An African safari is a bucket list trip for many but can present a range of logistical challenges—not the least of which is what to wear. Kitting out for the bush, after all, is a bit of a balancing act: you want to dress for the occasion, but you also don’t want to seem costume-y; you need to be prepared for the elements without sacrificing style; you need to pack light for those infamously crammed bush planes.
There are a few cardinal rules, which any safari expert will confirm, to which you should adhere. First, your color palette should blend into the scenery, so you don’t scare the animals into hiding (for that reason, you’ll also want to avoid literally loud clothing, like noisy nylon windbreakers). Think greens, browns, beiges and neutrals. Tsetse flies are attracted to black and bright blues, so leave those colors at home. White tends to get dusty from driving around on open-air safari vehicles all day. Just keep your colors and your fibers natural—cottons, linens, so forth—and you should be good.
The second major rule to consider, no matter where you’re going, is the weight of your luggage. Check with your safari company or travel agent for specific rules and regulations, but most camps require soft-sided luggage generally under thirty pounds so they can easily fit into bush planes. “The good news is that most camps offer a same-day laundry service, so you can literally wear the same thing every other day,” says celebrity stylist Sam Spector, who has been on a number of safaris. “When packing, if you keep everything within the same color story, that solves the problem of packing too many cumbersome shoes, because you can get away with bringing just one or two pairs that go with everything.”
The goal is to pack smarter, so everything goes with everything else. Here, we’ve gathered some core pieces that are a great launching point for building your safari wardrobe, which is ultimately a smart investment—because once you go on your first safari, you’re likely to book your second as soon as you get home.
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