Best Safari Clothes for Women: Outfit Examples + Where to Buy 

by | Last updated Mar 29, 2024 | Safari Packing List, South Africa

Images of khaki pants and an Australian outback hat immediately come to mind when I think of the safari outfit. As a first-time safari-goer, I had no idea what to wear. Now that I have done two safari experiences, one at Lion Sands in South Africa and one at Chobe National Park in Botswana, I can now share my travel pearls of what are the best safari clothes for women. 

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Khaki Safari Outfit

OPTION A: Ahh, too much khaki! Please tell me there are other options.

Glamorous Safari Outfit for Women

OPTION B: Gorgeous, but are you seriously going to wear this sitting in a jeep in the heat with dust and bugs flying around you?

When I first started my search for the ideal safari clothes for women, I thought there has to be more choices than options A and B as seen from the photos above.

I despise khaki (and I’m fair-skinned which does not mix well with skin-toned colors), and I crave feminine, well-fitted, PRACTICAL clothes (that do not look like you are only wearing them for a dramatic Instagram shot).

Is there an option C?

Yes!

But it took me a lot of purchases and returns later to find the best safari clothes for women. I hope my trial-and-error clothing discoveries can help you as you pack for one of the most epic experiences of your life … the African safari!

By the way, if you are still trying to figure out what to pack, don’t miss my ultimate safari packing list below (#23 will surprise you!).

Best Safari Shirts for Women

There are three features you want to look for when selecting a safari shirt:

→   Lightweight

→   Breathable fabrics

→   UPF 40+ rating

All these features are discussed more in detail at the end of this blog post. Click here if you want to read more about these features and tips first.

You do not have to stick to beige and browns for your safari drive that look like the color of your skin. Instead, I opted for colors such as light blue, grey, olive green, white, rust, and soft pink.

Here are my top recommendations on the best safari shirts for women that are stylish and feminine but also practical.

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#1- ORVIS OPEN AIR CASTER SHIRT

The Orvis Open Air Caster Shirt in White

Orvis Open Air Caster Shirt in White

WHY I LOVE THE ORVIS OPEN AIR CASTER SHIRT:

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • UPF 40 rated
  • Built-in Odor Control
  • Roll-tab sleeves
  • White is a versatile color that will pair with any pants
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#2- ORVIS CHAMBRAY SHIRT

Orvis Chambray Shirt

Orvis Chambray Shirt in Alpine Lake

WHY I LOVE THE ORVIS CHAMBRAY SHIRT:

  • Dries quickly
  • Super breathable
  • UPF 40 rated
  • Built-in Odor Control
  • Wrinkle resistant
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#3- KUHL ARRIVA SHIRT

Kuhl Arriva Shirt

Kuhl Arriva Shirt in Olive

WHY I LOVE THE KUHL ARRIVA SHIRT:

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Quick drying
  • UPF 50 rated
  • Moisture wicking

Best Safari Pants for Women 

I admit it.

I overpack and like to plan for all possible outfits I may need. If you are taking a small plane to your safari destination, you will likely have a weight limit for your luggage.

That means you have to make smart choices of what clothing to bring.

Pants take up a fair amount of space in your luggage, so it’s very important to pick pants that are LIGHTWEIGHT and versatile.

Let’s go through some of my favorite picks to make your trip enjoyable and comfortable.

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#1- PRANA HALLE PANT

The Prana Halle Pant

Prana Halle Pant in Sedona Fields

WHY I LOVE THE PRANA HALLE PANT:

  • Stretch performance with durable water-repellant (DWR) finish
  • UPF 50+ rated
  • Roll-up leg feature
  • Comes in a lot of great colors
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#2- ANATOMIE KATE CARGO PANTS

Kate Cargo Pants

Kate Skinny Cargo Pants in Army Green

WHY I LOVE THE ANATOMIE KATE CARGO PANTS:

  • Stretchy material
  • Breathable
  • Quick-drying
  • Lightweight

When I say these pants are lightweight, I really mean it!  See the photo below to see how thin the Anatomie pants are … 3 pairs of my Anatomie pants = roughly 1 pair of jeans.

Anatomie pants vs. Jeans

Anatomie pants vs. Jeans

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#3- L.L. BEAN VISTA CAMP PANTS

L.L. Bean VIsta Camp Pants

L.L. Bean Vista Camp Pants in Granite 

WHY READERS LOVE L.L. BEAN VISTA CAMP PANTS:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable (made from rugged nylon)
  • UPF 50+ rated
  • Dries quickly
  • Moisture wicking

* I haven’t tried these pants yet, but I had to include them because readers keep raving about how great these pants are for safari drives. I can’t wait to try them out on our next trip!

