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African Safari 2007
CLOTHES FOR SAFARI

CLOTHING SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR SAFARI

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What type of clothes should I take on safari?
When on safari it is best to wear gray, brown or khaki colored clothing during the months July through October, and green clothing during the months November through June so as not to alert wildlife of your presence. White & other bright colors are definitely not recommended (blue actually attracts tsetse flies!). Camouflage clothing is not allowed.
Bring comfortable clothes that are cool, but that can layer to keep you warm at night or on game drives. It is also advisable to bring a pair of sandals, comfortable walking shoes, a swimsuit, and a hat to block the sun.

Be prepared for dust. The amount of dust you will get is as amazing as the wild life you will see. For clothes, you would want those that do not look too bad with a lot of dust, easy to wash and dry.

Fellow tourists wore anything and everything and did just fine. Dirt was a problem in some areas, but in general clothing choise doesn't matter as you are inside the vehicle all day. Purchasing khaki clothing for the trip is not necessary (as we know now).

Game drives take place first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon, before and after the sun is up, so the temperature can be a lot colder than you expect. We all felt the cold. From experience I knew what to expect and packed accordingly, but not everyone had enough warm clothes with him or her. The camp provides blankets, but a woolly hat will keep your head warm, gloves stops your hands from getting cold and an anorak will keep the wind out. A scarf is a good idea too.


We brought very little and it was still too much! We always travel with carryon luggage only & never check bags. We each have a 22-inch rolling bag from Eagle Creek, which fits into overhead bins, and then we each also carry a backpack, which fits, under the seat in front of us. We have always found this to be more than enough. Every trip we make a list of the things we brought that we didn't wear or need. You really only need 3 changes of clothes because you can have laundry done pretty much everyplace. I brought 5 changes of clothes, and there were 2 long-sleeved shirts and 2 pairs of pants that I never wore. It is good to have layers. Dress is very casual even at dinner.

Muted colors are best, but they can be outside the standard olive drab!

Footwear is flexible. You don't need special hiking boots or anything. These will only make your feet warmer! You can wear sandals (teva, etc.) We didn't, but you can, and have no fear of critters chewing on them. Remember, though, your feet will get dirty if you do!

7/28-In addition to the usual stuff, a few things I would definitely take on my next safari:

1) ear plugs -- animals are loud at night. after the first nite of "oh, isn't this cool/romantic!", it's nice to have a good sleep.

2) bandana -- to cover up my hair and wear under my hat. It's really dusty and hair quickly becomes disgusting. The water pressure is not great if you have a lot of hair, plus there were days where we spent so much time on drives that I literally couldn't find time to wash my hair!

3) Cipro -- though I never got sick in Africa, I did recently have a problem when visiting India. Boy, was I happy I had Cipro! Better safe than sorry. After that experience, I will never travel w/o it to developing countries.

ExOffico undies were the saving grace for underwear! We both loved ours and wouldn't trade it. As few places will launder women's undies, washing these things over and over, they dried quickly, and wore beautifully!

In terms of NICE clothes...leave them at home. Dress up your daywear with costume jewelry or a scarf. I am a fashion girl and I was amazed that I could care less about what I was wearing and more interested in its function and warmth. NO ONE was dressed up at our resorts (we stayed at all CCAFRICA resorts, which are pretty luxurious...and it didn't matter at all!)

Sandals are must. Fleece and hat are needed for Ngorongoro at night.

I think I brought 4 T-shirts, but I changed those more frequently than anything else did because I wore them constantly under other layers. Often it was chilly in the mornings/evenings but hot in the afternoon. We camped 2 nights and stayed in lodges the rest of the time. Had our laundry done once (what a pleasure!)?

I am going to Kenya and Tanzania this August and I plan to bring very little in the way of clothes. You just don't need more than a couple of pairs of shorts, bathing suit, socks, one or two long sleeved shirts, two or three T-shirts, the bandanas, good sunglasses, loads of film, good camera with at least 200 mm lens, hat is a must.

