What to pack for a safari is something many travellers and safari-goers agonise over.
The weight limits of small planes, the need to squeeze your bag into tight spaces and the changeable weather conditions can make it tricky to choose what to wear in Africa, let alone what to pack.
This safari packing list shares my favourite travel products and safari clothes to take on your next wildlife trip. And make sure to read on to the end to find your free downloadable packing checklist!
What to Pack: Safari Clothes
Long-sleeved shirts are considered safari staples for good reason. Not only do they protect you from harmful bug bites and sun rays, but they’ll also make sure you look the part!
Pick a slightly tailored style for a more flattering fit, and opt for neutral colours to help you blend in with the landscapes.
My favourite safari shirts for women:
- This Craghoppers safari shirt is made from a mosquito repellent material, and also keeps you cool thanks to the light, moisture-wicking design. The pockets are large enough to store your essentials when out on a game drive too. But if this one isn’t quite your style, Craghoppers has plenty of other options to suit your tastes.
- My favourite type of shirt to wear on safari, this Tentree button-up can be layered over t-shirts for extra warmth or simply on its own too. Being a less traditional option for safari, it’s ultra-stylish too!
- Cotswold Outdoor has plenty of options for safari shirts from well-known outdoor brands. This Jack Wolfskin khaki shirt is very flattering and fashionable enough to wear when you’re not on safari, while the Columbia version is ideal for hiking too.
T-shirts should appear on every packing list for a trip away, but especially a safari one! Not only can they be easily layered under shirts and over long-sleeved tops on cooler days and on their own in hot weather, but they can also be dressed up with a skirt or smart pair of trousers for candlelit dinners.
Opt for an airy t-shirt made from organic cotton and you’ll have a safari staple that doesn’t cost the earth.
My favourite t-shirts for women:
- As it’s made from a special mosquito repellent fabric, this Nosilife short-sleeved t-shirt is a great choice to wear on safari. Plus, it’s moisture-wicking too so you’ll stay comfortable even under the heat of the African sun.
- Tentree does the basics very well, and this t-shirt is no exception. Available in a range of colours and made from organic cotton, it’ll keep you looking and feeling great. What’s more, every item purchased from Tentree plants 10 trees in the areas that need it most, so you’ll be doing good too.
- Ayacucho’s basic t-shirt is in a flattering striped pattern. It’s also made from organic cotton to keep you cool and odour-free too.
Long-sleeved tops are versatile pieces of clothing that make layering really easy for those unpredictable weather days. As well as warmth in the early mornings and late nights, they also provide protection from the sun and biting insects when they’re most active.
Cotton tops are a great choice, as they’ll keep you cool and comfortable. I tend to go up a size for extra airiness.
My favourite long-sleeved tops for women:
- My stripy long-sleeve tops quickly became my favourite thing to wear on safari. I loved how light and baggy they are, keeping me cool on hot days but also covered on cold ones. The slouchy fit was also really flattering and kept me feeling stylish on game drives. Even better, this top is also made of mosquito repellent material to keep you safe when travelling.
- This essential long-sleeved t-shirt from Tentree is made from a mixture of organic cotton, recycled polyester and the tree fibre, Tencel. They call this mix their treeblend, which means you’ll be looking good while doing good too.
- This long-sleeved t-shirt by Icebreaker is made of a blend of Tencel tree-fibre and merino wool that boasts moisture-wicking and odour-resistant properties, as well as Cool-Lite technology, which helps regulate your temperature and keep you cool in warm climates. Perfect for a safari!
An unexpected essential in any safari packing list is a warm sweater or hoodie to keep you protected from the cold weather of early mornings and late nights.
My favourites for women:
- Tentree’s cotton crew sweater is a really flattering fit made with 100% organic cotton. It’s really soft and cosy too and, remember Tentree will plant 10 trees for every item purchased.
- If you want a light hoodie to take the edge off on a cold morning, look no further than the HeiQ Viroblock hooded jacket from Craghoppers. The anti-microbial coating keeps you protected from bacteria, mould and mildew, while the SolarShield fabric is equivalent to SPF40.
- This classic sweatshirt from Patagonia is made from organic cotton, using 82% less water and 12% less CO2 than traditional production methods. It’s a really comfy fit and is designed to keep you warm while out in the bush or around the campfire.
