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Your Ultimate Guide to Safari Attire in Africa’s Desert, Jungle, or Savanna

Are you preparing for an unforgettable African safari but feeling uncertain about what to wear? Fear not! I’m your go-to guru for all things safari and I’m here to prepare you for the unique weather conditions and terrain you’ll encounter. The right clothing can make or break your trip, so it’s essential to pack wisely.

Lion being stalked by tour vehicle with teen riding shotgun at Sabi Sands Game Reserve - taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Nikon 80-400 VR II lens

Join me as I explore the desert, jungle, and savanna, and provide you with detailed insights and practical tips to ensure you’re both comfortable and stylish on your African adventure.

The African Desert SafarišŸŒµ

If you are craving the stark, dramatic landscapes of a desert safari, here are some countries that offer such experiences:

  1. Namibia: This is the go-to for desert safaris. The Namib Desert, home to the iconic Sossusvlei dunes, offers a surreal, Mars-like landscape. It’s a photographer’s dream!
  2. Botswana: The Kalahari Desert covers a significant portion of Botswana, offering a unique desert safari experience, especially in the dry season.
  3. South Africa: The Karoo and Kalahari regions offer a desert-like environment, though not as extreme as Namibia’s landscapes.
  4. Kenya: Northern Kenya has arid regions like the Chalbi Desert, but these are less commonly included in typical safari itineraries.
  5. Ethiopia: The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest, lowest, and driest places on Earth, offering a desert-like experience that’s out of this world.
  6. Zimbabwe: While not a desert in the strictest sense, regions like Hwange National Park can offer a semi-arid safari experience.

Why it matters what you wear:

The desert presents unique challenges with its extreme weather conditionsā€”scorching hot days and chilly nights. Dressing appropriately will help you stay comfortable and safe in this harsh environment.

The essentials:

Lightweight and breathable fabrics are key in the desert. Look for quick-dry clothing which also allows your skin to breathe and keep you cool. It’s also important to protect your skin from the sun, so pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Don’t forget:

In the desert, it’s important to stay hydrated. Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it often. You may also want to pack a scarf or bandana to protect your face and neck from the sun and sand.

Pro tips:

Pack a hydration pack or utility belt to keep your water and other essentials close at hand. You may also want to consider packing a sun umbrella to provide extra shade on hot days.


The African Jungle SafarišŸŒ“

When it comes to “jungle” safaris, the term generally refers to tropical rainforests rather than the actual savannas commonly associated with African safaris. Here are regions within some of these countries that offer a more jungle-like experience:

  1. Uganda: Known for its lush landscapes, Uganda offers jungle safaris in places like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where you can go gorilla trekking.
  2. Madagascar: This island nation is more of a tropical paradise with rainforests, making it a jungle safari destination. Andasibe and other national parks offer a unique jungle experience.
  3. Ethiopia: While not a jungle in the traditional sense, the Simien Mountains offer a different kind of green, rugged terrain that’s rich in wildlife.
  4. Tanzania: The Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks offer jungle-like environments, primarily known for chimpanzee trekking.
  5. Zambia: Parts of Zambia, like the Lower Zambezi, offer lush landscapes that could be considered more jungle-like, especially during the green season.

Why it matters what you wear:

The jungle is a humid and unpredictable environment, so it’s important to dress in a way that will keep you comfortable and dry. You’ll also need to protect yourself from insects and other hazards.

The essentials:

Quick-dry clothing is a must in the jungle. Look for fabrics like polyester and nylon, which wick away moisture and dry quickly. You’ll also need a pair of waterproof boots to keep your feet dry in the rain and mud. And don’t forget to pack bug repellent!

Don’t forget:

Pack a rain poncho or jacket in case of unexpected showers. A wide-brimmed hat is also a good idea to protect you from the sun and rain.

