The safari clothing mistakes list below has been compiled from my own personal experience obtained by going on over 100 safaris (including self drives), combined with the opinions in trip report reviews submitted by many other travellers here on the African Safari Journals website (I've read most of them).
#1: Wearing "Hollywood style" and/or camouflage safari outfits. Normal, comfortable fitting, neutral coloured clothes are what you need to be taking with.
Light, strong, breathable garments are ideal, especially the ones that have moisture wicking properties, either synthetics or cotton.
#2: Bright coloured clothing should be avoided and white clothes will show up dust and dirt. Khaki, brown and olive colours top the list.
Red and white makes you very conspicuous to the wildlife especially on a walking safari. If you are going to be spending most of your time in the safari vehicle then the colors really don't make that much of a difference.
#3: Don't take blue or black clothes especially to Eastern Africa. This is due to the tsetse fly (or tzetze) which is attracted to dark colours and can give you a nasty bite as they feed on blood just like mosquitoes.
Safari destinations where the flies are commonly encountered are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. You will rarely find them in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
#4: Not packing something warm. Although the days in Africa can be blisteringly hot the temperatures will sometimes drop sharply at nights and in the early mornings.
This is especially important if you are going to be travelling in an open sided safari vehicle. Pack a jersey, pullover or safari jacket.
#5: Don't go without a safari hat. Safari hats are essential to ward of the African sun and protect you from sunburn. Even a short exposure time is long enough to get burnt during the heat of the day.
#6: Packing in your heavy walking boots is unnecessary, unless you are doing a walking safari. Simple lightweight safari shoes/trainers (non white) or sandals/sports sandals are more sensible.
#7: Packing too much safari attire. You will not need more than 2 or 3 comfortable short sleeved safari shirts and the same amount of long sleeved tops. There are laundry facilities available at most game reserves and parks in Africa, unless you are going to be really roughing it, either done by the lodge itself or self serve.
Also pack 2 or 3 (each) comfortable shorts and long trousers. Long trousers and a long sleeved safari shirt can be worn at night to stay warm and protect from mosquito bites and safari vests are great to carry all the essential gear with you.
#8: Putting everything in your suitcase. It's an unfortunate fact in Africa today that suitcases do go missing on the flight over, either through bad logistics or just plain theft. Sometimes the luggage is only delayed and travellers get it all back or with only a few items missing, but in many cases the luggage is never retrieved.
That's why it's important to pack essential and valuable items in carry-on luggage when you board a flight including a set of African safari clothing, otherwise you will be left with only what you are wearing if your suitcase disappears.
#9: Going too formal. Most safari destinations have a very relaxed dress code for dinner so there is no need to pack formal dress. Check with your travel agent to make sure but in most cases it just won't be necessary.
#10: Don't forget to bring your safari sunglasses. The African light can be harsh and you're going to be spending a lot of time staring into the veld looking for, and at wildlife, so a pair of polarizing shades will stand you in good stead and give your eyes a bit of a rest.
#11: Neglecting to layer. Africa is a continent of extremes, it can be freezing cold in the morning and boiling hot by midday. So it's a good idea to wear cool garments as your first layer and then you can remove the warmer outer layers once things start heating up, as they almost always tend to do later in the day.
This is a pretty specialised niche and there are less than a handful of safari wear shops that have got it right, providing specialised safari clothes for women, men and children.
The one that I always recommend is Orvis as they have high quality, durable apparel and stores in numerous countries worldwide so there is a good chance that you will find one near you.
Here is the US based Orvis store, and the nice thing about shopping there is that they ship to 99 countries, so they will probably be able to deliver where you are.
And this is the Orvis store for those of you staying in the UK.
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