An absolute must if you want to rock safari guide chic, a pair of shorts makes a great addition to your packing pile. Not only can you store lots in the pockets, but you’ll look good doing so!
My favourite shorts for women:
- As with all Craghoppers Nosilife clothes, these navy shorts are designed to protect you from insect bites while keeping you comfortable and stylish out in the bush. Pair with a long sleeve shirt for ultimate protection.
- These high-waisted organic cotton shorts from Tentree make ideal safari wear. Their flattering fit and range of colours mean you won’t just want to buy one pair!
- Barbour makes great quality outdoor clothing, and these shorts are no exception. The comfortable cotton material has a hint of elastane for a slight stretch, making them wearable for everyday use as well as on safari.
You’ll need at least one pair of full-length trousers to wear as a staple on safari. By buying some that cover your ankles, you’ll be protected from biting insects and the sun, as well as any other creepy crawlies you might come across when on a walking safari.
My favourite trousers for women:
- These lightweight jogging bottoms were pretty much the only trousers I needed on safari. And also now I’m home for that matter! They are light and baggy enough to keep you cool in the African heat, but also warm enough that you wouldn’t need another layer underneath when it turns cold.
- Craghoppers’ Kiwi Pro trousers are the choice of many safari-goers and outdoorsy folk, and it’s easy to see why. They’re made incredibly well from recycled materials, and the straight leg gives a flattering fit when paired with walking shoes.
- These slouchy jogging bottoms from Patagonia are the ultimate in comfort. The stretchy waistband and drawstring tie will keep you cosy no matter what you wear them for, while the hemp and recycled polyester fabric make them an ethical choice too.
A good pair of leggings will keep you warm and comfortable when travelling on aeroplanes, but can also be paired with safari shirts and long-sleeved tops for a stylish look on a game drive.
My favourite leggings:
- If you’re travelling in winter, these Nosilife leggings are a great choice to keep you warm when out in the bush. I wore them underneath a long skirt in the evenings and on their own with a top during the day.
- Though designed primarily as activewear, these Tentree leggings are a great choice for when you want to combine comfort, style and sustainable practices. Now available in a range of colours, you’re sure to find some you love!
- These North Face leggings are a classic choice for wearing on safari as they’re breathable and lightweight. They’ll easily slip into your safari luggage!
Skirts & Dresses
Dresses & Jumpsuits
A shirt dress is the favourite piece of clothing for many influencers on safari. They’re stylish and comfortable, and they come in a huge range of colours and styles. Though you might be tempted by a black or navy blue shirt dress, nothing says safari quite like khaki!
Equally, jumpsuits are a great way to dress up on safari. You might have a candlelight dinner or sundowner where your standard safari wear just doesn’t cut it. Stay practical and stylish with a jumpsuit, but do remember to wear a vest underneath just in case you need a bush wee – they can be hard to get in and out of when relieving yourself behind a tree!
My favourite dresses and jumpsuits :
- You can’t get more safari classic than this Nosilife Savannah Dress for Craghoppers. The shirt dress is finished perfectly in a range of khaki colours, while the supplied belt adds a fashionable touch.
- The Cypress dress by Tentree has a flattering halterneck style, and an elasticated waistband for a slouchy, casual fit. It’s a great choice for safari as the Tencel fabric is sustainable, while the side pockets can keep your phone handy for those perfect shots!
- If you’re a jumpsuit fan, look no further than the Slater Jumpsuit from Tentree. Like the Cypress dress, it’s made from Tencel fabric, which is soft, sustainable and very lightweight to keep you cool in the hottest of locations. Just remember it can be tricky to take off if you need to answer the call of nature out in the bush!
- The Ayacucho Goa shirt dress is my ideal choice for safari as it’s made of a linen blend, making it breathable and really soft too – perfect for warmer days! The length is very flattering, while the longer sleeves will keep your arms protected from the sun too.
Perfect for evening meals when you want to look a little fancy, a skirt pairs perfectly with a plain t-shirt. Just remember to wear mosquito repellent or a pair of leggings underneath if you’re prone to bites.
My favourite skirts:
- The paper bag waist and mid-length fit on this Tentree skirt is incredibly flattering. Its Tencel fabric is made for warmer climates, while the elasticated waist is very comfortable no matter what you’re up to.
Depending on the season you’re travelling in, a raincoat can be absolutely essential. For example, the rainy season falls in the summer months in South Africa. This can make game drives and bush walks uncomfortable if you don’t take your waterproofs. It’s better to be prepared and take one with you!
