I know how to create a fantastic safari outfit for women after a year in Africa. Of course, it was not always this way, and on my first safari, I had no idea what to wear for the trip. Despite the high price tag and the fact it is often a holiday for the rich and famous, a safari is a very low-key affair. A safari is all about nature and wildlife, a sharp departure from our daily lives.
I want to be comfortable and protected in the bush, so smart clothing choices are essential. A few versatile and practical items are all you need to style the perfect safari outfit. This can even be done reasonably cheaply and still look stylish.
Here are my favorite items to make the perfect safari outfit, from safari dresses to safari pants. Head to our other post if you want ideas for men’s safari outfits.
Safari Outfit Ideas
Here are some examples of what clothes I recommend you pack for a safari. I’ll break down all these categories with suggestions to help you craft the perfect safari outfit.
I recommend you pack at least a few safari shirts for your trip. Ensure at least one is a long-sleeved shirt, as it protects against pesky mosquitos (malaria). A technical synthetic shirt can look excellent and practical.
Cotton gets dirty fast and weighs more, so go with synthetics or wool unless you like stinky/oily clothes. You hear the word layers a lot, but the vast majority of the days are very hot. Many arid climates famous for safari can see pretty cool evenings and mornings.
A stylish jacket or down jacket is super handy to have on hand for those chilly days. I advise looking at the season for where you plan to go safari. We’ve seen temperatures in South Africa near freezing in the back of a game-viewer, so it was frigid!
Best Safari Shirts for Men and Women
Everlane Linen Shirt
MSRP – $85 | Material – Linen
I like to pack a technical long-sleeve shirt for a safari, but it’s tough to beat a classic shirt from a classic material like linen. It looks and feels excellent; there is no better summer shirt. Best of all, the material remains practical as the linen has anti-microbial properties and fights against odor.
Pair a linen shirt with sandals, shorts, chinos, jeans, or boots. It will always work. Linen shirts are versatile clothing that looks good for both sexes and works at the beach, museum, archaeological site, or safari. It’s a classic style for women’s safari clothes.
It’s tough to find decent linen shirts online, but I love the quality and value of Everlane’s linen shirts. You can often score a deal, so if you stain or snag the shirt, it won’t end the world. Amazon makes some cheap linen shirts, but like most things from the company, they’re poor quality.
Columbia Tamiami II
MSRP: $50 | Material: Ripstop Polyester
The Columbia Tamiami II Shirt is a great safari shirt with various features for a comfortable outdoor experience. With its blend of Omni-Wick moisture management and antimicrobial treatment, this shirt is perfect for hot and humid climates, actively breathing and wicking away moisture for fast evaporation.
The vented back panels and front pockets provide additional ventilation, making it a comfortable choice for long days out in the sun. It provides reliable UV protection with its Omni-Shade UPF 40. The roll-up sleeves are thoughtful design features that add to the shirt’s versatility. I also appreciate that women get practical clothing with five pockets.
While this shirt’s loose cut and outdoor style may not appeal to everyone, its practical features make it an excellent option for those seeking an affordable, well-designed safari shirt. It’s not the most stylish shirt in the world, but for around $50, it’s an excellent value.
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Unbound Merino Wool V-Neck
MSRP – $85 | Material – Merino Wool
Pair a t-shirt with great pants and boots for an effortless safari look. Our favorite women’s t-shirt for safari and travel is the Unbound Wool V-Neck. A merino wool shirt is a worthy investment and one of the best travel clothes for any trip. Despite the price, we’ve already transitioned much of our wardrobe to the material. Wools shirts stay fresh longer and do an excellent job at temperature management. Best of all, the heavier fabric looks better.
Cotton shirts often take one or two wears to feel oily and heavy, while wool shirts last for days. I’ve tested a lot of wool shirts out, and my favorite for travel so far is from Unbound Merino. Their shirts are a perfect weight, and the material is soft and durable. I prefer their v-neck cut for a slightly more feminine shape.
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Safari Vest For Women
A vest is a must-have item for layering on a safari. I always bring at least one vest on my trips to Africa as it’s a fantastic accessory, and more pockets never hurt! So, pack a vest for your next safari and add a touch of sophistication to your wardrobe! It’s one of the best style accessories for a safari outfit.
