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How To Create A Safari Style

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When I was booking my dream trip to Africa, the thought of what to wear on safari was daunting. It was my first trip to Africa and I flew between safari camps in Botswana on small planes. This meant strict baggage restrictions; I had no choice but to take the light stuff.

How To Create A Safari Style

How To Create A Safari Style

In the past, I’ve traveled light by creating capsule wardrobes—choosing clothes in colors that mix and match to create multiple outfits, but still fit in my carry-on. So I decided to use the same approach for my African safari.

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The list of items for a safari will vary depending on the destination and the time of year. East Africa is closer to the equator, so it’s warmer year-round, while South Africa varies more. Winter brings cold nights. The length of your trip is not a problem as most safari lodges have laundry facilities. Check with your travel agent or safari provider before you travel. I once did laundry during my safari.

My safari was a 6 day adventure in Botswana; I was here in March, at the end of the South African summer, also known as the green season. At this time of year, the nights were not as cold as in winter, but still chilly. And daytime temperatures reached 100 Fahrenheit! So I had to dress for both the heat and the cold.

The decision about what to pack was also determined by luggage limits – mine was 20kg. In East Africa, the weight limit can reach 15 kg; check it out with your safari outfit. Luggage must also be in a soft bag. More on that below.

I chose a color palette of neutral colors – green, brown, beige and brown. It made it easy to combine pieces because almost everything worked with everything. If you’re anything like me, waking up at 5:30am for a morning game drive will seem like an early morning. You will want to dress as simply as possible. The day bag allows you to carry an extra layer in the jeep, as well as sunscreen and camera equipment.

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I made my safari list starting with tops and bottoms that went well together, were comfortable and stylish. Then I added some layers: a versatile jacket, an evening woolen jacket, a raincoat and a down jacket. The morning was cold and we had rain so I was thankful for it.

From shoes, I took boots and sandals. I wasn’t sure if I needed ankle boots, but I liked them, they provided protection and kept the bugs away. I also debated sandals, but they were great for a hot afternoon and I wore them on game drives for a few days. Sunglasses, a hat and a day bag were my other safari essentials.

During my 6 days on safari, I wore pants and at least two layers on top for the morning game, then shorts in the afternoon when the temperature soared into the 90s Fahrenheit. Especially if you’re in a swimsuit during downtime, expect to change several times throughout the day.

How To Create A Safari Style

For this reason, I traveled with packing cubes that I liked. They act as drawers to keep things organized, which is especially helpful if you’re staying in multiple playhouses like I did. With each new house, it is not necessary to unpack and pack everything.

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Safaris are comfortable, so there’s no need to dress fancy for dinner. Still, I like to change into something nicer for the evening. Since it was cold and I tried to avoid bug bites, I always wore long pants at night, usually a long-sleeved shirt and my sweater. I also had a cute linen jacket that I wore to dinner. I just added a necklace to accent my outfit.

Everything I brought had to work well with multiple pieces. A long-sleeved cashmere sweater is also a good option for the evening, especially if you are going on safari in the South African winter.

My number one tip for creating any capsule wardrobe is to try everything on ahead of time. It’s the only way to know what works with what. And start with what you already have. Using items that were already in my closet, I just bought a few new items for my safari wardrobe. Below I’m including all the main clothing items I brought. If they are no longer available, I have listed something similar from a brand I own, even if I don’t have that exact item.

I try to focus on brands that are committed to sustainability and prefer to buy clothes that will last and that I will enjoy for years to come. Since I travel a lot, things need to be durable and easy to mix and match in capsule wardrobes. I focus on well-made essentials rather than fashion items. Better to spend a little more and buy less.

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I recommend choosing two neutral colors for your safari wardrobe – beige, brown and khaki green are good choices. I brought three pairs of pants and in hindsight could have done with two, especially if I had access to a laundry service. I picked up a pair of quick-dry road pants from Athleta that I love (pictured above). They are very light and wrinkle free – perfect when it was hot but I wanted to keep my legs covered. Mine was a few years ago; Brooklyn Heights pants are a similar option from Athleta. Kuhl’s Freeflex Roll-Up Pant is another option. Very well rated and can be rolled into capris.

As I said, it was very hot. I was thankful for the shorts. I wore them on afternoon drives and relaxing at the safari lodge between drives, lounging on the verandah or taking pictures. Mine is several years old. Since comfort is paramount on safari, these loose-fitting options will be great: Everlane’s Organic Pull-On Short. I also like this one from REI for being quick drying, the Sahara Bermuda Shorts.

I was looking for a onesie at home because it looked light and cool – perfect for a hot afternoon. I didn’t get any. Then, in South Africa, just before I left for Botswana, a little boutique had a cute jumpsuit, so I bought it. It was great for hot weather – light and easy. You can choose it instead of shorts if you want to take less.

How To Create A Safari Style

Cute Athleta Brooklyn Romper in Olive or Lulus Everyday Energy Romper in Beige (limited sizes). And if you’re comfortable showing your skin to the lions 😉 and want to wear something cute on safari, I love this Harper linen jumpsuit from Reformation.

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Yes, I could have done without this shirt dress, but it was nice to have it. I wore it during two very hot days traveling in Africa. And his classic safari style was nice for the photos we took while enjoying our cocktails. Cocktails are the highlight of any day on safari; You enjoy a classic refreshing drink like a gin and tonic while you take in the beauty of the scenery and reflect on the day’s adventures.

I already had this one; it’s from Banana Republic. I’m trying to support more diverse brands that prioritize responsible manufacturing, and Banana Republic doesn’t exist yet. But they do a great job with the safari style; this is actually the style they started with. Here’s their linen mini dress; I especially love it in brown (whiskey). And here is an option from Orvis: the Explorer Camp Dress. I find Orvis stuff to be classic and well made. I’m not sure about their work with responsible manufacturing. I’ll update this when I know more.

A lightweight long-sleeved shirt is the cornerstone of your African safari outfit. I wore mine day and night, alone and layered. I chose a dark brown linen shirt, but a khaki green or brown would also be great on safari. Cotton or linen is good. I wanted to avoid a light colored long sleeved shirt as it shows stains more easily.

It’s a classic piece that you’ll wear again and again, not just on safari. Maybe you already have one in your closet. If you’re not, some similar options I like are the available European Linen Quince (the washed olive color is gorgeous) or the Everlane Casual Linen Shirt in Kalamata.

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Some people will say that you shouldn’t wear white on safari because it can look bright to the animals. But I already have a white short-sleeved shirt, so I decided to take that instead of buying another one. Mine is a few years old, but any comfortable short-sleeve cotton shirt will do for your safari outfit. This one is similar and comes in a gorgeous sea grass green: Everlane

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