Pack one made from light material to keep you cool, even in tropical downpours.
My favourite raincoats:
- This lightweight waterproof jacket is ideal for moderate to heavy downpours and is made from recycled materials to help you do good for the planet too.
- The Nimbus short rain jacket from Tentree is packed with features, from the pack away hood and plentiful pockets to the fully waterproof and recycled fabric.
If you only choose to pack one thing from my safari packing list, make sure it’s a fleece! If this is your first time going on safari, you’ll be shocked at how cold it can get in the early morning when you’re racing through the bush to reach a sighting. And after the sun goes down, a warm fleece is the perfect antidote to those chilly night drives after the sun goes down.
My favourite fleeces:
- The Stromer fleece jacket from Craghoppers is the perfect choice for a safari. It has a really flattering fit and kept me really warm and toasty, even on the coldest mornings in South Africa. Plus, it comes in a choice of beautiful colours, so there’s one for you no matter what your style.
- Jack Wolfskin is well-known for its outerwear, and with good reason. This classic fleece jacket is really well designed to keep you warm thanks to its hand-warming pockets and insulating fleece fabric. Ideal for any weather!
Remember it can be really chilly at night in Africa, so you’ll want a pair of pyjamas to stay toasty in bed. Choose jersey shorts and short-sleeved tops if you prefer, but long sleeves and bottoms will keep you snug and protect you from mosquitoes during the night.
- The destination tank is a comfortable sleeveless option if you prefer having your arms free during the night, while the long-sleeve version will keep you warm and toasty under the covers.
- Tentree – These jersey shorts are ideal for sleeping in. They are soft, and comfortable and the elasticated waistband means they’ll stay on all night. Though if you’re after longer bottoms, try the joggers.
Don’t forget your feet! Though you may spend most of your time on safari in a vehicle, drinking around a campfire or relaxing in your tent, you may be lucky enough to stay somewhere that allows bush walks. You’ll definitely want comfortable shoes for that!
My favourite shoes to wear on safari:
- You’ll know from my travel blog’s review of Allbirds that they’re my favourite shoes to wear in most circumstances, and that includes safari! The Wool Pipers will keep your feet toasty during cold mornings, without being too sweaty when it gets hot. But if you prefer a thinner, more airy and breathable fabric on your feet in hot climates, try the Tree Skippers.
- Merrell makes great walking shoes, and these Siren 3 sneaker-style shoes are perfect for safari. They’ll keep your feet protected from nasties on the ground, but are also really comfortable no matter what you choose to do in them.
Even though most safari holidays don’t include time at the beach, flip-flops are still a great idea to pack in your suitcase. If your lodge has an outdoor shower or swimming pool, flip-flops will make getting back to your room really comfortable.
My favourite flip-flops:
- These North Face flip-flops are a classic choice, but you can’t really go wrong!
A large, lightweight scarf has many uses on safari: place it over your knees on a game drive and it’s a blanket; wrap it around your waist over your swimsuit and it’s a sarong for the pool; use it to cover your shoulders as protection from the midday sun, or simply wear it as a scarf to protect from the biting cold before the sun comes up and after it goes down.
My favourite scarves for wearing on safari:
- This NosiBotanical shawl is large enough to use as a blanket, but also light enough to wear around your shoulders in the heat. The NosiBotanical technology keeps you protected from biting insects too, so it’s a great choice for your safari packing list.
- The Tentree Peaks blanket scarf, as its name suggests, is multifunctional as both a blanket and a scarf and the pattern is really stylish and perfect for safari too.
- The Bart’s Witzia scarf is the most traditional style scarf on this list, meaning it’s designed to keep your neck warm. This makes it a good choice for colder weather.
On really cold days, you’ll be so glad you packed your beanie hat! In fact, I was so cold the last time I was on safari in South Africa after leaving my beanie at home. Thankfully, the lodge had an onsite store so I could stock up. But don’t be like me – make sure you’re prepared in advance!
My favourite beanies:
- I love bobble hats, and this Craghoppers bobble hat is adorable. It’ll absolutely keep your ears and head warm in the cold, but you’ll look great at the same time!
- The Kurt beanie is a plain but very insulating choice. Available in a wide range of colours, it’ll provide an essential extra layer on cold mornings and evenings in the bush.