Orvis Pack and Go Vest
MSRP – $129 | Material -Recycled Polyester
Orvis designs some of our favorite items for stylish outdoor wear — perfect for safari wear. The vest’s weight has a nice balance. It can be worn independently in warm weather or as an outer layer for cooler days.
It’s pretty lightweight and can fold down into an included stuff sack. A waist cinch and multiple pockets also deliver the practicality and features I want in a vest. As a bonus, the polyester material used is Bluesign® certified and dries out quickly.
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Regarding safari outfits for women, pants are a crucial component. Although I typically avoid wearing pants in hot weather, they feel more appropriate on safari. Not only do they offer better protection against insects, but they also provide coverage against the elements. I suggest packing at least two pairs of safari pants for a typical trip, to avoid doing laundry.
I’ve had the KUHL Freeflex pants for three years without issue. It’s almost impossible to stain them, and they are water-resistant. Plus, they roll up into capris when it’s hot. They look pretty decent, too, especially when you pair them with a linen shirt.
BEST Safari Pants for Men and Women
KUHL Freeflex Pants
MSRP – $109 | Material – Enduro Fabric / Freeflex
Kuhl’s ENDURO™ blend fabric in their Freeflex Roll-Up pants is a testament to their commitment to quality and durability. I prefer the comfort of lightweight synthetic pants as most safaris occur in hot weather. These safari pants are lightweight and super comfortable. For outdoor pants, these are surprisingly comfortable.
Not only does the fabric feel soft against the skin, but it has also proven to be resistant to wear and tear after repeated use. The double-stitching and metal buttons are just a few of the high-end details that set these pants apart.
The Freeflex Roll-Up pants convert to capris and feature six functional pockets and an internal drawstring. It all makes the perfect combination for women who want practicality and comfort.
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REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants
MSRP – $69 | Material – Cotton/Poly
The REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants are the ultimate choice for safari pants that combines style, comfort, and durability. I love that REI took the traditional style of outdoor wear and made these joggers with cuffed ankles. It makes for cute and super functional pants.
With a blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex fabric, these pants wick away moisture and stretch to provide a comfortable fit. The double-layer fabric reinforcements at the knees and thighs offer added durability, making these pants ideal for outdoor adventures.
For added convenience, these pants feature a range of pockets, including jeans-style coin, hand, and back pockets, a drop-in tool pocket at the side, and a pencil pocket at the thigh. It adds a cool utilitarian look to the joggers, and they’re super functional too! I love these pants!
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It gets HOT in Africa, especially in the middle of the day. I recommend bringing at least one pair of safari shorts to stay cool – plus, they look great and will add to your women’s safari outfit. I prefer a nice pair of shorts that are practical yet stylish.
I suggest pants as protection against mosquitos, but they usually come out in the evenings and at night. I wear shorts for morning game drives and daytime activities. When it comes to afternoons and sundowners, I switch to pants.
10 Best Safari Shorts for Men and Women
prAna Women’s Elle Shorts
MSRP – $59 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
The prAna Elle Shorts are ideal for women seeking comfort and versatility on their safari adventure. The shorts blend organic cotton and spandex for excellent breathability and stretch. The result is a super comfortable pair of shorts that look great. As prAna generally strives for sustainable materials, the cotton is Fair Trade Certified and organic.
The Elle Shorts also offer stylish design features such as detail stitching at the front waistband, seaming at the front legs, and side seam slit detail. The shorts also feature front and back patch pockets with edge bands, making them a functional and fashionable choice for safari.
With a mid-rise, fitted design and available in 3″ and 5″ inseam options, the prAna Elle Shorts are the perfect addition to any adventurous woman’s wardrobe.
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The North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts
MSRP – $45 | Material – Nylon/Elastane
The North Face Aphrodite Motion Shorts are perfect for safaris and other adventures. They’re made with a soft herringbone fabric that stretches for mobility and has water-repellent, sweat-wicking, and sun-protecting properties.
The shorts come in various colors, including khaki, and have a comfortable waistband, hand pockets, and a secure-zip pocket. The shorts are also adjustable thanks to a stretch draw cord. Get ready for any outdoor adventure with these shorts!