Pro tips:

Pack a pair of zip-off pants or roll-up pants so you can convert them to shorts or capris if needed. Multi-use gear is also a good idea, such as a scarf that can be used as a head covering or a neck wrap.


The African Savanna SafarišŸŒ¾

The classic savanna safariā€”a timeless experience that never loses its charm! Here’s where you can find those iconic, sweeping grasslands:

  1. Kenya: The Maasai Mara is the epitome of a savanna safari, complete with the Great Migration if you time it right.
  2. Tanzania: The Serengeti is another iconic savanna landscape, and it’s part of the same ecosystem as the Maasai Mara.
  3. South Africa: Kruger National Park offers a mix of savanna, woodland, and bush, providing a well-rounded safari experience.
  4. Botswana: The Okavango Delta is a unique wetland in the middle of the Kalahari savanna, offering a different kind of savanna experience.
  5. Namibia: Etosha National Park has its own kind of savannaā€”more arid but still teeming with wildlife.
  6. Zimbabwe: Hwange National Park is primarily a mix of woodland and savanna, offering a classic safari experience.
  7. Zambia: South Luangwa National Park offers a mix of savanna and woodland, making for a diverse safari experience.
  8. Uganda: While known for its jungles, Uganda also has savanna regions like Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  9. Madagascar: While not a traditional savanna, the central highlands offer a unique kind of grassland experience.
  10. Ethiopia: The lower Omo Valley offers a type of savanna landscape, although it’s not the primary draw for most visitors to Ethiopia.

Why it matters what you wear:

The savanna is a diverse environment with a variety of weather conditions, so it’s important to pack clothes that are both versatile and comfortable. You’ll also need to dress in a way that won’t disturb the wildlife.

The essentials:

Layer your clothing so you can adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. Pack sturdy and breathable footwear, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Don’t forget:

Bring a pair of binoculars to enhance your wildlife viewing experience. And don’t forget to pack sunscreen!

Pro tips:

Pack a multi-pocket vest to store your essentials, such as sunscreen and binoculars. UV-protective clothing is also a good idea, as it offers an extra layer of protection from the sun’s harmful rays.


Colors for every occasion:

Choose neutral colors (shades of khaki, brown, beige/tan, and green) that won’t startle the animals.


What NOT to wear on an African safari, ever:

  • Avoid wearing white as it stands out more than any other color.
  • Avoid dark colors since they also stand out in the bush but these colors also attract tsetse flies.
  • Avoid patterns as these can startle the animals.
  • Avoid wearing camoflauge. In some countries, wearing camoflauge is a no-no; you could be mistaken for someone in the military, possibly targeted, detained, or fined.
  • Avoid heavy fabrics, as they can trap heat and make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Avoid wearing cotton clothing, as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry.
  • Avoid wearing open-toed shoes, as these can leave your feet exposed to insects, to the hot sand and rocks, and to other unthinkable hazards.
  • Avoid, ABSOLUTELY AVOID, wearing any perfume, or strongly-scented hairspray or body spray/wash. You’ll attract insects and repel the animals.


Let’s not forget that you may be celebrating a special day with dinner on your private patio or out in the bush under the stars. This outfit or this one are both practical and chic!

Private dining - What to wear on an African Safari on SelfishMe Travel blog postNo matter where you’re going on your African safari, the right clothing can make or break your adventure! By following these tips, you can pack the perfect wardrobe for your adventure.


Are you ready to take on the world but not sure where to start? Let SelfishMe Travel guide you on a selfishly-indulgent culinary and wildlife adventure! Contact us now and embark on a journey where you’ll experience the best of nature, culture, and cuisine. Let’s turn your dream safari into a reality! Click on the button below and download my “Top 10 African Safari Countries Ultimate Travel Guide”.









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Danielle Lewis

Danielle Lewis is a Travel Agent/Advisor who specializes in helping busy Women plan customized Culinary and Wildlife vacations worldwide. #GoSeeDoBe #SelfishMeTravel

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