • Camera Equipment: A mirrorless camera with a telephoto lens (100-400mm range) is ideal for capturing wildlife from a distance. They offer quality images and are lighter than traditional DSLRs. Remember to bring your camera charger and a SMALL tripod (especially for game drives).
    • Your phone may also take stunning pictures, however, just be prepared to look like a noob taking out your iPhone next to someone with a seriously expensive camera taking professional pictures. 

  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat with a string is absolutely essential on a safari trip.
    • I personally liked the hats with the buttons on the sides, because they can serve as multiple different styles from safari wide brim to cowboy style. 

  • Portable Charger: With all the pictures that you’re going to be taking and posting on social media, you’re absolutely going to need a portable charger. Trust me, you do not want to be without your phone because you forgot your portable charger.
    • While some safari jeeps do have outlets in the vehicle to charge your phone, they may be limited or unavailable. 

  • Universal adapter: This is one of the many international travel essentials that is easily overlooked. Especially if you’re traveling abroad for the first time.
    • Africa is generally 3-prong round or square, like the UK

  • Bug Spray: Opt for products with 25-30% DEET. 

  • Permethrin-based spray: Spray this treatment into your clothes and hiking gear a couple of days before packing your items into your suitcase. Do not spray this product on any sensitive areas such as your undergarments.
    • You do not need to pack the permethrin spray with you on your safari trip. I absolutely love this product because I did not get one tic, mosquito, or bug bite on me during my entire safari adventure. I walked in the same field as other people who found ticks on them, and I never got even one! 

  • Hiking shoes/ active Footwear: Durable, comfortable hiking boots are a must for walking safaris. Also, try to pack footwear that you don’t mind getting dusty and has good ankle support! 

Health and Safety Essentials:

  • Vaccinations and Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Biodegradable body wipes (unscented):
  • Insect Repellent (25-30% DEET)
  • Water purification and water bottles

Vaccinations and Medications: The U.S Travel State Government advises being up to date with all your vaccines. You should also have proof of your yellow fever immunization (also called yellow book) or you may be denied entry in many African countries.

Also, consider obtaining anti-malaria medication and medication against travelers diarrhea (trust me, it’s a thing) 

Consult with a travel health specialist about vaccinations and anti-malarial medications specific to your itinerary.

First-Aid Kit: Pack essentials including antiseptics, band-aids, pain relievers, and antihistamines. Also, include rehydration salts for quick recovery from dehydration.

Sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply regularly, especially after sweating or swimming.

Biodegradable body wipes (unscented): After getting sweaty or dusty during game drives or safari hikes, you will thank yourself for packing this. 

Insect Repellent: I have mentioned packing bug spray several times now (and it’s because it’s that important).

Again, choose a DEET-based insect repellent (25-30% concentration) for effective protection against mosquitoes, especially during dusk and dawn when they are most active.

Water Purification: Consider packing a portable water filter or purification tablets, as safe drinking water is crucial to avoid stomach ailments.

Please note that in most countries in Africa, there is limited access to clean water. So while your safari guides should provide water bottles, it may be handy to have a water filtration on hand if needed. 

What Not To Pack On a Safari

  • Plastic bags
  • Drones 
  • Camouflage
  • Hair dryers or hair curlers
  • Plastic Bags: Kenya and many other African countries have a strict ban on plastic bags. Bringing them into the country can lead to fines. So remove all plastic packaging from your items and pack reusable items instead. This is also a great way to start traveling more sustainably. 
  • Drones: While popular for aerial photography, drones are restricted (especially in safari parks) and need special permits
  • No camouflage: 
  • Hair dryers or hair curlers: Most safari camps or lodges don’t support electricity for them. (But always double-check with your lodging)

How to Pack For A Safari– Tips:

  • Try to pack a soft luggage type: Soft duffle bags are preferred over hard suitcases due to space constraints in safari vehicles and small aircraft.
  • Bring a couple reusable bags: As mentioned, your clothes and shoes will naturally get dust or dirty. So pack 1-3 reusable bags so that you can organize your items into clean and dirty so your items don’t mix. 
  • Clothing Strategy: Go for items that can be worn in different combinations and suit varying weather conditions.
  • Don’t overpack: I promise you don’t need as many clothes as you may think. On my first safari, I realized half of the clothes I bought were completely unnecessary. Especially since so many safari clothes can be mixed and matched to create a whole new (and stylish) outfit. Plus with the additional luggage space, you have more space to buy awesome hand-crafted souvenirs. 

Conclusion: 

As you travel to your big safari adventure, I hope that you have found this safari packing list particularly useful and discover the same beauty for the African nature and wildlife as I have.

If you love dreaming of your next trip, but hate the planning process, then grab your free easy-to-use detailed guide to planning your trip. So it’s quick, easy, and hassle-free!

So you can enjoy more of your trip with less stress! 

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