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A safari dress or romper is excellent because they are a one-piece safari outfit for ladies. I like to bring a few dresses on safari as they’re comfortable.
You’re not all that active on safari, so it’s not an issue. Plus, a dress is much cooler than pants. They’re also perfect for photos and ideal for living out your favorite safari movie.
Small tip, rompers are super cute, but if you need to use the bathroom in the bush, it can be a little inconvenient. I’d stick to wearing them around camp or the lodge.
10 Best Safari Dress Options For Your African Safari
Scotch & Soda Safari Dress
MSRP – $165 | Material -Tencel
This fashion-forward safari dress from Scotch & Soda delivers everything I want in style. The classic off-white look, cuffs, and buttons down the front will feel right at home on a safari.
It’s made from a lightweight material called Tencel that is eco-friendly and operates in a closed-loop system. That soft material is light and breathes easily, so you’re comfortable and cool in the African sun. Be warned, this is a super popular item from the brand, and they regularly sell out.
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Patagonia Fleetwith Romper
MSRP – $129 | Material -Recycled Polyester/Spandex
I love Patagonia as they’re always looking to reduce their impact and improve the supply line. The Patagonia Fleetwith Romper is Bluesign certified and super comfortable. While the Fleetwith is available as a dress, I prefer the romper best.
It’s comfortable, fits just about anyone, and is practical when active or moving around. With the romper, you can easily feel comfortable on a bush flight, in the back of a game viewer, or on a bush walk.
The one-piece romper is made from a 91% recycled polyester/9% spandex blend, moves with your body, resists wrinkles, and quickly dries. The romper and dress make for great safari wear, and they are so versatile you may end up living in them at home. It’s a slam dunk in our books for safari clothes for women.
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I always carry a spare bathing suit, even on a safari. Plenty of great beach lodges make for a beautiful and relaxing end to a busy safari. That doesn’t include the many safari lodges and hotels with a pool. We’ve even taken impromptu dips in the various rivers and natural springs. Consider a swimsuit a necessity when it comes to safari clothes for women.
One of the best brands of swimsuits I’ve found is Londre. They make amazing swimsuits that fit as nicely as they look. Many of their pieces are stylish yet supportive. You are warned you will love them! You can read about the best hotels in Zanzibar or Diani Beach!
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No matter what season you go on safari, you should at least bring a warm fleece jacket (maybe even a down jacket) just in case it gets cold (which it probably will). However, I recommend a nice safari jacket if you want something more stylish for warmth and photos.
The jacket below provides some warmth but is light enough for mild days. If it’s truly cold, you’ll want something warmer.
Orvis Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket
MSRP – $169 | Material -Recycled Polyester/Spandex
If you’re looking for something versatile and packed with style, the Orvis Pack And Go is a great choice. This adorable mid-thigh travel jacket is wind and water-resistant, has a stowaway hood, and loads of space and hidden pockets.
The fit is complimenting, cinching at the waist, and the colors are pretty muted, making this jacket the perfect pairing to almost any outfit! The polyester blend also resists wrinkling, which is excellent because it comes with a stuff sack so that you can pack and go.
A large downside for us is the use of polyester. It’s a cheaper material and one of the best ways to distinguish high-end vs. more affordable options. Polyester has a lower fail rate, easier to snag, and requires a weather-resistant coating to remain water-resistant, which breaks down over time.
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You’ll be sitting in a car for most of your African safari. I wear sandals quite a bit unless I go on a bush walk, where good shoes or boots are a must. You don’t want to have to run from a buffalo in the wrong shoes (joking)!
I suggest bringing at least one pair of durable sandals and one good pair of women’s safari boots.
You won’t want to live in safari boots. Good sandals are great for comfort on long travel days and under the hot African sun, like in Namibia or Egypt. Like the locals, we spend 90% of our time in a pair of sandals when traveling around Africa. We only use our boots on bush walks, long hikes, and dirty streets.
My favorite brand is Rainbow Sandals, as they last forever and are super comfortable once the leather forms to your foot. Another attractive option is for women is the Yoga Sling 2 from Sanuk.
