The Complete Guide to What to Wear on A Safari in South Africa

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Many people visit South Africa for its wildlife, especially to see the Big 5 of wild animals. Doing an African safari is an experience of a lifetime for these people, and preparing help you enjoy this unique experience. Here you can learn more about what to wear on a safari in South Africa.

What consider when deciding what to wear on Safari in South Africa

There are two main factors to consider when you are going on a Safari in South Africa and need to plan what to wear:

Time of The Year and The Weather

The seasons in South Africa are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. When countries, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, have summer, it is Winter in South Africa. South Africa has summer when those countries have their winter season.

When you should visit South Africa depends on your specific travel needs. It is always useful to consider the seasons in your destination when planning a trip. South Africa’s summers are hot, and it may be humid depending on the province you are visiting.

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The nature reserves and wildlife areas may be green and lush during the summer. Many animals give birth during summer, and if you are lucky, you may spot one of these newborn wild animals. South African winters are usually mild and dry unless you visit Cape Town, where the rainy season occurs in Winter. It may be easier to spot wildlife during Winter, as the vegetation is dry and sparse compared to summer. Pleasant times to visit South Africa are autumn (fall) and spring when the weather is perfect for exploring this beautiful country!

Other Countries You May Also Visit and Their Weather

What to wear on safari in South Africa
Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

Suppose you plan a trip that includes South Africa and other African countries. In that case, it is essential to remember that Southern Africa’s climate differs slightly from these countries, especially those in Eastern Africa. Whereas countries in East Africa have hot and dry seasons, South Africa’s hot season may have cooler evenings and mornings. It also rains in South Africa’s warmer seasons. South Africa’s cooler seasons are also its dry season when other African countries have rain with cooler weather.

Your Baggage Allowance

When planning what to wear on Safari in South Africa, consider your baggage allowance. With international flights, airlines allow up to 30kgs in baggage. You may not get the same allowance when flying domestically within South Africa. For example, many domestic airlines charge extra for any checked luggage or only offer up to 23 kgs in checked luggage for free. For flights from Johannesburg to Kruger National park or Sun City, you may even fly with a small aircraft, and it could have a lower luggage allowance. Make sure what the luggage allowance is when planning your Safari outfits.

Don’t take too many Safari clothes with you. Instead, wash your clothing more often to avoid over-packing. You can find laundry facilities or day laundry service at most hotels, game reserves and national parks in South Africa.

What to Wear on Safari in South Africa and Other Things to Pack

Here you will find some information to help you decide what to pack on a game drive in South Africa. Take these items with you to make the most of your safari without worrying about what you’re wearing:

Lightweight, Airy Clothing in Neutral Colours

If you’re wondering what to wear on a game drive in South Africa, it is important to always take comfortable casual clothing. If your safari is summer, you will appreciate lightweight, airy clothing as the African sun can become scorching.

What Colours to Wear on Safari in South Africa

The best Safari clothing is lightweight items in neutral colours. You don’t want to wear black in summer. Instead, take clothing in neutral colours, such as beige, brown, khaki, light green or blue.

Avoid white clothing as it will quickly get dirty from the dust roads while on safari. Other colours to avoid include bright colours, such as red and yellow, since animals can spot you from a distance when you don’t blend into the bush environment. Also, avoid wearing dark colours, such as purple and black, which attract Tsetse flies when you’re on a game drive. Darker clothes also attract heat, which is not ideal on a hot summer’s day.

Types of Clothing to Take

The best way to plan your Safari outfits is to be practical. Take simple clothing items, such as lightweight, quick-dry t-shirts, long pants and a jacket for a warm layer for the cooler evenings and mornings. Take shirts with short and long sleeves to cater to the different times of the day.

Makkrom Men's Linen Long Sleeve Shirts 

Karlywindow Womens Linen Long Sleeve 

Wespornow Men's Quick Dry Lightweight Pants

Nonwe Women's Quick Drying Lightweight Pants

Men’s Active Quick Dry Crew Neck T Shirts

Women's Dry Fit Tech Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

You can consider bringing a beanie, scarf, and gloves if you are doing a Safari in Winter. Although you may have hot days, the mornings, late afternoons and evenings may be cool, and when you are sitting on the back of a moving Safari vehicle for a game drive, the breeze may be icy cold.

THE NORTH FACE Salty Dog Beanie - Unisex

Neff Daily Heather Beanie Hat for Men and Women

Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket

Columbia Women's Switchback Lined Long Jacket

OZERO Winter Thermal Gloves

Unisex scarf

Rain Jacket

If you’re visiting South Africa in summer, prepare for rainy weather by taking one or more rain jackets. Sometimes Safari vehicles have a close top, but wearing a waterproof jacket can help any rain entering from the sides of the vehicle.

Little Donkey Andy Women’s Waterproof Rain Jacket

Men's Waterproof Rain Jacket 

A fancier outfit for special dinners

If you’re planning a dinner at a lodge or hotel with formal dress codes, you need to pack a slightly fancier outfit than what you would wear during the day while on safari. This may include dress shoes or a lovely scarf.

