When planning what you will wear on safari in Uganda, it is essential to consider the local dress cultures, weather or temperature, comfort, ease of movement, colors, and style. These simple factors will greatly determine what clothing you pack in your suitcase for a memorable holiday safari in the Pearl of Africa. In this latest blurb, we’ll be considering all of them to guide you on what you’ll have on your packing list.
Assuming that you have space, you ought to carry at least one shirt and underwear change for every day you will spend on safari. Organizing laundry along the way is a pain in the neck, and the dusty conditions will practically enforce a daily change of clothes.
It’s a good idea to keep separate one or two shirts for evening use only. Otherwise, try to keep your clothes to a minimum. In my opinion, the minimum you need to pack is one or possibly two pairs of trousers and or 2 dresses, one pair of shorts, three shirts or T-shirts, one light sweater, maybe a light waterproof jacket during the rainy season, enough socks and underwear to last five to seven days, one solid pair of shoes or boots for walking, and one pair of sandals, thongs or other light shoes.
What Do You Wear on Safari in Uganda?
Here we take a comprehensive look at what you can or can’t wear on safari in Uganda, but first, let’s have that packing list for an all-inclusive trip.
- Trousers or pants x2
- Skirts or dresses x2
- Shirts x3
- Sweaters x1
- Socks and underwear
- Wear Gaiters
Trousers or pants
It used to be widely held that jeans are not ideal for African travel since they are bulky to carry, hot to wear and take ages to dry. I seldom used to travel in jeans myself, but I almost always do these days, since they have the advantages of durability and comfort and hiding the dust and dirt that tends to accumulate on public transport. So if you feel comfortable in a light pair of jeans, pack a pair or two to wear on safari in Uganda.
A good alternative is light cotton trousers, which dry more quickly and weigh less. Try to avoid light colors as they show dirt more easily. If you intend to spend a while in montane regions trekking primates, instead of bringing a second pair of trousers, you might prefer to carry a safari trouser made from a synthetic material that offers UV protection, convertible, and vented for comfort.
Besides, out there in the bush, such material will keep the discomforting moisture and dust at bay. Secondly, the gorilla trekking jungle is extremely humid with lots of plants bellow the knee and such pants will be helpful in protecting your legs.
Shorts on men are acceptable to wear on safari in Uganda, especially on the savanna plains and informal situations. However, many Ugandans consider them inappropriate on grown men whose school days are clearly long past. Before traveling in shorts, it’s worth considering whether you’ll be able to don longer trousers before mosquitoes start snapping at your ankles.
How many skirts or dresses should make your Uganda safari packing list?
Like trousers, these should be of light natural fabric such as cotton. It is advisable to wear skirts below the knee for protocol reasons: short skirts will cause needless offense to many rural Ugandans (especially Muslims). Whether you like it or not, they may be perceived as provocative in some quarters.
So if you have more time with locals on your Uganda safari itinerary, avoid packing skimpy skirts, but you can reserve them for your private time in your room.
Another point against short skirts is, in addition to climbing into a tall vehicle, you’ll be standing up on the seats for game viewing and perhaps even sitting on the roof. Remember that your driver is always seated and may not be appropriate to stand above them with short skirts. I’m sure he would try to keep his eyes averted, but I think you would be better off wearing shorts if it’s all a short affair.
Wearing a skirt around the camp or lodge during a midday break is okay, but you’re still looking at whether that’s culturally appropriate to wear one around the camp staff.
Cultures around urban areas, especially at safari camps, have eased up to western cultures because of learning from hosting all kinds of cultures from around the world.
There are parts of Africa where it’s still considered slightly off for women to wear trousers or jeans rather than a skirt, but this isn’t a real issue in Uganda. I would highly recommend packing trousers to wear on safari in Uganda.
Wearing what makes you comfortable without offending your hosts is a way of also spreading your own culture. You shouldn’t hide your own dress cultures when in a foreign land.
