What to Wear on a Safari in South Africa | Packing & Clothing Guide

No matter where in the world you’re travelling to, one of the most exciting things about an adventure is packing. Whether that be packing an underwater case protector for your GoPro, or sourcing new hiking boots for trekking through the mountains for an epic hike.

One of the most common problems with packing is simply overpacking. But for a safari adventure, you don’t have much room for overpacking. Smaller planes and safari shuttles generally don’t cater to cases of luggage.

Renting a car, such as a hired Bidvest car, and driving to your safari destination is a fantastic way to ensure that you have all the space you need for your luggage. Plus, your vehicle can be rented straight from the airport.

So, are you wondering what to wear on a safari? Instead of packing too much and bringing along redundant items, this guide will share the exact need-to-knows about what you should be wearing on a safari adventure. Specifically, what to wear on a safari in South Africa.

South Africa doesn’t have a climate like most African countries; while it generally has fantastic weather, it can be somewhat unpredictable at times. Let’s take a look at some of the essential South African safari clothes.



What to Wear on the Safari in South Africa:

Things you wear on a safari are all about being as comfortable as possible. A lot of your time is spent marvelling at the animals. But you’ll also be spending time lounging at the campsite, or heading out for dinner at a lodge.


To keep things pleasant, this guide includes clothing tips for embarking on a safari adventure in South Africa.

Safari Clothes Colors

Did you know that grey and earthy tones aren’t just an aesthetic choice for clothing when it comes to safaris? Neutral tones and light clothing work best in a hot climate. Brown, khaki, and tan are great colour choices for your safari wardrobe. Plus these colours are great at handling dirt and dust.

On top of being light and comfortable in hot weather, the colour palette works with the environment. The point of a safari is to view nature in the most unobtrusive way possible. And this means trying not to stick out like a sore thumb. These earthy colours blend in with the environment and won’t scare the animals off.

In other African countries, wearing camouflage by a civilian is not permitted as it is seen as military clothing. But in South Africa, it has the association of hunting; which isn’t something you’re going to be doing during a safari.

Top tip: Refrain from bringing any white clothing. It picks up dirt easily and is highly visible to animals. Also, avoid blues and blacks if you are travelling in an area with Tsetse flies.



Layering Your African Safari Attire

Layering is an excellent trick for ensuring that you’re always wearing the correct attire. Many safari game drives take place in the early morning and carry through to midday, or late afternoon to early evening.

You’ll need to prepare for cold mornings which slowly get warmer and warmer. And hot afternoons that can get rather chilly, quickly. You should include at least one layer, even if you’re travelling in the summer months. You can always peel off the layers if you get too hot.   are great for this occasion.

Safari Outfits: Best Materials

Cotton is one of the most recommended materials for a safari adventure. It’s lightweight and breathable, so sweating and heat are less of an issue. Cotton works best for layering, whether that be your pants or long sleeve tops. If you’re worried about the cold, fleece jackets are extra snug and warm.

Cotton also outperforms artificial materials like polyamide.

For those looking to go all out in the clothing department, you can always spend the extra cash and invest in some UV-protective clothing. Depending on the weather, it can be worn over layers or on its own.



Shoe Packing for a South Africa Safari

Generally, a safari experience in South Africa doesn’t require any strenuous trekking through harsh landscapes. But that’s not to say that packing closed, sturdy shoes is a no-go – just think about all the little critters that can be lurking around the campsite.

Unless you plan on embarking on a walking safari, there’s no real need to buy high-performance hiking boots. If trainers are all you’ve got, they’ll be okay for simply hopping in a car for game drives.

As we mentioned earlier, packing light is key, and shoes take up a lot of space and weight. Packing cleverly can save you an uncomfortable time in the bush. Trail shoes are a great option for a safari; they’re lightweight, closed, grippy, and breathable.

Spiders, scorpions, and the rare chance of stepping on a snake are other reasons why closed shoes are a must.


South African Safari Packing List: What You’ll Be Wearing

Below you’ll find the most essential items to bring along during your time in the South African bush. No matter where in the country you are travelling to, these items are all part of an appropriate safari attire.

Long Sleeve Shirts and Trousers

While these items are great at keeping you warm, they’re also an essential part of repelling insects. No matter the season, you’re going to come across some pesky mosquitoes and flies during your safari.

Note: There is a relatively low threat of malaria in South Africa, and it is only mildly present in places like Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal. Long shirts and long pants might be appropriate here.

Lightweight Waterproof Jacket

In some of the northern parts of South Africa, it tends to rain in summer, particularly in the afternoons – when you’ll most likely be on a game drive.

Temperatures can vary greatly, and you might leave on a sunny morning and soon encounter rain. It’s always better to be over-prepared than underprepared during your drive as it’s an open-aired vehicle.


A Bandana

The heat in South Africa can be brutal, especially in January and February. A top tip for keeping yourself cool during your game drives is to wrap a wet bandana around your neck. During your game drive, you can always rewet it to keep cool.

A Wide-Brimmed Sun Hat

This is one of those items that you simply cannot forget during a safari in South Africa. A   allows your eyes and neck to be protected from the sun. Even the late afternoons can hold a scorching sun, which can affect your viewing during a game drive.

As well as a sunhat, don’t forget to pack along a high-UV protective sun cream to keep in your bag!


If you’ve ever considered investing in a good pair of sunglasses, now would be a good time. You’ll notice the difference straight away when you’re wearing quality sunglasses on a safari. They also prevent glares from obstructing your vision, which is particularly useful for animal spotting.

Whilst on your safari, you can use binoculars for better sightings. With quality glasses, your view from binoculars isn’t going to be compromised.


Bathing Suit

Yup, you’ll need to pack along a bathing suit if you’re keen on enjoying the pools that most of the luxury lodges in South Africa show off. If you’re lucky, your pool will be situated next to a watering pool which attracts the curious elllies. If not, you might notice that your pool is used as a bathing bath for the elephants.

Fleece Jacket

Unlike a rain jacket to protect you against rainfall, a fleece jacket is going to keep you nice and cosy. This will be the go-to item that you’ll bring along on every game drive. It’ll also come in handy when you perch yourself next to the boma to enjoy the fire while you look up at the twinkling stars.

Tips and Trick for What to Wear in South Africa During Your Safari

Before heading out of your magical safari in South Africa, keep these tips and tricks in mind.

  • Create a good number of outfits you can wear over an extended period: Pack along comfortable and versatile shirts, shorts, blister-proof socks, vests for chilly nights, and two or three pairs of long pants.
  • Since most camps offer a laundry service, packing light won’t be an issue. Remember to keep it minimalist with the essentials from these safari guide outfits.
  • Carrying your clothing items in a duffle bag saves you the hassle of lugging around a suitcase with wheels on sandy, uneven ground – allowing it to get dusty. It also saves on weight allowance!
  • If you shy away from the cold, a down-feather jacket is super lightweight, can be stored away easily, and is brilliant for the early morning and late evening game drives.


To Conclude: Safari Clothing Ideas and Essentials

And that concludes the ultimate guide for a safari trip in South Africa. While the climate is blessed with some of the best weather in the world, it has its days and can at times be unpredictable. Being prepared can save you from a wet game drive or chilly evening by the fire.

Remember to pack light, but pack along the absolute essentials. If you’re taking a small plane, take note of the luggage allowance to avoid a luggage disaster.