I’ve been on a few safaris as a backpacker in India but hadn’t seen a tiger yet, so was stoked to get to visit Bandhavgarh Park – the park with the highest density of tigers in India. I wasn’t sure what to wear on safari, though! As a backpacker, I just threw on what was in my backpack but I’m not really rocking ali baba pants anymore and as this was a boutique safari lodge it required what they call “smart safari clothing”.
I actually had some cute safari outfits in mind from pieces I had picked up, so I didn’t need to go shopping for this trip. I’m going to share a detailed safari packing list and some exact women’s safari clothing that is stylish AND comfortable while still being “smart”.
You’ll also need some safari gear to go along with your outfits, so I’ll share all those details, too! I’m going to start out with some tips on just want to expect on safari in terms of the dirt, sun, weather, colors to avoid, and other things to make note of.
What to Wear on Safari | My Safari Packing List
Just how dirty will you get?
The roads are so dusty! Most safari parks are shut during the rainy season, so you’ll likely be on a safari when the roads are dusty. With an open-air vehicle, you’ll have the dust get on your skin, hair, and face of course all your clothes. Add on top of that there will be more Jeeps around that are kicking up dust.
Beyond dusty roads, there are some times when you might be able to get out of the safari vehicle (when it’s safe) so you’ll want to make sure you’re covered from your ankles to your collar bones! It just will make it so much nicer when you strip off your dirty clothes at the end of the day. Basically, this is not the time for a silky white dress! If you take a backpack, camera, hat, or anything – just know it’s ALL going to be covered in dust.
One other thing to avoid? Fleeces. They just attract the dirt in a big way! Fabrics that are similar to a windbreaker are best. You’ll likely wear the same jacket again and again. and it’s nice to just shake the dirt off so it’s fairly clean the next time you put it on.
What should I expect from the weather?
You are going to need layers. Safaris are usually sunrise and sunset that means it can be cool at the start of a morning safari and the end of an evening safari. But, when the sun is high in the sky, it’s HOT. It’s not a big problem; layers are key.
Don’t forget sun protection!
I wore a baseball hat the whole time. It protects from the sun but it also keeps my hair from getting tangled from the wind. I wore Sun Bum face stick sunscreen.
What colors to wear
You have to wear neutral earth-tone colors. Don’t be the person in a bright pink dress scaring off all the animals! You want to blend in. Tans and browns are good. Don’t wear white.
What about when I’m back at the hotel?
My resort was pretty luxurious, and if yours is too, you want to wear something “smart”. A nice midi dress, culottes with a button-up, or jeans and a linen top would be good options.
What Safari Gear You’ll Want to Bring
Your safari car will likely have all the basic first aid things you might need but it doesn’t hurt to take some to have in your room or in your backpack (or in my case, fanny pack). One thing you need? bug repellant. I love the mosquito wipes, so much easier to use than spray.
My camera is the Panasonic Lumix GX85 and for the safari, I used my favorite zoom lens, the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F2.8. This is zoom but not one of those intense ones that are huge. It’s small, and I carry it in my purse. I also recommend using a MegaGear leather case to protect it from dust and dirt.
You safari might have binoculars you can use, but if they don’t you DO want to have some yourself. You will also want an alarm clock in case you don’t use your phone and for the lodge grounds, a headlamp is so helpful.
My Safari Outfits in India
Cooler Weather Safari Outfit
I am a fan of Anatomie clothing. It is lightweight, takes up essentially no luggage space, is wrinkle-resistant, can be hand-washed in cold water with hardly any effort, and dry in five minutes with a hair drier. According to their site, two pairs of pants weigh less than a banana. That saves a lot of space compared to two pairs of jeans! Plus, they are comfortable, neutral, and look safari-smart.
It’s expensive, and it’s something that you should invest in if you will be traveling a lot and want something you can pack without thinking. I wore these same outfits in Panama for all my adventure days and it’s nice to just have it for future trips.
This outfit is the “Kenya Safari Jacket” in Khaki. The pants are the “Luisa” in Khaki.
Not pictured, I also took the metallic Merika windbreaker.
I wore my FAVORITE UGG sneakers which I’ve shared about over and over, the “Tye” ones in the color “Slate”. I wore a black Free People bandana shirt with the Rolling Stones on it so it would look more chill and not like a “safari outfit”. I also took my NY Yankees hat, which is on every trip with me. I wore my Ray-Ban Wayfarer’s because they are big and cover a lot of my face. Take a scarf with you as well for on the car to protect your face.
