What to Wear on a South African Safari Holiday?


3.5min read

Published 18 July 2014


This is a guest post from Monica @ The Travel Hack

If you would like to see some of the world’s most beautiful animals in their natural habitat and admire South Africa’s most stunning scenery then a safari is the holiday for you.

Never before have I been so enchanted and excited by nature. I saw lions snoozing just meters away, walked among zebras, watched rhinos gather around a watering hole for a drink and saw a family of elephants from the window of my hut.


If you’re planning a safari in South Africa I’m sure you’re looking forward to long, sunny days on game drives, spotting the Big Five and relaxing in the glorious surrounds of your lodge or safari camp. You’re dreaming of those hot days, beautiful sunsets and cozy evenings around the braai (the South African word for BBQ).

But with all those different activities as well as hot days and chilly nights, what are you going to pack?
Read on to find out…

Packing essentials for a safari in South Africa

Comfortable clothing
Keep in mind that the majority of your time will be spent in a safari jeep so you’ll need lose, comfortable clothing that you’re happy to sit in all day. You don’t necessarily need the traditional safari outfit with cream shorts and khaki shorts but it’s best to avoid jeans, short skirts or white clothes that will quickly show the dust.

Consider the temperatures throughout the whole day
You may have the opportunity to take a sunrise or sunset safari. If you have the chance I’d highly recommend this because many animals will be sleeping in a cool, shady spot during the day. Keep in mind that temperatures can plummet quickly within the national parks and you can go from boiling to freezing in less than an hour.

What colours?
Most people opt for neutral or khaki colours. This is so they don’t stand out too much during walks but this isn’t so necessary during drives. It’s best to avoid the blue clothing as this colour attracts tsetse flies.

I’d also avoid bright colours out of courtesy for your fellow passengers. Most people will be taking photos and it’s likely your back or arm will end up in a few in a few of their holiday snaps so try to avoid ruining the photo with football shirts or brightly coloured tops.

Sweat wicking materials
Temperatures are often above 30 degrees between November and February so even the most glamorous of travellers are going to get a little sweaty. Look for sweat wicking materials that will keep you feeling fresh during those long days on safari.

Long sleeves
Kruger National Park averages 8 hours of sunshine a day throughout the year and the other parks are very similar. While us Brits love to get a tan it’s important to cover up or you’ll be heading home like a beetroot. If you can’t face long sleeves in those temperatures pack a light sarong or cotton scarf to drape across yourself.


Comfortable shoes
It’s unlikely you’re going to need your hiking boots during your safari but you may have the chance to take a walk within a private game reserve. This is a great opportunity to get close to the less dangerous animals and track certain animals by their footprints.

A large hat
Whilst on safari you will spend the majority of your time in a 4x4 vehicle. Some vehicles will have a covered roof but many don’t so make sure your head, face and neck are covered to avoid sunstroke or burning.

A large, refillable water bottle
With these high temperatures you’re going to be drinking a lot. Help yourself by having a large water bottle with you at all times and help the planet by reducing the amount of plastic water bottles going to waste.

Not only to help you look like a movie star but to avoid squinting into the distance while you’re searching for animals. I’d opt for glasses with polarized lenses for a crystal clear view.


Ladies with long hair may consider packing a scarf to keep their hair from flying around in open-top vehicles. A light scarf is also handy at dusk when the mosquitos come out to play.

Insect repellent
Speaking of mosquitos, you’ll need plenty of bug spray. Some areas of South Africa have malaria so antimalarial medication may be needed too. Even when you’re careful, it’s likely you’ll get one or two pesky bites so pack some soothing cream for bites to reduce the itch. I’m a fan of Tiger Balm which numbs the skin and helps the bite heal faster.

Sun cream
Choose the highest factor you can and opt for brands that offer all-day protection. You will need to reapply but these offer the best protection from that intense sunshine.

Light jacket
Evenings on safari can be chilly with temperatures quickly dropping so pack a light jacket or jumper for after dark.


A small backpack
You will need a small day bag while you’re out on safari. Keep it as small as you can to save space in the safari vehicle.

A good camera
If you’re ever going to invest in a good camera, this is the time to do it. If you’d rather not fork out for a fancy DSLR with huge lenses, opt for a camera with the maximum zoom capacity you can find. You’re going to be seeing a lot of animals from a distance and your smartphone just won’t cut it when capturing these beauties.

Many safari guides will have binoculars you can borrow but trust me when I say you’ll want your own. You may see an animal for a fraction of a second before it notices your beady eyes and disappears. Don’t miss the moment and make sure you have your binoculars ready.


For a huge range of our latest South African holidays, visit the South African holidays page here

Bio: Monica is a travel blogger with a love for stylish adventures around the world. She blogs over on The Travel Hack about everything from weekend breaks, stylish hotels, exotic holidays and adventure travel. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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