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#4- KUHL FREEFLEX ROLL-UP PANTS

Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pant

Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up Pants in Eucalyptus

WHY I LOVE THE KUHL FREEFLEX PANTS:

  • Stretchy material

  • Roll-up pants

  • Lightweight

  • Quick drying

  • Water-resistant FREEFLEX

  • UPF 50+ rated

Women’s Safari Outfit Examples

My husband hates taking personal photos, so you’ll only see a few personal safari photos of us in this blog post. 

Since I did not have photos of every single safari outfit I wore while in South Africa and Botswana, I took a few photos back home to demonstrate what I wore on our 4-day trip.

Safari Outfit Day 1

Safari Outfit Day 1

Safari Outfit Day 2

Safari Outfit Day 2

Safari Outfit Day 3

Safari Outfit Day 3

Safari Outfit Day 4

Safari Outfit Day 4

Best Safari Shorts for Women

I strongly advise wearing pants on your safari drive because of the dust, sun, and bugs.

However, back at the safari lodge, you may want to slip into something clean and comfortable to walk around in.

Here are my recommended versatile performance shorts:

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#1- PRANA DOUBLE PEAK SHORT

Prana Double Peak Short

Prana Double Peak Short in Mud

WHY I LOVE THE PRANA DOUBLE PEAK SHORT:

  • Lightweight

  • UPF 50+ rated

  • Moisture wicking

  • Stretchy

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#2- PRANA ELLE SHORT

Prana Elle shorts

Prana Elle Short in Rust

WHY I LOVE THE PRANA ELLE SHORT:

  • Comes in fun colors

  • 4-way stretch

  • Lots of pockets

Best Safari Hats for Women

Wearing a safari hat and taking photos of elephants in Chobe National Park Botswana

Wearing a safari hat and taking photos of elephants in Chobe National Park in Botswana

Bring a hat!

The African sun is strong and hot. If you want to avoid skin cancer and wrinkles, be sun smart. This saved my skin!

One other feature you may want to consider in a safari hat is a chin strap.

It was not very windy when we were in Sabi Sands in South Africa. I can imagine though if you are traveling by jeep on an open plain in Tanzania, there may be more wind that could steal your hat away.

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#1- ORVIS PACKABLE FELT HAT

Orvis Women's Saddle Packable Felt Hat

Orvis Women’s Saddle Packable Felt Hat

WHY I LOVE THE ORVIS PACKABLE FELT HAT:

  • Super packable!
  • Water-repellant and stain-resistant
  • Adjustable interior band
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#2- J.CREW PACKABLE STRAW HAT

Packable wide brim straw hat from Jcrew

J.Crew Packable Straw Hat

WHY I LOVE THE J.CREW PACKABLE STRAW HAT:

  • Lightweight
  • Super squishy and packable!
  • Stylish

Best Safari Jackets for Women

Depending on the time of year, you will need a light to medium jacket.

Remember, those mornings can be chilly!

Layer, layer, layer!

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#1- ANATOMIE KENYA SAFARI JACKET

Anatomie Kenya Safari Jacket

Anatomie Kenya Safari Jacket

WHY I LOVE THE ANATOMIE KENYA SAFARI JACKET:

  • Super stylish and slim fit

  • Versatile- wear it on safari by day and city by night

  • Lots of pockets

  • Lightweight

  • Performance stretch

  • UPF 50+ rated

  • Wrinkle AND wind-resistant

  • Machine washable!

* I am a little obsessed with this jacket. I even purchased a second one if that says something.

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#2- REI 650 DOWN JACKET

REI 650 Down Jacket

REI 650 Down Jacket in Saragasso Sea

WHY I LOVE THE REI 650 DOWN JACKET:

  • Windproof
  • Water resistant
  • Great for layering up on a safari and for city exploring
Our safari ranger and tracker at Lion Sands River Lodge

Wearing my light down jacket on a safari drive

Best Safari Shoes for Women

A lot of the blogs will suggest hiking boots. I strongly disagree IF you are only doing game drives.

If you are doing a walking safari, then please bring those heavier mid-rise hiking boots! You may be walking in tall grass, navigating around rocks, or accidentally stepping in lion poop. Sturdy boots are essential for protection and keeping those dainty ankles away from biting insects.

Otherwise, lightweight trail runners work perfectly. They provide a little grip just in case you jump out for a quick walk or to enjoy a sundowner.

Plus, remember those little planes taking you to your safari destination have weight limits. Pack light!