You are close to the equator, so mostly the weather will be warm. However, the Crater rim, is really cold. I had a scarf and a sweater on, so if you're planning to sit outside, a scarf/hat/gloves combo would be fine with a sweater/windbreaker in February.

In the afternoons in E. Africa in late Feb/March there can be rainshowers so bring a rainjacket for you and plastic trash bag to put your camera in.
Just got my TAG safari shirt (closeout for $18), Tilley's hat ($75), Buzz-Off pants and shirts (6 @ $50/$60 each), Travel Vest from Sierra Trading (6 @ $50 each great place), matching North Face Gore-Tex shoes for all 3 of us ($350), Columbia quick dry T-shirts (3 @ $20 each), even quick dry socks and underwear! Everything is either khaki or British tan. We didn't want to take a chance with the tese-tese flies by wearing blue so we went for it!

The best thing I did was to put my clothes in zip-lock bags, which kept them clean at least until I, put them on.

A Gore-Tex jacket is good.

It can be quite chilly and windy when the vehicles take off in search of animals - socks, a scarf, hat or headband and gloves can only help and don't weigh much. Better to have, then be uncomfortable during these drives. It's not necessary to bring your own umbrella as most places provide these to get around camps or lodge properties.

Take good shoes and make sure they are not brand new -- break them in first. A GOOD PAIR OF SNEEKERS AND SANDLES ARE ALL YOU NEED. As a matter of fact, I find it most comfortable to wear sandals in the vehicle rather than closed toed shoes (unless I know I'm going to be doing some light hiking/walking as well).

Sports bra for wife due to bumpy travel?

Take blouses that have patterns, not solid colors. Look for medium weight fabrics that are 50&50 - mix of cotton and polyester.

We never wore anything fancy to dinner and never felt uncomfortable-very very few people were not wearing safari gear at meals. Basically, everyone is pretty wiped out from all day game viewing. And whatever is clean and comfy will do the trick.

Nobody "dresses" for dinner, but if you feel you want to, black slacks with a great sweater, or your safari clothing with a great scarf or costume jewelry will work fine. Remember that the evenings will be chilly, so you'll need a jacket or sweater on top of whatever you wear. And don't be surprised to find a hot-water bottle in your bed when you return to your room/tent when it's time to retire for the evening.

Zip off pants was the best items I packed. When we left on a game drive at 6am, it was a little cool. By the time we returned, the bottoms were zipped off.

One thing I would suggest is to pack 2 light jackets. I really wished I had done that. You get incredibly dusty/dirty on the game drives, and it's nice to not always be in the same dirty outerwear.

I had one sweatshirt with me and I wished I took two so I could wash one and wear another one.

Patagonia silk-weight long sleeve shirts worked wonderfully in the heat - they breathe well and give you some sun protection. I'm not a fan of the heavier weight & more expensive Exofficio safari shirts.

Take 1 long print skirt (say, in rayon) along with 1 semi-dressy top that goes with it, for dress up. Take a scarf or two. Leave ALL, and I mean ALL, good jewelry at home. Leave your diamond rings at home; wear a simple wedding band. Be on the alert for pickpockets, especially in larger towns. Wear a money belt around your waist underneath your pants. Put only what money you expect to spend in a day and can afford to lose in your front pocket or purse. Wear your long-strapped purse slant-wise across your body; not just from one shoulder. Keep your passport, credit card, airline tickets, etc. in a money belt worn under your pants. Don't wear a 'fanny' belt type purse; quick slit with a knife and it's gone.

I brought a very lightweight gore tex jacket and it was great. Next time I will bring TWO.

We packed very light and were glad. We each brought 3 T-shirts, 2 pairs pants, 2 button down cotton shirts, 4 pairs socks, and 4 pairs underwear, a fleece jacket, a pair long underwear (used as PJs), a Tilley had (so worth it!), and six bandanas. All were in neutral colors (it looked like we never changed!). We did laundry as needed (usually spending about $7) as it was available everywhere, though I sometimes washed in the sink with my travel bottle of Tide for the smaller items.

