One of the most challenging things when planning a safari is what to wear…how do I look cute on safari while still choosing practical clothing? I spent weeks researching what to wear and how to prepare, only to realize that looking cute on safari is no easy feat. It’s a challenge to balance comfort, practicality, and style, especially when you’re going on a rugged adventure in the wild. But fear not, fellow fashion-conscious travelers, because with the right tips and tricks, you can look chic AND be prepared on your next safari!
In this post, I’ll share my best advice on what to wear on safari for women and pass along plenty of cute outfit ideas for both day and night. Whether you’re planning a luxury safari or a more budget-friendly trip, these tips will help you pack the perfect safari wardrobe. So, let’s get started and make sure you’re ready to slay on your next safari adventure (while still being comfortable!)
This post may contain affiliate links.
1. What to Wear on Safari for Women: Packing List
I’ll give you a quick packing list on what to wear on safari for women and then give you plenty of tips and outfit inspiration below! Here are some essentials to include on your packing list:
- Lightweight Pants
- Long-sleeve tops (bonus points if they have UPF protection)
- Tanks/ T-shirts to wear under your long-sleeves
- Trail runners (or some kind of sturdy closed-toed shoe)
- Sun hat
- Accessories (bandana, scarf, hair scarf)
2. Choose Neutral Colors
When it comes to what to wear on safari for women, neutral colors are your best bet. Avoid bright colors, which can attract unwanted attention from animals and make it more difficult to blend in with your surroundings. Stick to earth tones like khaki, light grey, light blue, and olive green. The good news is these colors all hide dirt pretty well and safaris can get quite dusty. I include a ton of example outfits in my post for inspiration, so keep on scrolling!
I would definitely avoid bright blue and black, as these colors attract tsetse flies. Also avoid camouflage in some countries since it is designated for military use.
3. Pick Clothing Made of Breathable Fabric
When packing for a safari, it’s super important to prioritize comfort. The African sun can be intense, and the dust can be a lot to handle. Go for lightweight, breathable fabrics that will keep you cool and dry. Avoid anything too tight or restrictive, as you’ll want to be able to move easily in your clothes (and lounge in your safari vehicle). On some days, we spent 12 hours bouncing around on safari, so I was incredibly grateful for my comfy attire!
4. Footwear for Safari
While you may be spending most of your time in a vehicle during game drives, you’ll still need a sturdy and comfortable pair of shoes for walking around camp, any guided walks, and bathroom breaks during game drives. Trail runners are a great choice for safari because they offer excellent support, traction, and durability. The uneven ground, animal poo, and prickly bushes can make walking a challenge, so it’s important to have shoes that can handle the terrain. Plus, trail runners are relatively lightweight, making them a comfortable choice for long days in the bush. We mostly stayed in the vehicle, but even for quick bathroom breaks, I definitely preferred sturdy closed-toed shoes.
5. Bring a Hat & Sunglasses
Sun protection is crucial on a safari, and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are essential. Choose a hat with a wide brim that will protect your face and neck from the sun, and sunglasses with polarized lenses that will reduce glare and help you spot wildlife. When planning out what to wear on safari for women, both of these items are must-haves. Plus, how cute is this hat?
6. How to Look Cute on Safari
Who says you can’t look cute on safari? While comfort should be your top priority, there’s no reason you can’t add some style to your safari attire. Accessories are a great way to add some personality to your outfit. Bring a hair scarf or a pair of earrings to dress up a simple outfit in the evening.
For the daytime, try a scarf or a bandana. A scarf comes in handy keeping you warm on chilly mornings. Plus, bandanas are great for protecting your neck from the sun and keeping dirt out of your face during particularly dusty drives! Go for a lightweight and breathable fabric, and choose a neutral color or pattern that complements your outfits.
7. Consider Wearing a Sports Bra
Safari vehicles are incredibly bumpy, and the last thing you want is to be bouncing around in an unsupportive bra. Not only will a sports bra keep you comfortable on your off-road adventure, but it will also provide support during any walks or hikes you may take. Plus, if you’re in a hot climate, a sports bra made of moisture-wicking material can help keep you cool and dry. When considering what to wear on safari for women, this is an absolute must-have.