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#1- SAUCONY PEREGRINE TRAIL RUNNERS

Saucony Peregrine Trail Runners

Saucony Peregrine Trail Runners

WHY I LOVE THE SAUCONY PEREGRINE TRAIL RUNNERS:

  • Lugs for good traction
  • Lightweight
  • Variety of fun colors to choose from
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#2- ROTHY'S SLIP ON SNEAKER

Rothys Slip On Sneaker

Rothy’s Slip On Sneakers in Sand

WHY I LOVE THE ROTHY’S SLIP ON SNEAKER:

  • Doubles as a great “transit” shoe for travel days on/off the airplane
  • Do not wear on a walking safari but perfectly fine if sitting in a jeep for 3 hours
  • Super comfotable
  • Machine washable
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#3- BLUNDSTONE CHELSEA BOOTS (WALKING SAFARI)

Blundstone Chelsea Boots

Blundstone Chelsea Boots in Cocoa Brown

WHY I LOVE THE BLUNDSTONE CHELSEA  BOOTS:

  • Cushioned midsoles
  • Leather uppers are weather-resistant
  • Vibram Megagrip outsoles
  • Immediately comfortable
  • Great for walking safaris

Bathing Suit

Swimming in Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls on the Zambia side

Swimming in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls on the Zambia side

I was already planning on bringing a bathing suit. The first thing we did on our 2 week Africa itinerary was swim in Devil’s Pool on top of Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall!

It was unusually cool when we went on a safari at the end of September, so unfortunately I did not get in the pool at our safari lodge. After spending several hours in a safari jeep, it was tempting though!

Fleece or Sweatshirt

Athleta super soft sweatshirt

Athleta super soft sweatshirt

Remember the mornings and evenings in Africa can get chilly. Layers are so important!

My favorite is my Athleta sweatshirt due to its super soft material.

Safari Dress Alternative

Anatomie Louisa Skinny Jean Pant in Black

Anatomie Louisa Skinny Jean Pant in Black

I had brought a few dresses with me because prior to the safari portion of our trip, we had the opportunity to dine at some of the best restaurants in Cape Town including The Test Kitchen!

We had also visited numerous wineries in South Africa wine country, so I did end up bringing a few “dressier” items.

I love wearing dresses, but I found a safari lodge is really not the place people wear them. Everyone was super casual.

Of course, wear what you want, but I would have felt a little out of place wearing a dress.

If you do wear one, a long maxi dress probably makes the most sense to keep your legs protected from mosquitoes.

So instead I opted to wear my Anatomie Luisa Skinny Jean Pant in black with a flowy top and sandals.

Then I just alternated tops since black goes with everything. Remember, there are no tsetse flies in South Africa, but if you are in another country that has them, no black or dark blue!

Sorry, no photo from the safari trip, so I took a photo of the Anatomie pants I wore for dinners at the safari lodge when I got home.

Best Women’s Safari Accessories

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MULTI-COLORED SCARF

Chalkley Treehouse at Lion Sands River Lodge

Wearing a multi-colored scarf at Chalkley Treehouse at Lion Sands River Lodge

Morning safaris can be chilly depending on the time of the year you go. Layer up.

One way to do that is to bring a scarf. Not only does it provide warmth, but it also fends off the sun and dust.

I opted for a multi-colored scarf I could wear with multiple outfits. Orvis usually has some great colorful options.

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POLARIZED SUNGLASSES

Wearing our safari clothes at Chobe National Park

Wearing my Ray Ban sunglasses in Chobe National Park in Botswana

My husband does not care for polarized sunglasses, but I love them.

They reduce eye strain and cut down the glare and help as you are staring into the distant bushes trying to make out if you just saw a leopard.

My favorites are my Ray-Ban sunglasses. I have several pairs, and all are polarized.

9 Safari Clothing Tips

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#1- WHERE TO BUY SAFARI CLOTHING

I did not care for all the khaki boxy clothing options I was discovering when I Googled where to buy safari clothing.

I found the best clothing for a safari is from travel, camping, hiking, and fishing stores. They sell clothing that is performance-performing, lightweight, and durable. My favorite stores include the following:

→   Prana

→   REI

→   Kuhl

→   Orvis

→   Anatomie

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#2- PICK LIGHTWEIGHT CLOTHING

A lot of the safari lodges will offer laundry service. However, if you need to wash an article of clothing by hand, pick something lightweight that dries quickly.

By far, my Anatomie pants are the quickest-drying clothing I have ever encountered.

There have been a few occasions where I have had to wash them in the sink with a little soap, and they literally air-dry within a few hours.