- The Rab Braid Beanie is the ultimate in winter hats. Not only is it stylish thanks to the braiding pattern on the outside, but the fleece lining will keep you really warm and toasty on even the coldest of days.
Another one of my essentials, a good baseball cap will both protect your head and shield your eyes from the sun when on safari. I wore mine every drive, without fail, and really felt the part each time I wore it.
- The Cork Icon Elevation hat is available in a range of safari colours and will protect your eyes and scalp from the sun in style.
- This North Face cap is made from recycled materials, making it a sustainable choice, and a good one too!
Another influencer essential, a fedora hat pairs perfectly with the shirt dress for those back-to-the-camera photo shoots.
- The Festival Hat is incredibly popular. Every time it came back into stock, it’s quickly snapped up, so make sure you’re speedy if you want one! Available in a great choice of colours, it’s made from sustainable fabrics and will complete your safari look perfectly.
- This Kiwi Ranger Hat is a traditional safari-style hat, made from recycled plastic bottles and finished with a water-resistant coating. Even better, it’s a NosiLife hat, meaning it’ll keep your head safe from insect bites too.
- This bucket hat has a wide rim to protect your eyes and face from the sun, while the chin strap will keep it firmly in place in windy weather.
I don’t tend to wear gloves on safari as I like to keep my hands ready for taking photos. However, if you know your hands get cold, gloves can be a good idea.
- The Montane Powerdry gloves for women are touch screen compatible, thanks to the ingenious fabric and design. Plus, they’re really lightweight but still keep your mitts warm on cold days.
- These North Face gloves are made from sustainable materials, and also have an e-tip feature, which means you’ll still be able to use your touchscreen phone while wearing them.
If you’re lucky enough to stay in a safari lodge with a swimming pool, you’ll want to have your swimwear on you!
- This Speedo bikini set features a flattering longline bikini top as well as a classic striped pattern. The swimsuit is incredibly quick-drying, which makes it a breeze to pack away in your luggage before your flight.
- This Briganha swimsuit is a one-piece design with a plunging neckline. The best part? The fabric is treated with Craghoppers’ Nosilife technology that is designed to protect you from insect bites while you swim. Perfect for an African safari!
Other Safari Packing Essentials
When not on a game drive, you’ll wish you had a good book with you to while away the hours. Lucky for you, I’ve shared all my favourite books to read on safari in another post, so read that next.
But if you’re after a sneak preview, here’s my top 3:
- A Year in the Wild – James Hendry: A tale of two brothers who are sent away to work at a safari lodge by their parents in hopes that it’ll teach them to get along. A wonderfully entertaining and fitting read for safari!
- Back to the Bush – James Hendry: The sequel to A Year in the Wild, this book follows the brothers in their second year away. If you liked the first one, you’ll love this follow-up!
- The Elephant Whisperer – Lawrence Anthony: A true story that’s both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It tells the story of a herd of elephants that arrived on the author’s reserve and what they taught him about love, loss and friendship. Just make sure you’ve got tissues ready when you read.
A good game is another way to enjoy your free time when not out on a drive. Of course, you don’t want to take anything too heavy or bulky to squeeze into your safari duffel bag, but I’ve got you covered with some good options.
- A Pack of Cards – The options are endless with a good pack of cards. You can play anything from Go Fish to Gin Rummy.
- Uno – One of my favourite card games, and it’s easy to play in a pair or in a larger group. Perfect for an after-dinner activity!
- Mini-games – Lots of traditional games are now available in smaller formats, including Battleship, Connect4 and Clue.
A real travel essential, headphones will keep you entertained on long journeys as well as back in your tent. Get a noise-cancelling pair for the most comfortable journey on board flights, or even a pair that’s suitable for sleeping in to drown out the noise of the bush at night.
- My Bose QuietComfort headphones have kept me entertained since I bought them over 10 years ago (granted I have the wired version from back then!). Their noise-cancelling technology is second to none and can drown out the noise of jet engines on international flights, as well as the propellers of a bush plane. So if you’re bothered by noise when trying to relax or get comfortable flying, you’ll want a pair of these!
- I struggle to sleep without having something to listen to, so these Sleephones were one of the very first things I put on my safari packing list. Sleephones are very thin headphones, encased in a headband that you can sleep comfortably in, even if you’re a side sleeper. It means I can listen to something throughout the night without disturbing my husband.