Blundstone Chelsea Boots
MSRP – $210 | Material – Leather
Blundstones are our go-to travel boots and make excellent safari boots. This boot is stylish, functional, and practical for any travel adventure. While it’s not a “technical” boot, it handles moderate hikes and terrain impressively. Style is strong, with a wide range of leather finishes to match your taste.
As they use premium leather, they require some upkeep with leather treatment to ensure longevity and water resistance. The Blundstone Chelsea Boot is a solid go-to for any stylish and practical safari adventure. We love these boots!
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Merrell Women’s Moab 3
MSRP – $120 | Material – Leather
If you’re in the market for hiking boots, the Merrell Moab 3 Boots are a popular choice. They’re made of leather, textile, and synthetic materials and are comfortable straight out of the box. Plus, with Merrell’s expertise in hiking boots, you can rest assured that your feet will be in good hands for long-distance walks.
I have owned several pairs of Moabs and can attest to their quality over the years. However, one thing to remember is that these boots are less specialized. While they are comfortable immediately, the soles are soft, making them less ideal for avid hikers. However, for everyone else, Merrell Moabs are a solid choice for comfortable safari boots that won’t disappoint.
You don’t want your skin ruined from the harsh African sun; a hat is essential to every women’s safari outfit. A safari hat is not just about fashion but functions as it keeps the sun off your face.
Since the equator splits Africa, expect intense UV rays. No accessory is better suited or more fashionable than a safari hat—it feels right and never out of place.
16 Best Safari Hats for Men and Women
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
Tilley has long been famed for its sun protection hats. They’ve seen the world over and had more than a few adventures. It holds its shape, and the material has a stylish look. What sets Tilley apart is that they guarantee their hats for life against wear and tear.
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Scala All-Season Crushable Hat
Oh my, I love this safari hat for women. The wool felt makes for an all-around great-looking stylish safari hat. The style is similar to a fedora with a very Western vibe. It looks great, and the price point isn’t bad, either.
The best part is that the material still allows you to crush the hat to fit inside your luggage for such a good-looking one. No one wants to wear an outdoor hat home on a 15-hour flight. Once you take it out of your bag, it snaps right back into shape!
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You’ll need a good safari bag to carry and pack all these safari clothes. You may take a bush flight or two if you’re going on safari. I recommend packing light, as most small planes severely limit baggage weight.
We have been on flights where we are only allowed 15 kg a person, and some flights allow 25 kg. Make sure only to pack what you need.
The Best Safari Bags and Backpacks
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag
The Patagonia Black Hole bag is a staple for adventure travel and one of the best safari bags. The bag can pack small when empty and easily fits in a suitcase. It was also easy to stuff and organize, thanks to the large U-shaped zipper and two mesh pockets on the top flap. It’s also super lightweight, an essential aspect of strict weight allowances on bush planes.
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Nomatic Travel Bag
Nomatic is relatively new to the anti-theft backpack game, only getting started after raising over 5 million dollars on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They claim to have created the “most functional travel bag ever!” Based on their design scheme, it makes for one heck of a safari bag.
However, this is a business/travel backpack with anti-theft features, such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, rather than calling it primarily an anti-theft bag. This bag feels right at home traveling anywhere, including on a safari.
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Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses ($109)
Polarized sunglasses help with contrast and spotting wildlife. It can be dusty in the back of a game vehicle. Then much of East Africa sits on the equator, which means UV rays are much stronger, so eye protection is super important.
Smith Optics Lodown 2.0 makes excellent active sunglasses that look sharp enough to wear around a posh seaside town. For a more formal and stylish brand, we love Persol and Rayban for their timeless style.
Buff Headwear ($15)
We travel around with Buff Headwear, and they’re some of our favorite travel accessories that we’ve recommended a handful of times. They’re great for keeping sweat out of our eyes on a hike.
Or in dust out of your face when riding down a dusty road, which you’ll need on Safari. They offer sun protection, can act as a scarf, and many other things. Buy one and fall in love with it.