* We each had two pairs of quick dry pants for the trip & that worked great. Exofficio & Royal Robbins make nice pants with hidden zippered pockets that are great for travel.

I wish I had taken more warm weather clothes. I was prepared for very cool evenings that never happened.

I could have used a second long-sleeve top. I did have a beige cardigan, which became my uniform for the plane, mornings, evenings.

I did forget to mention a fashion statement that was popular with women as well as men.... The safari vest. It was so handy to carry everything because you really do not want to leave the important things in your room. We did not have one, but rather wished we did. (On the hottest day, I think they would be warm to wear.)

Take bandanas for keeping your neck warm on frigid morning drives, protection from the sun and dust, and to use as emergency bad hair day accessories.

Take two or three pair of shoes. One pair of good walking shoes (cross trainers or the like) these should be shoes that you don't mind getting muddy or dirty. Hiking boots are much too warm for this climate and you really won't hike anywhere. One pair of substantial sandals - something cool, but something that you won't stub your toe in or mind walking on dusty paths in. One pair of comfortable flats for dressing up a bit (could be same sandals). Ladies, you will never need heels.

Take a warm, light-weight, wool sweater. I used this one item almost every morning and evening.

Take a large brim hat. I took a hiking style hat with about a 3 inch brim and wished I'd had a little larger brimmed one. (Most of the tour companies give everyone a "safari" hat upon arrival, but there's a good chance it won't fit.) A hat made of cloth is best so that you can easily flip up the brim for game viewing through binoculars or camera. Also make sure the hat is secure so that it won't blow off your head while standing up in the game vehicles trying to spot animals.

Take a very light weight, light colored, long sleeve shirt for sun protection while on game drives. Many times it was very hot, but I needed to have arms and neck covered for sun protection.

Take a light-weight, water-proof wind breaker style jacket. Layered over your sweater this is sufficient warmth for the entire trip.

Some camps will do laundry for free, others charge. But you can get it done everywhere - so pack accordingly. The service is good and inexpensive. This is much easier than lugging around a full suitcase. You'll be surprised how wardrobe standards diminish during the trip. No one cares that they've seen you in the same clothes everyday or that nothing is ever pressed or that you'll wear things with a little dirt on it. They'll all be doing the same thing.

We used our multi-pocket safari style vest everyday. So did everyone else we encountered. They are wonderful for photo equipment and valuables.

We wore either the vest or a fanny pack with our passports, airline tickets and money inside at all times - even to meals. Do this. One of our traveling companions had $300 stolen from his pack at Larsen's Camp. It was done during a meal and in a very professional way. Don't take chances.


Don't bother taking a hair dryer. You won't be able to use it in camp. The hotels will provide them, but they won't plug in anywhere near a mirror, so get a hair style that doesn't require this kind of upkeep.

You won't use much make-up. But you will use a lot of moisturizer and hand creme.

Put on your evening dinner make-up before it gets dark. Most tents don't have good electric lights. Its very difficult to do hair and make-up by gas lanterns, candles or a lamp that is across the room from the mirror.

Take a very good pair of polarizing sun glasses - maybe two.

QUESTION

How important is it really to wear khaki colored clothes on safari? I have some tans, browns and greens, but lots more of black, white and other colors. Do I really need to be so conscious of my wardrobe coloring?

ANSWERS

Well, it all depends on what kind of safari you plan on doing.

If you go on a walking safari, some guides will ask you to wear khakis, so as not to scare the animals, but otherwise, I have never had a guide in a jeep that told us we could not wear colors on safari.

With the exception of wearing white on game walks which some guides may object to... wear what you have. Even the statement often seen to stay away from blue is questionable, as I've seen many guides and camp personnel wearing blue (navy).

At many local villages (in/around the Serengeti, Mara, etc.) in you will find locals/tribes people wearing every color imaginable. And the Masai wear Red!

You should, however, avoid flowing clothing and clunky/noisy jewelry, and, of course, perfume. Try to stick with the neutrals (as you mentioned you have), but if Black is neutral for you, no need to not wear this. That said, the problem with Black is that it holds heat, so you're better off with lighter colors. But leave the bright pinks and/or oranges at home.

