What to Pack for an Overland Safari in Africa

The chance to experience an overland safari in Africa is a bucket list dream for many people, myself included. The mere idea of seeing elephants, lions, hippos, and more in their natural habitat had me shaking with excitement, so I decided to set off for a trip through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia this June. While you may envision someone covered head to toe in khaki safari clothes and a gigantic hat, you’d be surprised to know, save for a few tourists I saw in Botswana, no one actually dresses like that on safari. So, how should you decide what to pack?

Consider the countries you’re visiting and time of year
The peak season for safari in southern Africa is during the dry season – namely June, July, and August – which also happens to be winter in the southern hemisphere. While the sun keeps things warm during the day (think temps in the 70s), the nights are a different story. The farther south on the continent, the colder it will be at night and in the morning, so come prepared. I brought the KUHL Flight Jacket and Firefly Hoody with me, and the combination was perfect for early morning game drives on open air trucks!

Ready for the next wildlife sighting. Pictured in Firefly Hoody and MØVA Skinny Pant

Think about your accommodations
Camping is extremely popular for people traveling through Africa; that’s how I traveled as well. If you’re camping, warm clothing is even more important for evenings and early mornings. While the tents help keep you warm, I recommend bringing a light thermal layer like the Alva Thermal for layering.

Gliding through waters of Okavango Delta. Pictured in Krush Pant

Plan for comfort
No matter where or how you’ll be staying, overlanding in Africa requires a lot of drive time. The continent is huge, and the distance between countries and national parks is large. Plan to spend a lot of time in the car or your overland vehicle, and dress for comfort. Here, your color choices don’t matter (no need to worry about scaring the animals away), and you can even get away with your “regular” clothes. I personally found it helpful to layer my clothing since mornings started out cold on our overland vehicle and we heated up throughout the day. My go-to outfit was a pair of MOVA Skinny Pants, a tank top, and the Glyder LS top as a removable layer.

Elephants on safari! Pictured in Glydr LS

Bring one true safari outfit
While you generally won’t need to restrict your color choices if you’re sticking to game drives, make sure to pack at least one outfit with natural colors, just in case. Think khaki/tan, green, grey, brown, and the like. If you’re going to an area with highly sensitive wildlife or open spaces, your guide may recommend that you wear natural colors to avoid attracting attention and scaring off the animals. While you don’t need to dress like “Safari Jane” all the time, it’s good to be prepared!

The sun sets over Africa. Pack light, natural colors, like the Glydr LS in Sage, for safari.

Space is often limited on overland vehicles, so packing lightweight, breathable clothing that washes and dries quickly is important. I used a backpack for my gear, and it was a great choice – the soft sides made it easy to squeeze into the luggage compartments. Packed in my bag were:

If packing for the trip of a lifetime in Africa seems overwhelming, don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be! Stick to breathable, lightweight clothing that packs small and layers well, and you’ll be just fine. Luckily, KUHL has a ton of great options to help you choose!

 

Danielle Cemprola

Danielle Cemprola is a 50-time marathoner, world traveler, and lover of mountains everywhere. She spends 80% of her money on plane tickets and the remaining portion on race registrations and tacos. Follow her adventures at The T-Rex Runner.