Grayl GeoPress Purifier Water Bottle ($99)
It’s not advisable to drink tap water in most of Africa. We travel with a water bottle that purifies water for safe drinking water. Our favorite is the Grayl GeoPress Purifier bottle. It saves money, reduces plastic waste, and ensures our water is safe and free of viruses and other waterborne illnesses.
The Grayl bottle is not only practical but also innovative in design. A press-like system effectively filters out sediment, bacteria, and heavy metals, leaving only clean and safe water. Its wide-mouth top makes it easy to drink and fill, and its sleek design fits comfortably in any bag or backpack.
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Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 ($250)
A great safari accessory to have is a pair of safari binoculars. Nikon has long been a reputable name in binocular manufacturing, and Monarch 5 Binoculars are an excellent example.
The 42mm lens diameter allows for excellent low-light viewing, while the body is built for extreme use – sounds perfect for a safari.
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General Tips On Packing For Africa
Here are a few things to remember before you go on a shopping spree for your safari outfit.
- Be sure to note what time of year you are traveling to Africa. The rainy season in Southern Africa varies significantly from the rainy season in Eastern Africa. A rain jacket is essential if you are traveling during the rainy season.
- I like to travel around Africa with clothes made from synthetic materials, linen or hemp, as they dry fast and fight stains. You’re often faced with very humid climates, and it’s easy for clothes to get funky.
- Dark shades of blue attract the dreaded tsetse fly, found throughout parts of Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and other general pockets of Africa. So it’s best to try and avoid this color.
- You’ll be able to find local clothing in many villages on the side of the road. The most common wear is a type of Batik print for women. You’ve seen those vibrant women before! It’s Asian in origin, but it’s hugely popular throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and easy to find everywhere.
- If you need new shirts or pants, big cities are your best bet for Western-style clothing. You can find lovely gift shops outside a few tourist hot spots.
- You’ll always be able to find local women who will wash your clothes for you. For a small fee, they will hand wash, hang dry, and often iron your clothing for an affordable price. It’s a great way to support local families, as women can do the work at home. I highly recommend seeking them out. We do so by asking our accommodation staff for recommendations. Many times it was one of their close relatives who did it for us.
- Many high-end safari lodges will wash your clothes for free.
- Most safari lodges will have shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and bug spray, so there is no need to bring those items.
What To Look For in A Women’s Safari Outfit
African elements can be tough on women’s safari clothing, so choose good quality clothing made from robust fabrics with intelligent design and double stitching. Avoid fast fashion companies such as H&M, Zara, and Forever21.
Look for lightweight, synthetic, quick-dry clothing from recycled nylon or sustainable materials such as hemp, wool, or linen. Avoid rayon and opt for organic cotton if possible. You’re on a trip to explore the wonders of nature. A safari outfit shouldn’t negatively impact the environment.
Pack interchangeable clothes to avoid carrying a jumbo suitcase. One long skirt or dress, one pair of shorts, and two pairs of pants that go well with plain-colored shirts are great options.
Pockets are essential for storing lip balm, sunscreen, or binoculars. Choose comfortable and practical clothes, and avoid black yoga pants with no pockets.
Color Choice & Camouflage
A safari outfit should blend in with the environment. You should wear beige, green, and brown colored clothes. They are the staple colors of safari wear because they blend into the environment and can provide a better game-viewing experience.
While wearing, bright colors such as red are said to scare off animals and make you stand out. This may or may not be true. Only the animals know for sure. Of course, the Maasai Warriors in Kenya and Tanzania have been wearing red for centuries!
That being said, neutral colors do a great job of hiding dirt and dust, which there will be plenty of on a drive or walk through the bush. White clothes aren’t going to stay white very long, and dark colors are believed to attract tsetse flies. Trust us; you do not want to become familiar with tsetse flies!
For example, wearing long pants and greens is advised when gorilla trekking. When on foot, wearing colors that blend well into the environment and a good pair of safari boots is always recommended.
We love greens, beige, and khaki just as much as the next wannabe Merryl Streep in Out of Africa. However, you will spend a lot of time in a car on game drives in Africa. Wearing these colors help you blend in and don’t bake your body under the hot African sun, but in the end, colors don’t matter.
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book it for you. They suggest camps and lodges, then present you with a hefty bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way. You can choose the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you by booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.