Singita Pamushana Resort. Courtesy Roar Africa


Gear Up

The important must-haves for a comfortable, and safe, safari excursion.
By Lisa Grainger


You’ll wear a great pair of walking boots every day on safari, come rain or shine. The Scarpa Kailash Plus GTX boots have solid soles to protect from thorns, Nubuck leather that is durable and protective, and Gore-Tex breathable inners to keep feet reasonably cool. Wear them in at home, so they feel like slippers in the bush. $280;


A good hat will not only protect the face and neck from the sun, but shade the eyes from bright light—thereby improving the chances of spotting game. The best models, such as the cotton Jacobson Safari ($40; or Barmah Hats’ Canvas Drover ($52;, have a wide brim, aerated sides to aid cooling, and an under-chin strap.


Insurance is essential on any trip, but it is particularly important in Africa, where medical rescues from remote areas to hospitals in South Africa, or back to the United States, have to be carried out using (expensive) private planes. Most local African hospitals stock only the basics, so it’s worth taking a small medical kit in case of an accident. The Lifesystems Traveller First Aid Kit has the basics; add antihistamine cream, tablets for headaches, motion sickness, and rehydration, plus pads and treatment for blisters. $25;


Debuted in the 19th century to fulfill the sartorial needs of African adventurers, the safari jacket was constructed of sturdy cotton cloth that was breathable and moisture-resistant, with epaulettes (for binoculars), pockets (for bullets), and a belt (to maintain its shape). The Hickman & Bousfield canvas version, created by legendary guide Ralph Bousfield and his costume-designer partner Catherine Hickman, brings that classic style into the 21st century, and looks equally elegant back home with jeans. $335;


Pilots of the small aircraft that flit between bush airstrips will not transport bags with hard sides. So, pack everyday essentials such as binoculars, a camera, sunblock, a birdbook, and sunglasses into a light backpack to take on board; check in clothes, shoes, and washbag in a soft-sided duffel. The Ghurka Kilburn II No 156, a handmade duffel available in vintage chestnut leather, is handsome, sturdy, easy to clean, and looks better as it ages. $1,495;


Most safari areas have mosquitoes in the wet season, which can carry malaria. Because in certain areas the creatures have developed immunity to some anti-malarials, it is important to get medical advice about which specific drug to take. Additionally, cover up arms and legs at dawn, dusk, and night, and use an insect repellent or an oil with citronella or eucalyptus oil, such as Lifesystems’ Deet-free Natural Insect Repellant 30+ Spray. $12;


A good pair of binoculars is the only piece of equipment that really is essential on safari. Sharing is not recommended; when a leopard creeps out from under a bush, you’ll want to see it up close immediately. Swarovski EL 32 Binoculars are lightweight and small, and have a comfortable grip, a wide range of view, and an ample x8 magnification. $2,300;


Pack a soft, fine cotton scarf, and it will always come in handy as a neckscarf on cold winter mornings; a headscarf on windy days; a sarong round the pool. The Lithuania-based LinenWorld makes light, soft versions in safari colors. Whatever you do, avoid blue: it attracts the biting tsetse fly. $28;


Open sandals are useful when you’re back from safari and relaxing in camp. The Keen Bali Strap ($80) for women and the Keen Venice Waterproof ($90) for men have a solid sole, a good grip, and a covered toe that allows feet to air out while preventing injury.


The African sun can be brutal, hence the need for a good sunscreen. The natural Green People Scent Free SPF 30 doesn’t attract insects, can be used on sensitive skin for UVA and UVB protection, and does not contain mineral oils or silicones that can cause prickly heat. $35;


This all-important tool illuminates dark camp paths at night, and frees up your hands
for carrying cameras and binoculars. The Petzl Tactikka+ compact headlamp, with camouflaged headband and rechargeable batteries, has both white and red lights,
to ensure animals are spotted, but not dazzled. $45;


Fjällräven Barents Pro Trousers, with numerous pockets and reinforced fabric, are great for bushwalks, as is expected from the company that has perfected the art of outdoor wear that is both stylish and practical. $140;

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