I sat and bit my fist as those girls came off their game drive, I tell you. They looked amazing. I stared and stared at them and thought “Jesus, yes – that is what I wanted to wear on safari.”
I was dressed like Indiana Jones (I’m almost always dressed like either Indiana Jones or Eddie Murphy c.1986) in khaki trousers and a shirt. But I was too hot. It was HOT out there, guys. And I was too hot.
And then these girls came in and I went “WOW” and my husband said “Are you insane? They look like mad old green crows” and I said “You know nothing. They look fabulous.”
They were American. And they had known, as I hadn’t, that the echt footwear on safari is a pair of dusky Palladium boots. I was wearing trainers, which was fine but… And then they all wore voluminous loose khaki dresses, neck scarves, proper safari hats and little round sunglasses. They looked just fantastic. And not too hot.
I always defer to trousers in case I’m required to do anything, but on a game drive you are generally not even allowed out of the truck let alone required to do anything, so god yes… why not a lovely loose skirt?
I know the chances of you needing to pack for a safari right now are very small, but here are my recommends for a superb safari outfit – should you suddenly have a safari dressing emergency you might remember I wrote this and refer back.
Palladium boots – everyone wears these out there, not just glamorous American girls. Last time I was doing anything major in Africa I needed climbing boots but they are a bit full-on for a 2-day safari. These boots are just right.
Loose green dress – these are kind of what I mean. You might have something already in your wardrobe, or spot something even better. It makes perfect sense. With shorts there is all the leg-admin and trousers are too bloody hot
Marvellous Safari hat by Fjallraven – and also because a hat that you can roll up and pack is the only hat you will not lose on holiday (or be arsed to even take).
Natty round sunglasses
Neutral scarf – this one is from Zara
We stayed at the Sassaab Lodge in Samburu and got there from Nairobi with Yellow Wings.
I am hugely tempted to go back just in order to be wearing the right clothes.
Any questions? Drop me a line.
Might order the hat for uhm camping in France!
Wish I’d had this when I went … I bought exensive, ill-fitting stuff from a safari clothes website then realised that everyone else was just wearing green chinos from Gap …duh. And I took black Chelsea boots. Hot hot hot.
Top tip – don’t wear too much blue/navy because flies love blue and can spot it a mile away. This I note is beginning to apply in the UK in the summer too.
Top tip no. 2: It can be very cold early in the morning when you leave the camp. I had a coat only because it was a bit chilly the day we left the UK – boy was I glad of it at 5am in the dark in central India in November.
I bet some American blogger is writing about that lady from London who nailed safari style while she felt she looked like a scout.
Hazel you’re kind but I doubt it
If I wore a big floaty dress on safari you bet I’d wish I’d gone for trousers at some point. Possibly as I became snagged on a tree whilst being chased by something large, or possibly if I saw someone else looking all tomboyish and capable like Laura Dern in Jurassic Park. The dress always looks greener on the other side of the…game drive.
CINDY YOU WILL NOT BE CHASED YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED OUTSIDE THE CAR
Don’t be getting all RATIONAL with me x
But I totally see why you went with the trousers! Not ever having been on safari I would’ve presumed some level of scrub scrambling and gone for them too. Do they not offer mozzie protection at least? There is no link to the green dresses – please could you put one in?
So Esther, tell me honestly, honestly… how bad are the insects?! Husband and I have talked about going on safari for some while now (even toyed briefly with Botswana for a honeymoon destination. Road-tripped up the Californian coastline instead – for reasons below, probably wise!). But I’m not mad about the heat, and mosquitoes and I do not get on too all. Slightly worried that we’ll spend a fortune on a trip of a lifetime and instead of gazing in awe at giraffes and elephants whilst looking serene and laidback in khaki (as a John Barrie soundtrack sweeps along in the background) the grim reality will be that my husband will be busy having some sort of a nervous breakdown on one of the tiny internal flights whilst I bite his head off having turned into an itchy, puffy, heat-frazzled and mosquito-ravaged monster. Are they absolutely everywhere? Would I get bitten to shit?!