Pretty impressive!

According to Anatomie’s website, they can be dried in under 8 minutes using a hairdryer (but I have not tried that yet).

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#3- PICK BREATHABLE FABRICS

Wearing breathable fabrics is so important especially when you are sitting in a jeep underneath the scorching African sun!

Cotton, rayon, and linen are very breathable but not moisture-wicking.

Nylon and polyester wick moisture, but the breathability depends on the weave.

Merino wool is not just for winter but is also used for summer clothing because it breathes well and wicks moisture. For me, it’s a little itchy even with the fine weaves, but I have super sensitive skin.

For shirts, specifically look for a vented back with mesh lining, which allows for breathability. Also, another great feature to look for is roll-up sleeve tabs.  

To stay cool, some pants are convertible where you can zip off the pant legs or roll them up and snap them in place.

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#4- PICK UPF 40+ RATED CLOTHING

Most people know what an SPF number means for sunscreen, but they may not be familiar with UPF ratings for fabrics.

The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)  number shows how much UVA + UVB radiation a fabric permits to penetrate your skin.

Look for a UPF 50, which blocks 98% of the UV radiation.  Also, look for shirts where you can pop the collar up. Your neck will thank you.  

For some reason, Americans always think (myself included!) to wear less when it is hot; whereas cultures in Asia and the Middle East tend to cover up in the heat. 

I know it seems counterintuitive to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, but you will be glad you did when you are baking in the sun and fighting off mosquitos and tsetse flies. 

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#5- AVOID THESE COLORS

Tsetse flies love black and dark blue, so do not wear those colors while on safari. Otherwise, you can get a nasty bite and possibly African sleeping sickness if the fly has been infected with a parasite.

I asked my safari guides about the tsetse fly while we were in South Africa, and they had no idea what I was talking about. I found out later that is because this fly is not present in South Africa!

If you are in Tanzania or any other country, do not wear dark blue or black clothing/shoes and keep those ankles covered.

South Africa though has NO tsetse flies, so it is okay to wear black and dark blue there. However, dark colors absorb heat, so you may feel hotter if you choose to wear them. 

Never wear camouflage since that type of clothing is identified with the military.

Also, a lot of guides will say not to wear white because it will get dirty quickly.

This may be true in other countries when driving out on wide-open plains, but honestly, I wore a white shirt twice while in Sabi Sands in South Africa and had no problems with getting really dirty. 

I would avoid white though on a walking safari because it does make you stand out. 

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#6- DRESS IN LAYERS

When we went to Sabi Sands at the end of September, the weather was VERY cold for the morning safari (I was layered up) and hot for the afternoon safari (I was stripping down).  

If you are like me whose body does not regulate temperature very well, you will be happy you have layers to account for all temperature situations.

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#7- KHAKI NOT REQUIRED

You really do NOT have to wear khaki for your safari outfit UNLESS you are doing a walking safari, and then by all means wear those browns/tans to blend in. 

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#8- PACK LIGHT

Most lodges offer laundry services. Take advantage, so then you can pack less. I’ll be honest, I am horrible about “packing light.”

That is one reason why I love Anatomie clothing! I can bring more because it weighs hardly anything.   

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#9- BE AWARE OF LUGGAGE WEIGHT LIMITS

Be aware there are luggage weight limits on the little planes that take you to and from your safari destination. We flew with South Africa Airlink, and the weight allowance was 20 kg or 44 pounds.

Remember you need room for all of that lovely South African wine you are going to bring back! We toured multiple wineries in the Cape Winelands before we headed to Sabi Sand and stored them in wine sleeves in our luggage.

Wine or clothes? Wine always wins.

Final Thoughts

There you have it.

My top safari clothes for women.

Most articles I have read just provide another generic list. I hope my more detailed explanations of what I personally wore will make your safari experience more comfortable and memorable.

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REACH OUT, FOLLOW, OR SHARE THIS POST WITH A FRIEND!

Any other safari clothes for women that I missed or that you would recommend?

Let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments
  1. Ann

    2 weeks in zambia. I brought 2 prs of these https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/86735?page=vista-camp-pants and lived in them Every Morning!!!! I had to have the neutral color so went with toasted almond. I had to wash a pair once because I forgot to put them in the laundry. and they were dry within a couple of hours. Crazy comfortable, good pockets for extra camera batteries, lens cover, etc. Vista Camp Pants. Love them.

    Reply
    • Nichole

      Thanks so much for sharing! I’m excited to try those out. They look super comfortable!!!

      Reply

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