What Should I Pack for Safari?

So you’ve booked the safari of a lifetime, and now you need to figure out what to bring with you! Keep reading for tips on what to wear to avoid mosquitos, insect bites and sunburn, and other necessities you should pack for your safari.

Avoiding Mosquitos and other Biting Insects During your Safari

When you think of people on safari you probably imagine head to toe khaki clothing, but do you know why?

It’s because of Tsetse flies!

Tsetse flies are biting insects that inhabit much of Africa, and they are attracted to dark colors. Besides avoiding dark clothes due to the strong sun you definitely want to avoid them due to the Tsetse flies.

Tsetse bites are annoying, itchy, and in some places in Africa the Tsetse flies can carry East African Trypanosomiasis. The majority of infections (95%+) occur in Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia. Regardless of your destination, you should avoid being a Tsetse target by taking the proper precautions before your safari.

Read more about East African Trypanosomiasis here.

What to Wear on Safari

Here our some of our favorite clothes you should pack for safari. These will keep you covered from the harsh sun, protected from Tsetse and mosquitos, and keep you warm during early morning game drives.

Women’s Pants to Pack for Safari:

Men’s Pants to Pack for Safari:

Kid’s Pants to Pack for Safari:

Note: Both of our kids (a boy and a girl) wear the first two pairs of pants listed below. Although they are listed as “girl’s” pants they are very much unisex and the kids love the stretchy/pull-on waist band.

What to Wear on Top?

We feel like tops are a bit more flexible and you don’t necessarily need to bring specific “safari” shirts on your trip. Just remember to keep things light in color and weight.

If you are looking for quick-dry, lightweight, safari-specific shirts here are some of our favorites for the whole family. Bonus: a safari dress which our daughter has and is absolutely OBSESSED with!

Safari Shirts for the Whole Family:

Travel and Safari Jackets:

Many of your safari drives are likely to start at or before sunrise. The sun hasn’t had a chance to warm up the plains so you better be prepared with a light jacket or sweater as you start your adventure!

Tip: Ask your safari lodge if they provide blankets in the safari cars. The cars are all open (except for the roof) so it can get pretty cold in the early morning hours.

Here are some light jackets that are great for travel, not just safari trips:

Ok I Have My Clothes, Now What?

Now that we’ve got your clothes sorted, the next step is to protect yourself from Tsetse flies and mosquitos with bug repellant.

You can go the route of covering yourself with heavy duty DEET bug repellant before you leave your tent every morning and reapply throughout the day, but we went a different route.

One of the reasons I researched alternative mosquito repellant methods was because our son was a baby when we went on safari, and we didn’t feel comfortable exposing him to so many harsh chemicals at such a young age.

Enter Sawyer Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent!

This is our tried and tested absolute favorite way to protect ourselves without lathering ourselves and our young children everyday with DEET spray.

You apply it to your clothes BEFORE you leave home, and it protects you from biting insects for up to 6 weeks or through 6 washings, whichever comes first. One bottle can cover about 5 complete outfits, so we needed 2 full bottles to prepare our clothes for our family of four.

Accessories to Pack for Safari

The sun is no joke when you’re out on safari. Protect your head (our favorite safari hat linked below has a wire rim so you can reshape it after it gets smushed in your luggage) and your eyes with good quality sunglasses.

Tip: Make sure the safari outfitter you choose has a roof on the safari vehicles! You will spend many hours in the safari cars and you don’t want to be baking in the sun.

Other Important Things to Pack for Safari

Some other important things to bring on your safari:

  • Comfortable, closed-toed walking shoes
  • Ear plugs (if you think you’ll have trouble sleeping when lions are roaring outside your tent in the middle of the night)
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF

Let us know if you we missed anything or if you have any questions. Have an incredible safari! While you’re waiting for your trip make sure to watch our Safari of a Lifetime (Masai Mara) and Finding Elephants (Amboseli) travel films from Kenya.