It's the paler blues one should stay away from as they are appealing to Tsetse flies - Other than that, rather than go all khaki it's best just to avoid bright colors, particularly large blocks of bright colors that would not normally occur in nature and might spook animals.

Avoid bright white, any bright solid colors and stick to the more muted items in your wardrobe plus browns, greens, beige’s etc.

In East Africa, the tsetse’s love to sit on black and are somewhat attracted to dark blue so when you drive through a low-lying areas in the woods you may get bothered most!

Beige was the best color of cloths to have. I am glad that I put the effort into having mostly beige. Red shows up in the distance more that I could have imagined.

For the most part we wore, 2 pair of shorts, 2 pair of long pants, 3 tee shirts, 2 sleeveless/short sleeve shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, a sweater, safari vest, windbreaker, hat, 3 pair shoes and underwear for about 3 days. You can wash out almost anything by hand and it will dry in an hour.

 

 

Take a lightweight, waterproof windbreaker style jacket. Layered over your sweater this is sufficient warmth for the entire trip.

I bought a great safari vest, which I lived in, at Eddie Bauer's, which was less than $30. I bought Columbia shorts and shirts at TJMaxx and Marshall’s for under $10 each. We just got back from our trip. I used 3-4 tee shirts; 1 pants/shorts convertible; 1 knee length shorts; 1 long beige pants, 1 beige pants that rolled up to be capri length. I brought 3 shirts and 2 tank tops to wear under them. I had a long sleeved beige sweater, which I wore on the morning game drives. And I picked up a black pants/jacket knit outfit at Wal-Mart for under $30, which I wore on the plane, and at dinner with one of the shirts. And that was more than enough for the 15 day safari we had. Most camps will offer very cheap laundry. The Columbia shirts dried fast, so I could sink-wash them if necessary.

My 2 favorite things were the vest; kept money, passports, sunscreen, glasses, etc. in the pockets; and the beige cardigan sweater, which I could layer over the shirts and under the vest in the mornings and evening drives.

You will not need, as many outfits as you think you will. No one notices what you wear, and people did not dress for dinner anywhere.

NEW--1/20/06--(THIS PERSON WENT ON HIS SAFARI IN  LATE DECEMBER AND EARLY JANUARY)  Temperatures were quite a bit warmer than we thought they would be (official published temperatures are measured in the shade) – out of the shade they were well into the 30’s and a sun hat and sun-screen is essential. Also include lip sun-screen. I lived in short pants and would suggest at least 3 or 4 pairs as they get dirty quite quickly. I also took about 6 short sleeved golf-type shirts. My wife wore Khaki and brown cropped pants and tee-shirts and we each had 2 sets of smarter wear for dinner use. Whilst the preferred clothing colour is neutral we found that people wore any and every colour imaginable. Most of the time is spent inside the vehicle so colour is not that important to the animals. Sandals were worn every day by both of us. Take one pair of good walking shoes if there is any chance of going on a game-walk. One pullover or sweat-shirt is all you need at this time of year – mainly for use at the crater-top. Bathing trunks were used a few times

NEW-3/14-

Packing

We like to travel light, well, light on clothing, so that we have more room for gadgetry. We did buy some new clothing for this trip, but because we shopped in the fall most of the stuff we wanted was in the outlet sections of Backcountry, Ex Officio, and REI.


We were told to stick to neutral colors, especially since dark colors attract the dreaded tse tse flies - carriers of trypanosomiasis, a.k.a. African sleeping sickness - not really sure what it is but we knew that we didn't want to catch it. We also learned about "performance clothing" - i.e., moisture wicking, quick drying, wrinkle-free, bug repellent (when possible), breathable, etc. Our clothing strategy was to wear one outfit, pack 2 days worth of clothes, and have laundry done frequently along the way. You can view our packing list here. Wouldn't change a thing clothing-wise, we did look like safari idiots, but we were relatively comfortable.

As was mentioned, no need for a hair dryer. Hair can air dry midday when it is quite warm. That's when you'll be showering.