So Esther, tell me honestly, honestly… how bad are the insects?! Husband and I have talked about going on safari for some while now (even toyed briefly with Botswana for a honeymoon destination. Road-tripped up the Californian coastline instead – for reasons below, probably wise!). But I’m not mad about the heat, and mosquitoes and I do not get on too well. Slightly worried that we’ll spend a fortune on a trip of a lifetime and instead of gazing in awe at giraffes and elephants whilst looking serene and laidback in khaki (as a John Barrie soundtrack sweeps along in the background) the grim reality will be that my husband will be busy having some sort of a nervous breakdown on one of the tiny internal flights whilst I bite his head off having turned into an itchy, puffy, heat-frazzled and mosquito-ravaged monster. Are they absolutely everywhere? Would I get bitten to shit?!
(Apologies if this posts twice – computer is having a problem!)
It really depends – we were assiduous with the Deet, so didn’t get actually bitten by mozzies much (poor old Sam was eaten alive by sandflies, but that’s not a Deet situation and in fact if I’d just kept him away from the seaweed he’d have been fine) but Africa generally (unless you’re in the desert) is incredibly buggy, especially in rainy season.
I’d say if you have any sort of real THING about insects – I mean beyond all our general aversion to them – or creepy crawlies in general and don’t relish the heat, not sure Safari is for you. It’s hot; there are insects… and that’s really the end of it.
But, god, I’m no expert – maybe there are places/times to go that are less like that scene in Temple of Doom and more like Out of Africa xxx
Sandflies are the worst!!
I’ve always thought long floaty skirts were great in really hot weather. Light to pack, pack in about six and a few cotton tops and you’re away. Tight denim shorts are a no no also any type of trousers, except very wide thin types which look like skirts. Also flimsy long dresses same principal. Thanks for reminding me, I’m going on line now.
Marylebone mum says
Your thoughts on Palladium boots in a non-safari urban setting?
Honestly I’m really not sure
Guess the floaty dresses / skirts also have the edge in a squat-wee situation.
Abi – I went to Kenya and Tanzania a longish time ago now when I had just graduated and the mosquitos were manageable but did struggle at the beach with sandflies as it looks like poor Sam did too (is he ok now Esther?). I also had a bad reaction to the anti-malarials I took (doxicycline – quite old school but larium was a no go and malarone was too pricey at the time) which meant I was supersensitive to the sun and itchy the whole time and it did nearly ruin the trip for me. So basically safari fine, beach bit less so! And do your research on meds. It was an amazing trip though.
I went to Samburu last Christmas and we returned from one of the game drives (more than slightly hot & dishevelled), to see a new guest in the camp: a beautifully polished American blonde in a khaki linen jumpsuit, with cream silk scarf and similar boots to those Palladium ones. It was a jaw-dropping sight. Top tip for anyone going on safari: wear a sports bra on those bumpy dirt roads!
yeah but a JUMPSUIT?
Quick question re leg admin: I’m assuming you mean shaving / tanning – but don’t dresses require that, too? I’m puzzled.
it depends on the length really… a midi dress covers a multitude of problems and you can get away with far sloppier leg admin than with a pair of hot shorts
Hah – the idea of “hot shorts” honestly never even crossed my mind. (Granny shorts for me, hence my confusion.)
I so relate to this. I’ve always been a practical dresser esp when travelling. I remember going up a mountain in Turkey to see the sunrise, dressed rather like a little boy in shorts and t-shirt, and when we got to the top there were two gorgeous girls on a year long travelling jag, looking super cool in harem pants, layered linen vests, lots of locally acquired jewellery, amazing tans. I just stared at them in envy, forget the sunrise. Years later on holiday in Greece I tried wearing a bit more jewellery ALL THE TIME even in the pool, and my husband looked at me after the first week and said ‘what is this? a holiday thing?’
husbands ruin everything