T-shirts are arguably better than button-up shirts because they are lighter and less bulky. That said, I’ve found that the top pocket of a shirt (particularly if the pocket buttons up) is a good place to carry my spending money in markets, bus stations or quicky make a service tip without revealing your financial situation, and it’s easier to keep an eye on than trouser pockets.
Uganda is generally warm at night, though at higher altitudes (for instance, in Fort Portal and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest), it can cool down in the evening.
For general purposes, one warm sweater, fleece jacket, or sweatshirt should be adequate. If you intend to hike Mount Elgon, the Virungas, or the Rwenzoris, you will need very warm clothing.
Western Uganda has a wet climate, and showers are normal even during the supposed dry seasons. A light waterproof jacket is close to essential to wear on safari in Uganda. Alternatively, a lightweight umbrella can be useful against rain and sun (usually, your safari lodge provides one if it rains).
Socks and underwear
Please pack socks and underwear made from natural fabrics, and bear in mind that re-using them when sweaty will encourage fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, as well as prickly heat in the groin region.
Socks and underpants are light and compact enough for it to be worth bringing a week’s supply.
Unless you’re serious about off-road hiking, bulky hiking boots are probably not important on the Uganda Safari packing list. They’re also very heavy, whether they are on your feet or in your pack. A good pair of walking shoes, preferably made of leather and with some ankle support, is a good compromise.
It’s also useful to carry sandals, thongs, or other light shoes. Rather than spending a fortune outfitting yourself for Africa before leaving home, you might follow the lead of informed travelers and pack a minimum for just what your itinerary needs you to do.
If you are trekking the gorillas in Bwindi, waterproof hiking boots will be high on what to wear on safari in Uganda packing list. You’ll not trek gorillas in your long tucked trousers and socks in canvas shoes.
The jungle floor is mostly dumpy, and there are no designated hiking trails, so you’ll have to put your best foot forward. And your best foot will be thick-soled, waterproof, and with a decent ankle support pair of jungle boots that feel like Indiana Jones.
Folk that don’t know the purpose gaiters often giggle when they first see them; they are not the most stylish fashion accessory, BUT then wish they had them an hour into the jungle trail.
These “beauties” are absolutely brilliant at keeping grass seeds and burs off your socks, as well as bugs climbing up your trousers and making you pull off the Gangnam style dance in the bush.
Suppose you are going on a walking safari, a short bushwalk, or a gorilla trekking excursion. In that case, you could find yourself walking through dense undergrowth, and wearing gaiters will prevent bugs and other nasties from attaching to your often vulnerable ankles and socks. The good thing is that they’re light and won’t bulk your suitcase; pack a pair.
A Hat is Important to wear on safari in Uganda
Anyone who’s spent time in the African sun can attest to the power of the rays, and wearing a hat for safari is the first line of defense from sun damage. On your Uganda safari, you’ll frequently see men wearing some kind of hut and women with head wraps. Wearing something to cover your head in Uganda is not a fashion statement. However, it holds a distinctive position in the history of African dress both for its longevity and for its potent significations.
There’s no particular style of hut dedicated to an African safari, don’t be deceived by internet bloggers. Pack something that makes you feel stylish and comfortable. There are no awards on the African savannah plains for who’s wearing the best hut. Pack a headscarf or hat that will keep the UV sun rays off your head and face.
Book A Uganda Safari
Traditionally if you wanted to book a Uganda safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They would call a local operator who will make suggestions for camps and lodges. Then the agent will relay the information and lastly present you the operator’s bill inclusive of his cut (about 5% – 30% of the total bill). This back-and-forth communication distorts information and hikes up the final bill unnecessarily.
However, Destination Uganda is a new platform that will connect you directly to a trusted safari operator in Uganda who will work with you directly to plan a safari itinerary that suites your budget and travel style. No third parties. Since they’re locals and have direct partnerships with the properties, they will then book your safari and arrange the little details to make your trip a success. Send us an email now: [email protected]