Camera & Accessories
If you enjoy wildlife photography, you won’t be surprised to hear that cameras and camera accessories are absolutely essential when on safari. Though which camera to buy for safari is an entirely personal choice, I’ve included some of my recommendations here.
The items to take on safari include:
- Camera – I love my Fujifilm XT3 as a wannabe professional, but if you’re a beginner, the Fujifilm XT100 is a great place to start.
- Lenses – For the best wildlife photography, you’ll want a telephoto or zoom lens to get in really close. My Fujifilm 100-400mm is a great choice, but take a look at Amazon’s selection for a wider choice.
- Memory Cards – You’ll want at least a couple of memory cards with lots of storage to let you take lots of photos without having to delete some later in your trip. This 128 GB has plenty of storage.
- Batteries – It’s surprising how quickly you’ll get through camera batteries when out on long game drives and bush walks. Make sure you pack spare batteries so you’re not caught short with a fantastic shot and no power! This is the battery for my XT3.
Travel Adapters & Chargers
Of course, electronics are only usable when charged, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of travel adapters and chargers to keep your things boosted.
My pick of the bunch:
- International travel adapters – Each country has its own power and plug requirements, so you’ll need to make sure you select the right one for your destination and your origin:
- Universal > South Africa & Botswana – for travellers from the US, UK, EU, Australia and more to use in South Africa and lodges in Botswana.
- US > Kenya – for travellers from the US to use in Kenya.
- Phone charger – Hopefully this will have already been on your packing list, but remember your phone charger! If you need a spare one, check out Amazon’s selection here.
- Camera charger – Even with spare camera batteries, make sure you remember your camera charger or battery charger, like this one for Fujifilm.
- Portable charger – Less essential, but still a great idea is a portable charger. Some safari jeeps have charging stations on them to keep you powered up on the drive, but a portable charger or power bank can be a life saver if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no electricity.
If you’ve been on a safari before, you’ll understand that often you can only see animals far in the distance, or your guide will point out a fascinating insect that’s too small to spot with your eyes. Do yourself a favour and pack a pair of binoculars, and thank me later!
- These Olympus binoculars are a great value option if you still want good performance. They’re comfortable to use and with an 8x zoom, they provide a great view of animals far away. They are also easy to adjust to your eyesight, providing a crystal clear view no matter what your prescription.
- These Swarovski binoculars are the same type you’d get on an &Beyond safari. They’re a little pricey, and you may be unable to justify the price when you get a decent enough performance from the Olympus model. That said, the step-up in clarity is huge and an even bigger zoom in a much smaller, more lightweight package.
In my opinion, toiletries are the hardest things to get right when packing for a safari. Take too many and you’ll likely go over your weight limit. But too few and you may be stuck out in the bush without your home comforts.
Here are my essentials:
- Mosquito repellent
- Allergy relief
- Malaria tablets (get these from your doctor!)
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste.
Even though most documents are now available digitally and can be stored on your phone, there are a number of documents where physical copies are best.
Make sure you remember to pack:
- Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate
- Any Visa evidence or required documents
I highly recommend packing all your belongings in a safari duffel bag, like the ones I have reviewed in my article for the best safari luggage. Make sure to check that out, next!
- This traditional-style duffel bag is an ideal choice for a safari. There’s plenty of room inside for all the stuff on this packing list, and more besides! It fits all safari lodge and bush plane requirements as it’s soft-sided and doesn’t have wheels, making it slightly awkward to carry but easy to squish into luggage compartments on the smallest of planes.
- If your comfort when carrying your luggage is important, opt for a soft-sided wheelie case like this Craghoppers option. The internal pockets will keep everything organised, while the fact the fabric is made from recycled bottles means you’re doing your bit for the environment too.
Downloadable Packing List
The part you’re all here for, I’m sure! Click here to download your free packing list and make sure you don’t forget any of those essentials on your next trip.
- Long-sleeved Tops
- Sweater or Hoodie
- Dress or Jumpsuit
- Beanie Hat
- Baseball Cap or Sunhat
- Memory Cards
- Travel Adapters
- Phone Charger
- Camera Charger
- Portable Charger
- Mosquito Repellent
- Allergy Relief
- Malaria Tablets
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate
- Visa evidence or other required documents
- Duffel Bag
- Camera Bag or Backpack
Now you know exactly what to pack for your next safari, all that remains is to countdown the days until your trip. Have an incredible time!