I would agree; forget the hairdryer. Most places won't have the amps for that. You'll need a good, wide-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap) and will have "hat hair" anyway. Hey, you're on safari!

6/24--THE PACKING:
As you all know, I had quite a time with this one. In April, a huge box from Micato arrived. In it was a well-made, huge, green duffle bag for each of us to use; a wonderful flashlight; an “America Shares” bag, luggage tags and a personalized detailed safari destination/itinerary book for us.
The America Shares bag is a program that Micato runs separately. They support an orphanage in the Mukuru slums in Nairobi. They send the bag out to those who request it – we in turn fill it full of stuff that they need (a list is sent with the bag), such as kids and babies clothing, toys, school supplies, medicines, toiletries, etc. – pretty well anything kids will need, new or used, or whatever. We then take it with us on the plane as one piece of our checked baggage, store it in the Nairobi Hotel while we are on safari, and then take it to the orphanage after we get back to Nairobi from the safari. More details on that will be in my report as it was a very moving experience.
My problem though was with packing our one duffle bag each. The well-made very heavy zippered bag in itself weighed 8 lbs. See the thread below for details of what I took:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4&tid=34802443
So, that left 25 lbs. each, and that very exciting day of “oh my gosh, we are going to Africa today!” was spent weighing and re-weighing each article of clothing or item to see what would go and what wouldn’t as we were both SERIOUSLY overweight. I started this at 7 am on the morning we were to leave (at 8 pm that night), by noon, I was pretty well in tears wondering how I could cut it down anymore when Fran (Micato representative) phoned to wish us Bon Voyage. “Don’t worry”, she said as I sobbed the overweight blues to her, “take what I think we will need, it will all work out”. A voice from heaven I thought! My bag weighed 40 lbs., Jim’s weighed 41 lbs., and that is what we went with.
All of the clothes that I listed went (they weighed 13lbs), but in the ‘things’ list, I cut things here and there to cut down on the weight. As you can all imagine, the ultra tiny coffee maker and coffee did NOT go. (Yes, Dennis, the tiny stapler and the tiny tape did go- more on that later!)

WHAT WORKED & WHAT DIDN’T ON THE PACKING LIST:
Here is a good place I think to tell everyone a few highlights of what I thought worked and didn’t work on my packing list ( I promise, I’ll TRY to be brief!)
I LIVED in the convertible pants. I had two pair, but only took one. I probably should have given something else up and taken both pair. Those convertibles owe me nothing – I bought them brand new for this trip over the internet. They are a smokey/olive green kind of colour which was ideal to hide the red dust/clay/coffee spots/food slops/etc. I literally wore them every day; they started out as pants every morning and usually ended up as shorts in the afternoon, to become pants again at night. Every two or three days (at the most, I promise…) I would rinse them out in the sink with the Magellan’s concentrated Sink Wash, hang them on my wonderful ‘stretchy-no-clothes-peg-twist clothes line’ from Magellan’s, and they would, without fail be dry and wrinkle free the next morning as they are almost like a nylon. They don’t look like nylon, but when I went to iron a new ‘hem’ down before I left, the material burnt like nylon. (lucky it was just on the old hem which I didn’t need).
I had enough tops, I felt I took the right number (4 t-shirts, 2 short sleeve shirts and 1 long sleeved shirt). The Tide-To-Go pen was a life saver here as I am slop. We sent our shirts out at least two or three times each for laundering at the lodges, it was cheap enough.
The Tilley safari vest was incredible too – it is light weight, not too many pockets so I didn’t feel like a marine in the field. I wore it every day, it was invaluable. I carried film (yes, I still use film), an extra camera battery, my point-and-shoot camera, my field notebook, a pen, sunglasses, a roll of Magellan’s toilet paper-to-go, some packets of sani-wipes, a very small first-aid kit (Imodium, After-bite, Neosporin and band-aids), ‘Off’ wipes and a small bottle of sunscreen. I wore a hidden wasitpouch for the money, an Amex card, a MC, a Visa and a bank card. I could have left the Amex at home, I didn’t use it, same with the Visa.
I didn’t use my Tilley hat – Jim used his all the time, but I liked the green “Micato” issued hat (it’s like a Tilley), I used it instead.
I used the fleece hoodie on a few occasions – Ngorongoro crater for the game run in the morning, as well as the evenings on the crater, the Mara in the morning for the balloon ride and one of the evenings in the Mara.
The packable rain/wind jacket that folds into its own pocket came in VERY handy in Zanzibar when it rained for 2 days solid. Tropical rains at that – it poured. Things sure are green there…

