Clothes for your safari holiday – ideas for your packing list
Safari holiday booked, and the dreaming of looking like Meryl Streep in Out of Africa has come to an abrupt stop. You’ve just noticed that many fly-in safaris come with the requirement to compress your entire wardrobe into a tiny bag weighing no more than 15kgs! Now there’s a knotty problem. How to downsize your safari packing list to keep you warm, cool, dry, comfortable? And looking good, without coughing up excess luggage fees.
Starting from the head down, here’s my holiday gift guide to the very best in African safari clothing for women from our friends at Hickman & Bousfield (of whom, more below the ideas and delicious clothes pictures).
The African sun is strong when you’re so close to the equator. So you’re going to need a hat. Baseball caps will do, but a broad brimmed version, such as the unisex elegant fedora is better. It will save you from a painful burnt neck on game drives.
While African wildlife often use a flash of white as a warning signal that a predator is on its way – think of the back ends of impala as the leap away after a scare – a white linen shirt like H&B’s ‘Safari Shirt In White Linen’ works as well on a quad bike in the Makgadikgadi Pans as in a Winelands’ restaurant. The half sleeves protect shoulders and upper arms while the high collar can be turned up to cover the nape of the neck.
While safari camps have a laundry service and will often return washed items the same day, the key to packing light for your African holiday is having items which work throughout the day and can be layered with different accessories. The ‘Safari Shirtdress In Brushed Cotton Twill’ is great during the day or team it up with a pair of trousers in the evening and it’s suitable for a bush dinner or drinks round the fire.
Shorts are often easier than skirts to ensure you keep your dignity when clambering in and out of safari vehicles. I’m a fan of the Hickman & Bousfield ‘Linen Mix ‘Tweed’ Shorts’.
There are going to be times on holiday when you want to cover your legs. In the cool African evenings it has the double benefit of keeping you warm and avoiding the need to cover yourself in insect repellent. The H&B ‘Dark Khaki Pleat Front Pants’ can be worn long or with the cuff turned up to go three-quarter length.
I was first introduced to the “Haman Towel in Sage” on safari in Botswana and have used mine on many holidays since. It’s a cover up when heading to or from the beach as well as a towel or blanket to lie on when I’m there. I’ve also wrapped it round my head on a quad-bike and round my shoulders on evenings under the stars.
Hickman & Bousfield
You’ve probably realised by now that Caroline Hickman’s classic safari kit is my kind of clothing. Caroline’s background is in costume design and she splits her time between Botswana’s Kalahari and London. She was looking for clothing in breathable fabrics which could work equally well on a game drive in Africa as it could on city streets. Finding a limited choice scattered across various retailers, she decided to manage her own range with partner Ralph Bousfield.
Ralph, owner of Uncharted Africa, guided my first mobile safari in Botswana, and he and Catherine make a stylish pair whether you meet them on the open salt-pans of the Makgadikgadi or in a London bar.
Caroline described her thoughts to me as follows “When Ralph’s clients fly in to our safari camps their luggage allowance is limited as the planes are tiny and use remote airstrips. Their holiday safari clothes need to be as appropriate on safari in desert conditions as they are in a restaurant in cosmopolitan Cape Town or on the beach in the Seychelles. My aim for the Hickman & Bousfield range is for them to be the go-to items for safari clothes, but also to be pieces that people are comfortable wearing when they’re not on holiday”
An added gift if you do decide to shop – Aardvark Safaris’ clients benefit from a 10% discount on anything in the range. Simply pop ‘Aardvark10’ into the relevant box at checkout.
Packing help – Interactive safari packing list.
We’ve produced an interactive safari packing list, which asks three questions before tailoring a personal list for you based on destination, time of year and safari activities you’re undertaking. Click the link to try it out: Interactive Safari Packing List