Fox Racing Men's Troubled Mind Short Sleeve Woven Shirt

Mizzen + Main Men's Baron Chino Trim Fit Pants

levaca Women Summer Ruffle Loose Swing Casual Dress

Trary Ankle Strap and Metal Buckle Summer Flat Sandals for Women

Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes

Swimwear

If you’re doing a safari in summer, always take a swimsuit! You’ll be grateful for a dip in a pool to cool down.

You are most likely not only visiting South Africa for a Safari. Whether you visit South Africa in Winter or summer, you may want to swim in the warmer seas of the KwaZulu-Natal Province or in a heated swimming pool elsewhere. Most hotels and lodges provide pool towels, but it is good to take a quick-dry towel.

SUUKSESS Women Wrap Bikini

Speedo Women's Swimsuit One Piece

Speedo Women's Swimsuit One Piece

Sand Proof Microfiber Beach Towels

Sun Protection Gear 

Don’t underestimate the African sun. When you’re on safari, you may be in a Safari vehicle with a cover, but you may also go on one or more bush walks or spend a significant amount of your time outdoors in the pleasant South African weather. Be prepared by bringing sunscreen, sunglasses, a sun hat and lip balm. Make sure the hat offers UV protection and has a wide brim. Don’t take a baseball cap as they don’t protect the back of your neck or the sides of your face – they are not the best option for a safari in South Africa.

What Shoes to Wear on Safari in South Africa

You spend most of your time on your feet when travelling. Comfortable footwear is critical for you to enjoy your trip.

Although hiking shoes sound ideal for a Safari, they are often heavy and too warm for a summer safari. When visiting South Africa for a Safari, the best option for shoes is a pair of old runners or tennis shoes. Only bring shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring hiking shoes only if you plan a hike.

It is also good to have a pair of sandals or flip-flops for walking around inside your unit, by the pool or while showering. Flip-flops are also perfect when you go to the beach to protect your feet from the hot sand.

adidas Women's Grand Court Sneaker

New Balance Men's Casual Comfort Cross Trainer

Teva Women's Mush II Flip-Flop

Husmeu Men's Flip Flops

Water Bottle

Another essential thing to pack for a safari is a reusable water bottle. Take fresh water to keep hydrated, especially when visiting South Africa in summer. The good news is that South African tap water is safe to drink.

Insect Repellent

Protect yourself from mosquitos, tsetse flies and other insects by wearing insect repellent, but especially while on safari or at night.

A Day Bag

It is a great idea to have a small day bag with you when heading out on a safari. You can keep everything you need with you in this bag during the day. Good options include a small backpack or cross-body bag. You can keep your sunglasses, camera and water bottle in the bag.

Other Items to Pack for A Safari in South Africa

Now that you know what to wear on Safari in South Africa, here are some additional items to remember to pack:

  • Take a book with you. Some good book options for a trip to South Africa include Cry the beloved country or anything by Deon Meyer.
  • If you are not a reader, consider bringing a tablet and downloading a movie or games to keep busy.
  • You must always take a first aid kit for any trip. Be sure to include any prescription medications. You may need eye drops, plasters, painkillers, and allergy medicines. Depending on your safari’s location in South Africa, you may need to visit a travel clinic for malaria medication. 
  • Always remember your camera to capture the memories of your own experiences while on safari in South Africa. A good zoom lens will be helpful to capture animals at a distance. Also, bring portable chargers, powerbanks and extra memory cards.
  • A pair of binoculars is one of the best things you can pack for game viewing. Imagine seeing an animal in the distance up close with your binoculars!
  • Don’t forget your essential travel documents! Pack your flight tickets, passport, travel insurance, medical information and forms, emergency contact information. Make copies of these documents, either physically or digitally, and keep them in several places for safe-keeping.
  • A small flashlight may be helpful when you go on a night safari or when walking through your camp at night.
  • Try reusable travel-sized bottles for your shampoo and conditioner when packing toiletries for your trip.

Safari Options in South Africa

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South Africa offers several options for a Safari, including:

  • You can choose from various safari packages at the Kruger National Park. You can choose between being driven around in safari vehicles to see the broadest range of animals possible or night-time game drives. You can also do a walking Safari at Kruger National Park, involving a 3 to 4-hour trek through the African bush at a leisurely pace.
  • You can choose from various safari packages at the Kruger National Park. You can choose between being driven around in safari vehicles to see the broadest range of animals possible or night-time game drives. You can also do a walking Safari at Kruger National Park, involving a 3 to 4-hour trek through the African bush at a leisurely pace.
  • There are several safari options within a two-hour drive from Cape Town. Popular options include the Aquila Private Game Reserve, where adventurous families can explore the reserve on horseback, four-wheelers, from small aeroplanes, or helicopters. They offer traditional safaris as well.
  • You can view the Big 6 during a safari at the Addo Elephant Park while experiencing the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth.

Best Tour Options for A Safari in South Africa

You can choose from several safari tour options when visiting South Africa. Here are some of the best options:

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By Sunelle

Editor of the South Africa Travel Blog that focuses on travel to South Africa, including destinations, attractions, accommodation, food & drink.