The ‘slippers’ (they are really Clarkes slip-on sandals) were invaluable when I had to wash my Mephisto walking sandals out which I wore every day. Three times I had to give my Mephisto’s a shower – once after visiting the Maasai village – it was authentic I could tell by the cow dung; once after trekking through the fish & live chicken market in Zanzibar; and once after slopping through the Mangrove forest in Zanzibar. Without those Clarke’s I would have been sunk as they took many hours to dry.
I should have left the Rockport closed in shoes, as well as the socks, at home – only saw the light of day for the Mara balloon ride and in retrospect the Mephisto sandals would have been fine. It really wasn’t that cold. I didn’t used the gloves either for the balloon ride, could have left them at home.
The 4 pair of quick dry underwear was a little tight – 6 pair would have been better, I felt like a scullerymaid washing underwear out every 2nd or 3rd night. The throw-away-undies worked great for the travel there and back days – a godsend.
I wish I would have had time to use the bathing suit and cover up, but I didn’t. I’d still bring it next time though.
The PJ’s were great – they were quick-dry from Magellan’s and they really did dry quick.
As for the THINGS (non-clothes):
Toiletries – the small wash cloth (many places didn’t have), hair conditioner, body wash & facial cleanser were needed, not needed was shampoo as all of the lodges & tents supplied this at least. Some places had conditioner and body wash, others didn’t.
OTC drug stuff – Contac C is all gone – Jim ended up with a cold that tried to start. Chapstick, band-aids, Neosporin and some antihistamine were used. Didn’t need the Visine, gravol, throat lozenges or Imodium.
Sun & Bug stuff – We only used the “off-wipes”, the Afterbite, the anti-itch cream (Benadryl brand) and the sunscreen – didn’t use anything else.
Bush Loo stuff – used one toilet paper dispenser toll (Magellans), and lots of Sani-wipes.
Laundry stuff- used the clothes line, the laundry sack, the tube of SinkWash and the Tide-To-Go pens extensively – invaluable.
Books & Writing stuff – used the animal field guide once but didn’t really need, 1 paperback book (not much time for reading), field notebook (my own), small tape, tiny stapler, white-out, small note cards for driver tips, small FX calculator and the plastic file pouch. Didn’t use anything else on my list.
Security stuff – used the colourful zap straps, the wire cutters to cut the straps extensively, the waist money pouch and the zippable document money holder, and the luggage locks for the camps/lodges. I’ll revist this subject later in my report…..
Comfort- Jim used his Magellan’s comfort ‘touche cushion’ extensively for the bumpy roads, I didn’t use mine at all.
Camera stuff – used it all – Jim took 2700 images on the Nikon – he said he would upload a select ‘few’ to the Kodak Gallery soon – but I’d give him a month to do this as there is so many!
Miscellaneous – used the Kleenex, binoculars, travel alarm clock, the converter, the adaptor plug and the multi plug outlet, lots of ziplocks, all of the ‘bubble wrap’ I brought, lots of extra batteries, the duct tape, the Micato flashlight, and the small basic sewing kit. Didn’t use, or didn’t bring (ditched before going) anything else on my list in that category.
The ‘candy result’ was a surprise to me – well, I did eat some, but I just didn’t have the craving to eat much of it - it was either too hot, or I was too busy, or just plain too full to eat those wine gums – could really have left that at home after all! And, never bring chocolate – I threw a bar in at the last moment and two weeks later discovered it melted all over the bottom of my carry-on bag! What a mess….



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