8. Dress in Layers
Temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day on a safari, so it’s important to dress in layers. Start with a lightweight base layer, such as a moisture-wicking tank top or t-shirt, and add a long-sleeved shirt on top. Bring a lightweight jacket or fleece for cooler mornings and evenings, and a hat and scarf for sun protection.
For me, it was much cooler than expected in the mornings, so I’d also recommend packing a beanie or something to keep your ears warm. Fortunately, this doesn’t take up much room in your luggage, and it keeps you nice and toasty!
On the other hand, it can get pretty warm during the day. If you feel the heat, you may want to invest in zip-off pants or pack a spare pair of shorts in your bag. However, depending on how bad the bugs are and if you are getting out of the vehicle and doing any walking, you may want to keep those long pants on all the time despite the heat. I only wore shorts a few times – mostly around camp and for short drives during the day when I knew we would be staying in the vehicle.
9. Pack a Swimsuit
Many safari lodges have pools, so it’s a good idea to pack a swimsuit. You’ll be able to cool off after a hot day on safari and relax in the pool. This is an absolute must-pack on your list of what to wear on safari for women (if you have a pool). If you don’t have a pool, you can probably take a miss on the swimsuit because trust me…you do not want to jump in any watering holes on the Serengeti. You never know where a family of angry hippos may be lurking beneath the surface!
10. Prepare for Rain
Even if you’re traveling during the dry season, it’s always a good idea to bring a rain jacket on safari. Weather can be unpredictable, and a sudden rain shower can leave you feeling pretty soggy. Plus, a rain jacket can also double as a windbreaker on cooler mornings or evenings. On some of the super chilly mornings, I definitely doubled up with my fleece and rain jacket just to cut down on the wind.
Pick a lightweight and packable rain jacket, so you can easily stow it in your backpack during game drives. Our safari vehicle had rain jackets available, but I’d recommend bringing one just in case. I actually ended up using the rain jacket much more than expected…the Serengeti had a surprising amount of downpours in September! A rain jacket definitely ranks high on my list for what to wear on safari for women.
11. What to Wear in the Evening
This was one of my biggest questions…do people dress up in the evening on safari? Do I need to bring a different wardrobe? I’m here to answer all of your burning questions on safari eveningwear. The answer? You can wear the exact same thing that you do during the day – though you may want to switch it out for a clean version! Since there are pretty strict baggage allowance requirements on bush planes, this was definitely a relief for me to hear. Deciding what to wear on safari for women is already difficult enough before trying to plan out eveningwear!
My recommendation? Throw on a clean outfit after safari that you can wear on your next day’s adventure. Switch up your footwear for sandals instead of hiking shoes. Bring one dress if you’d like to look pretty one evening, and bring a few accessories to mix it up. I brought a scarf, a pair of earrings, and a couple hair scarves to make myself feel a little more girly some of the evenings. The good news is – it is pretty chill and nobody is going to be judging what you’re wearing!
The one caveat I’d add is that if you are staying in a super high-end lodge, I’d check in and see if there are any requirements. The photo above is from a 5-star lodge, and you can clearly see that my version of “dressing for dinner” is pretty low-key.
12. What NOT to Wear on Safari
While jumpsuits may be on-trend and super cute, they’re not the best choice for a safari. Jumpsuits can be difficult to get in and out of quickly, which is a problem if you need to use the bathroom during a game drive. Imagine having to literally take off the majority of your clothing while standing behind a termite mound (the most common place to use the bathroom) on the Serengeti, and you’ll see why this is a very serious recommendation. Hard pass! Instead, opt for separates for maximum comfort and ease of movement.
Finally, remember that a safari is an adventure, so don’t be afraid to dress for the occasion. Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, and don’t be afraid to add a touch of style. After all, you never know what kind of epic photos you’ll be taking on your safari!
Have you been on safari and want to pass along some tips & tricks? Let me know what to wear on safari for women – I’m always looking for inspiration for my next adventure!
For some more travel inspiration, check out some of the posts below!
Tanzania: Kikuletwa Hot Springs: 14+ Things to Know Before You Go
Safari Photography Camera Settings: Best Camera Settings for Safari Photography
Safari Photography Tips: 14 Outstanding African Safari Photography Tips
Safari Tips for First-Timers: 20 Top Things to Know Before Going on Your First Safari
Tented Safari Camps: Top 13 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Tented Camps
Tanzania Itinerary: Tanzania 7 Day Itinerary