Warmer Weather Safari Outfit
The above outfit is also Anatomie. The pants are the “Techno Chino” in grey and the top is “Melissa” tee in Grey. Again, I wore my UGG Tye tennies, Ray-Ban Wayfarer’s, and my NY Yankees hat. With this, I wore the same Merika windbreaker I mentioned above.
You might do four safaris on a trip (there are two a day at most places and many people do 3 nights/2 days on safari because it’s kind of pricey to do more), so I wore these two outfits twice each, except I changed tee shirts! But the same pants and jackets because they are that Anatomie fabric that you just brush off the dirt and it’s fine. They are so thin that you don’t sweat in them but also protect from the chill in the mornings.
Our safari gave us blankets to cover up with when it was cold!
I also just throw in my Homebodii monogrammed pink satin PJ’s. I’m sure now you’ve seen them in basically all my packing posts! I almost always travel with a hair scarf these days and I’m wearing an Anthropologie ones in the photos above. I wore it up to the lodge with jeans and a linen button up one evening and it dresses up any outfit.
I have two Free People “Love to Love You Midi Dresses”. I have a yellow one I loved but they went on clearance (and still are) so I got this sage green one which was $39 (steal) and perfect for a safari lodge. I took my UGG Kari Slides.
Really the UGG Tye sneakers and Kari slides are all I need these days when I travel in terms of shoes!
I didn’t take more photos at the lodge, but I did wear other clothes. My lodge safari clothes were:
- The midi dress picture above
- Levi’s that I wore with a GAP linen button-up in a cream color
- Linen overalls in navy blue that I wore a long-sleeve shirt underneath
- A long maxi dress from Lulu’s – maxi dresses are great, and the linen button-up over it
I took two swimsuits only because I was also on vacation going to other places. I took my favorite Melissa Odabash swimsuit, the “Mexico” which I have in black and brown. I also took my L*Space “Crossroads Texture” bikini with the Rebel top and Frenchi bottom.
A Sample Safari Packing List
Luggage & Carry-On
For luggage, I took my large Ebags Fortis bag and my small Ebags Fortis Pro (review of this one here). I’ve been such a Delsey luggage fan for so long, but lately have been gravitating to this set. The carry-on especially is my favorite by far right now. It blows away the “Away” bag!
Personal Item / daily bag
I took my current favorite backpack, the Lo and Sons Hanover, as my personal item on the plane (review of the brand here). This is IDEAL because it has all my electronics in it but they are in the organized, pocketed inner-shell. You then unclip that and take it out, leaving an empty backpack and all your stuff that was in it, still in the inner-shell, in the hotel room. I then took the outer shell as my safari bag! It was perfect. I threw in my hat, scarf, sunglasses, ID (you need to take ID for parks!), bug repellant, camera, and lenses.
- 4 Shirts (two long-sleeve and two short-sleeve)
- 2 jackets (one heavier than the other)
- 2 Safari pants
- 1 linen button-up shirt
- 1 Leggings for layering if it’s very cold
- Baseball Hat
- Tennis Shoes for the safari
- Scarf (large for face and small for hair)
- Pantsuit (linen is nice because it’s warmer than cotton and looks nicer)
- Culottes (I love the chinos from Anthropologie)
- 2 maxi dresses
- Button-up shirt
- 1 long-sleeve shirt
- 1 tee shirt
- Swimsuit cover-up
- It’s a 10 (you’ll need detangler from all the wind!)
- Lotion (you need some serious body lotion because the dust dries you out, I like Aveda)
- Because it’s dry, also Vitamin C serum and a face mask (loving the Milk mask from Patchology)
- BB Cream or Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer
- Panasonic Lumix GX85
- Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F2.8
- Kindle (so much downtime and many lodges won’t have WiFI!)
Overall, the thing that made my trip easy was the Anatomie outfits. If I had the budget, I’d get one more to take with me but they are pricey – I’m happy I have the two I do, and they take up NO space and are so nice to throw on and feel totally “ready” and looking good and “smart” but also cute and blending it safari-style!
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For more packing tips:
- The Only Beach Vacation Packing List You Need
- Packing For Finland in Winter: Don’t Make the Mistakes I Did
- Packing for Various Regions of Long-term Journey in One Suitcase
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