We are now able to offer you a range of carefully selected travel and safari clothing. It’s a big exciting world out there and we understand that choosing what to take can be challenging, especially when you consider that airlines are imposing increasing restrictions on luggage weight. It’s now vital that clothing and kit is light and takes up as little space as possible. With this in mind, our selection of clothing is designed to be light, fast drying and easy to care for.
Let’s now consider the different items of clothing suitable for an exciting trip, such as an African safari, starting at the top! You can also view our mens safari clothing and womens safari clothing ranges via our online store.
In warm climates with strong sunlight, a hat is a vital item of clothing. I personally prefer ones with a wide brim which provide all round sun protection and stop the back of my neck from burning. My favourite is the Tilley hat and I have had mine for many years. They are extremely tough, float, pack flat and the maker’s claim you can leave it in your Will!
These are a very important item to take on a trip with you and will save you straining your eyes for long periods in bright light conditions. They also offer protection for your eyes from dust, debris and very importantly, thorns, if you are bush walking. Here at Farlows, we firmly stand behind the Costa sunglasses range and recommend that you choose the glass lenses. They never scratch, unlike poly lenses, offer superior light protection from harmful rays and are backed by a good warranty should they break.
Jumper or light fleece jacket
Probably not the first item you think of for a trip to a warm country but in many parts of the world, no matter how hot the temperature is during the day, it will drop once the sun goes down. If you are heading out on safari early in the morning or coming back after dark on an open vehicle, this can be a bracing experience, so a light fleece will keep you warm and make your journey home far more enjoyable.
Shirts for safaris should be light and ideally vented under the arms and at the back to keep you cool during the heat of the day. The temptation is to go for short sleeve shirts but a long sleeve version is more versatile as you can roll the sleeves up or down, exposing or protecting yourself from the sun and also biting insects. This especially applies in malarial areas after dark, so choosing shirts with insect repellents impregnated into the material such as the Simms bugstopper no fly zone shirt, offer an extra level of protection. Khaki is the traditional bush colour and it certainly helps to choose inconspicuous clothing if you are trying to view game on foot. For evening wear, or viewing game from a vehicle, colour is much less of an issue. We feel we offer a selection of stylish comfortable shirts which will last for many trips.
Trousers and shorts
Personally in Africa, I rarely wear shorts as trousers offer far more protection from biting insects and sharp thorns. For walking trips, trousers are therefore a wise choice but for game viewing from the comfort of a vehicle there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider a pair of shorts. The happy medium are trousers with zip-off legs, such as the Patagonia GI III trousers, which offer the best of both worlds. During the heat of the day wear them as shorts and then in the cool of the evening convert them back into trousers. They are so light you will never be weighed down having the trouser legs stored in your back pack.
For walking safaris a grass gaiter ensures that tiny seeds don’t get into your shoes and lodge in your socks. Seeds can cause great discomfort and can quickly lead to sores and rashes. Grass gaiters are much shorter than normal gaiters and cover only the ankle, sitting just over the top of your boot. They are made in either soft leather or durable synthetic materials and are a very worthwhile investment.
Choosing comfortable footwear is very important. Remember that in warm conditions your feet will swell and you should bear this in mind when purchasing your shoes/boots for a trip. Brasher boots are a leading brand. It’s also good advice to wear them in before you go - many safaris have been ruined by new shoes being deployed on day one of the trip. I prefer my bush boots to be light, durable and supportive of my ankle, especially if I am walking in areas with loose rock. For the evenings, I choose slip on comfortable shoes, such as loafers, which allow my feet to breath and cool down from walking through the heat of the day. Excursions in the the early mornings into grassy areas will result in wet feet, so it‘s worth selecting boots which, whilst they might not be actually waterproof, do not absorb water like a sponge.
When choosing socks the same rules apply as with other clothing. It is better to choose light breathable materials and cotton is an excellent material for this purpose. I make sure I choose ones with good elasticated uppers to stop them slipping down and extra padding on the heel if I intend to walk long distances.
Insect repellent and protection
For much of the equatorial world the single biggest risk from insects is malaria. This is a parasite transmitted by the female anophelese mosquito (males don’t bite). This family, like most mosquitoes, are active from dusk through the night to dawn depending on the species, so make sure you remain well covered up around the camp fire in the evening and sleep under a good mosquito net with no holes in it. Your doctor will advise you on malaria prevention medication.
During the day your biggest insect problem will be from tetse flies, an African version of our very own horse fly. They can bite through most materials, so clothing with insect repellent impregnated is an excellent choice, though unlikely to completely repel them.
A bag to carry items such as water and extra sun cream is a good idea. There are a huge variety of models on the market, some of the best come from Millican. I favour ones with a breathable mesh layer which keeps the bag from directly contacting my back. This helps you to stay cool and sweat to evaporate rather than accumulate. The excellent camel back models are also very good and enable you to carry water in the bladder device and keep you hydrated as you go, without having to stop and take the bag off your back to access a quick drink.
This is a vital piece of equipment and often one overlooked. A safari camp is often spread out over a reasonable area and will be comprised of a lapa (main eating/meeting area) with tents or chalets set aside down lovely winding paths. Some lodges or camps also have separate ablution blocks. Walking between these at night is foolhardy without a torch as sometimes snakes lie on these as the stones or gravel retain heat. The choice of your torch is now very easy with the development of technology. I personally favour the latest LED models. They are very small yet exceptionally bright. Make sure you take a set of spare batteries with you.
Wildlife viewing in Africa is a wonderful experience, made all the more special with a good set of binoculars. Africa has wonderful light, so large binoculars with big objective lenses are not needed to get good light transmission. This is one occasion when small, compact binos, are great to carry with you and provided you choose a good brand, will be good enough to ensure you never miss a thing!
There are a huge variety of sun protection products on the market. We recommend you choose one which matches your skins level of sensitivity. This especially applies to children who may have more sensitive skin. You can now find water resistant creams which only need applying every 10 hours (even after swimming) such as Riemann P20. This is an excellent choice for active people who don’t want the hassle of having to keep reapplying sun cream throughout the day. Obviously, please read the instructions on the product rather than relying on my advice.
I hope you’ve found this useful, please leave any comments or questions below. The African continent possesses a huge depth of wildlife and culture just waiting to be explored. I hope the tips above help you to get the most from your next adventure.
© Images courtesey of Matthew Lloyd-Sim, Far & Away Safaris.