Safari trips are amazing adventures! And so was our Masai Mara safari in Kenya. However, in order to fully enjoy your African holidays, it’s important to know what to wear on safari to feel comfortable. Below you can find the necessary safari packing list, that will help you decide on what to pack for safari in Kenya (or any other African country).
Items that you pack for safari in Kenya can greatly help on your trip. Good safari clothes will protect you from the sun, red African dust and the coldness of the mornings/afternoons, at the same time helping you to blend in with nature. Safari accessories let you capture all the amazing African safari animals, that you can see and not worry about anything else.
What to pack for safari in Kenya?
What to wear on safari – clothes to pack for the safari in Kenya
The best clothes to wear on a safari should be light, breathable and in neutral colours. They also need to be adjustable for both cold and hot temperatures, as those can change quite rapidly in Africa.
The temperatures on the safari in Kenya can be hot during the day and then quite chilly and even cold during the night/early morning/evening. During our hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara, we needed to wake up very early around 3 am and drive to the starting point. Man, it was chilly. I was wearing a jumper, a Gore-tex jacket, a scarf, and a hat and gloves and I was so glad I had them all. Layers are a great way to keep your luggage light but allow you to stay warm.
The colours of the African safari clothes would preferably need to be neutral. The best way to get close to the wildlife is to blend in as much as possible. Go for the earth colours like brown, khaki, beige. Do not wear too light coloured clothes like white, as they can quickly get dirty due to the red African dust. Avoid also very bright red colours and dark blue, which can attract the Tsetse fly. For the evening clothes, if you stay inside of your camp or resort, focus on the light-coloured fabrics to not to attract the mosquitoes.
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#1 Long-sleeved shirt
Long-sleeved shirts are the best items to wear on safari! I was using my long-sleeved shirts all-the-time. I do not normally wear them at home, but as a safari clothing, they were perfect. Especially in the earthy, khaki colours. They are usually light and airy, so they can protect you from the sun, and also warm you up when it is a bit chilly and protect from insect bites.
#2 Long airy pants
For the same reason as for long sleeved shirt, long, loose and comfortable pants are great to have in Africa. I loved my thin jumpsuit and some loose pants that I got from my previous trips to Asia.
#3 A fleece and a light jacket
It might not be the obvious thing, but it does get cold in Africa. The evenings and early mornings can be very chilly. If you are planning to do the hot air balloon safari, you would need to wake up in the middle of the night and wait on the field watching the balloons being prepared. It is cold, so bring some warm clothes with you.
#4 A few safari shirts or t-shirts
The best are short-sleeved T-shirts, so you have your shoulders covered from the sun. If you like vests (I do!), you can always cover your shoulders and neck with a scarf. The button-down tops made from a breathable material (try microfibre or linen) are good too.
#5 Safari pants – shorts or convertible trousers
During the day of our hot air balloon ride, I had all my warm clothes on, in the early morning. Later on, when we joined the safari tour, the sun started to go higher up and it became very hot. That’s when I changed into my shorts and lighter clothes (it was easier as we stopped for lunch and everyone left the car). Normally, this would not be possible. In that case, the convertible trousers are the best option. They are also perfect for any walking safaris, or hikes in the jungle, that we did on Madagascar.
#6 Safari shoes – comfortable trainers or sport sandals
Trainers are a good choice for most of the time, but if you want to have a bit more airy feel during the hot African day, you can take sports sandals. The best are the ones with the supportive sole. It’s useful for a bush walk and helps to not to slip in the car when you stand in the driving vehicle to see more (which I kept doing ;)). In any case, the shoes need to be comfortable!
#7 Wide-brim hat
Even though you spend most of the time on the safari in the vehicle, the sun can peek through the roof and shine directly on you. The wide-brim hat is perfect to protect you from the sun and to cover your neck in order to avoid any burns. It’s also a necessity for any walking safaris.
Sun in Africa can be very strong, so protect your eyes and get proper sunglasses! A good idea is to take two pairs, in case one of them gets broken. I recommend to leave your fancy designer sunglasses at home and take something durable and less flashy.
#9 A scarf
Always useful – for protection from cold, for covering shoulders from the sun or from mosquitoes.
Other items to pack for safari in Kenya (or any other African country)
#1 Camera with a zoom lens
We all want to have beautiful photos that will keep our memories alive. For African safari, I can highly recommend a mirrorless camera, which is also great for any other type of trips. In the safari car, there is not too much space, especially if you share it with other people. Therefore, you want to limit the size and amount of equipment that you take with you.
For our Masai Mara safari trip, I took my Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera with Fuji zoom lens 50-230 mm, F 4.5-6.7 Zoom lens is a necessity because even though you get pretty close to the animals, there are still several meters that are between you and them. I also took my Samyang 12 mm lens in order to get wider shots, very useful for catching the size of the Great Migration and hot air balloon safari.
#2 Good sunscreen
I usually take a separate suncream for my face and another one for the body. My face suncream has been always been Anthelios from La Roche Posay, I really like Anthelios Dermo Kids, but I also wanted to try Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. They are both very light, easily applicable and they don’t make my mixed skin any more problematic – rather otherwise.
For the body, I like to use minimum SPF 30, for example, Anthelios Cooling Water-Lotion Sunscreen 30, but even 50 is good for Africa if you have a delicate skin.
#3 Mosquito spray
Kenya is in the malaria zone, so it is very important to prevent the mosquito bites. When we were staying in Masai Mara safari camp, there were not so many mosquitoes, but it also depends on the weather and the time of the year. Better be safe than sorry. I can recommend the mosquito sprays with min 50% DEET as the most effective for tropical climates. This one is the strongest I’ve seen with 100% DEET, but there are also the lighter options.
A good idea is also to take the insect treatment for gear and clothing. You can spray it on your shoes or around the ankles, hands or neck to protect them from bites.
#4 Camera accessories
Additional batteries, several memory cards, SD card reader, tripod, charger. I recommend taking several memory cards of different sizes instead of one bigger one. This is in case something happens to the card – it’s better to at least have another one and save part of the photos rather than lose everything. You can check what camera accessories I use here.
#5 Travel adapter
Kenya uses British plugs, so if you don’t come from the country using the same ones, you’d need a travel adapter. I can recommend the “all in one” travel adapter, that can be used around the world. I use one like this and it’s a life saver, especially if you visit several countries with different plugs in one trip (as we did during our East African trip, covering Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda!).
You definitely don’t want your phone or accessories to run out of battery during the game drive. The small power bank is a life saver. A flashlight is also useful at night if you stay in the tented accommodation, as it can be dark in places.
#7 First aid kit
Safaris are trips to the national parks, that are typically located out of the main cities. The exception is the Nairobi National Park in Kenya. Normally, you would be living in quite remote areas for several days. Take all your prescribed medications with you and add some extra. Take the regular first aid kit items, including the Malaria prevention medications, diarrhoea and allergy medication. For the example of my ultimate light carry on packing list have a look here.
Take and drink plenty of water during the safari in Africa. It’s very easy to forget about it when you are busy admiring the animals, but it’s very important. You can bring one of the environmentally friendly insulated water bottles with you that keep the water nice and cool for a long time.
What else would you pack for safari in Kenya? Do you have any recommendations on what to wear on safari? Let me know in the comments!
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