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  • Writer's pictureChene Wales-Baillie

What to wear whilst on safari - a field guides perspective!

Over the years of working as a field guide, I have seen an array of different looks and outfits that our guests have worn on safari. From luminous ski jackets and bikinis, to the stereotypical “hiker” look. Some of which, you may have even imagined had just stepped out of a safari-chic editorial by vogue, and then there was everything else you could think of in between. Time after time, guests would be unhappy with what they have had to pack in their bags and after years of mulling it over, I believe it is time to give some advise from a guides perspective.

So, what is the deal with what to wear whilst on a safari anyway? One of the most commonly heard pieces of advise our guests were given, was that they can only wear neutral colours, no black and white and no bright colours. So let’s take a look into this colour myth…

Now, from a guiding stand point, this will vary depending on the activity you are doing as well as the country or habitat in which you are during your safari.

Ready for game drive at andBeyond Tengile River Lodge

Whilst on a safari vehicle, you are one with the vehicle, as you will hear and learn from your field guide upon his/her orientation. Animals in areas where vehicles are used for game viewing will likely have become tolerant toward those vehicles and tend to see it and the people inside as one object. The general rule is that if you stand up on the vehicle, you will break the shape and expose yourself as a human, no matter what clothing colour you may be wearing. Therefore in my opinion, whilst on a game drive, you should be able to wear whatever colour you feel comfortable in - that includes white! Which personally is one of my favourite colours to wear whilst on safari - nothing quite beats a soft white linen shirt on a hot day in the bush.

The minute your activity turns from being vehicle-based to being on foot, this all changes. Being on foot is a totally different experience to being on a vehicle. Here we rely more on our primitive instincts and do our best to tread lightly and blend in with our surroundings as best as possible. For these kinds of activities, closed footwear is usually a must, however that doesn't mean that you necessarily need a pair hiking boots for the occasion. When it comes to clothing, this would be the time to err on the neutral side of your clothing choices, as wearing solid black or white might make you stand out more to the eye of many a mammalian species.

There is also a lot of discussion around wether or not colours attract insects and if you should stay away from colours when it comes to packing your safari suitcase. From what I have experienced in South Africa, colour has no issues and in all honesty I don't feel that insects have been further attracted to people by the colour of their clothing. On the other hand, when visiting Tanzania, I had always been told not to wear black or blue clothing as the Tsetse fly would be attracted to it. It is difficult to comment on accuracy of the colour claims but what I can tell you, from my own experience, is that if you are in tsetse territory, you are very likely to be subjected to them regardless of what you wear.

So to break this all down as simply as possible, here are my top 5 tips when it comes to choosing your safari wardrobe:

1. Comfort is key! - no matter the colour or style you choose, make sure you are comfortable. At the end of the day, you are on holiday and you want to feel comfortable and at ease in what you wear.

2. Dress for the season - generally, temperatures can vary greatly from summer to winter, so it is important that the clothing you bring will suit the climate you will be experiencing.

3. Consideration for walking - if you think you may experience a safari on foot, it would be advisable to bring a comfortable pair of closed walking shoes and have at least one set of clothing that is neutral coloured.

4. Sun protection - a hat, sunglasses and if you have sensitive skin, a long sleeve shirt should all be on your packing list in order to protect you from Africa’s harsh sun. It would also be advisable to bring the sunscreen of your choice, however many lodges will have some on site for your use.

5. Dress up or dress down - a safari has room for all types of dress code and wether you wish to dazzle, or prefer to go with a more relaxed look, you won’t be out of place. Be you!

When it comes to choosing your safari wardrobe, colour needn’t be your determining factor. Rather consider the elements mentioned above and I am confident you will be alot happier with your safari suitcase.


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