A safari shirt can limit your wildlife spotting opportunities on a trip to Africa if you happen to choose the wrong one.
Elephant Sees Red
My wife and I (more about us) went for a walking safari in Botswana and happened to come across a group of elephants feeding.
We wanted to go closer but the guide whispered urgently that my wife was to remain where she was. The reason...she was wearing a red top.
Red, white and other bright colours make you stand out like a sore thumb to the animals in the African bush.
It's much better to blend in so pick khaki, olive or brown garments which also have the added advantage of being less conspicious when it comes to dust and dirt buildup. Of course, if you aren't going to be walking in the bush but spend most of the time driving then the colours are of less importance.
Safari Shirt Material
I've been on many safari trips and for me the most important consideration when it comes to clothing is that it must be comfortable. The fabric used in the garments manufacture has a big effect on this.
Cotton used to be the fabric of choice for an African trip but advances in the design and manufacture of synthetic materials have improved them to the point where they stack up very well to the natural fibre.
Some contain materials like Ripstop which increase their strength but not their weight, which is important due to the luggage restrictions on flights to, and within Africa.
Synthetics also tend to dry quicker after washing and they crease less, which is a plus factor when you are on the go all the time as is likely on a safari. The ability to wick moisture away from the body is also very advantageous as you are going to be doing a fair amount of sweating due to the heat.
You can also get garments that have built in ultraviolet protection to shield against the harmful effects of the sun, rated by SPF factor just like sunblock creams, and treated with bug repellant chemicals to keep the insects away.
Both these features are a wonderful advantage but in my opinion not essential for safari clothing so I don't consider it a deal breaker if they don't have these two characteristics.
How Many to Take With
For a safari of duration one week or longer you can pack two or three short sleeve and two or three long sleeved safari shirts. For a shorter duration trip adjust the quantity accordingly. You can wear the long sleeved ones at night when it can get a little chilly and to protect your arms from mosquito bites.