Footwear is very important when planning a trip to the African wilderness. Safaris in Africa are all about nature, the wild, and the jungle, the very things that make the continent such a beautiful place to visit. It is full of mystery and interesting sights and sounds. Most African safari countries like Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Rwanda and Uganda various wild animals to see, bird watching opportunities, chimpanzee and gorilla trekking white water rafting, and so many other activities that could add to the adventure of your trip. But to fully enjoy all that, you need the perfect pair of shoes. They do make a world of difference especially on hiking and gorilla trekking expeditions. After selecting and packing the right clothes, you need to make a careful and informed selection of footwear.
There should be more of rules about what not to bring on an African safari than the guidelines on what to pack especially about the foot wear that is comfortable for the Jungle experience. The most important point here is to travel lightly.
Foot wear can also be a baggage problem due to its extra bulk as well as weight. We also find that the light trail shoes and the hybrid shoe or sandals are most adequate for the regular travel as well as normal safari conditions. Some of these comfortable shoes include; Teva, Merrel, Keen, HiTec, Salmon and Garmont. Etc. Even the walking trails and the flying camping trips on the rough terrain don’t allow hiking boots when the conditions are very dry.
Foot wear also needs change with altitude especially with the Rwenzoris and Mt Kilimanjaro and also when wet and rough forest conditions are anticipated. In countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Gabon, the light but robust and waterproof boots are a must. However for the walking trails as well as the treks in dry season in Udzungwas and Mahale, it’s recommended that regular trail shoes can be used with an ankle support.
Safari Foot wear
With visiting the national parks and the game reserves, always two types of safari foot wear- boots and sandals are recommended.
Many people have said that you might not need boots when going to the parks, but we beg that if you are to go on walking safaris, a good pair of hiking boots is a must, and in case you are intending to stay with in the camps, a comfortable pair of boots is always advisable. These boots can protect you from wild insects, snakes, as well as thorns on the ground. Again, the soles of your safari foot wear (for the boots and sandals) should have thick and non-slip soles that are comfortable.
There are two types of sandals that are comfortable for any African Safari, a thick bush soled sandal for using outside and a thin soled sandal for inside using inside. The thin soled sandal will also prevent the thorns from damaging the foot.
So we now know that boots are important footwear on an Africa safari. The best way to know which boots to buy or pack is by first of all knowing what kind of safari you are going on.
If you are planning to go on hikes, mountain climbing or tracking chimpanzees and gorillas, then you need good sturdy boots to be able to make your way along the trails on rugged the terrain with little difficulty. You might need boots if you are going to do some bird watching as well.
Safari boots that are very comfortable with thick and light soles as well as supple uppers are so good for a safari. When looking for good hiking boots, try to look for the following combination of six key features.
- Boot weight: this means the lighter the boots, the easier your walking will be and the boots must also maintain the arch support, lateral and the longitudinal rigidity.
- Water Resistance: Moisture can be mush especially in the wet season, so keep in mind that this same moisture causes painful blisters so you must also try and keep your feet dry.
- The Tongue: Here the flap in the boots where you insert your feet should be fully gusseted, this means it should be stitched not only along the bottom but along each edge to the upper so that the sand, stones as well as water don’t get into the boots.
- Scree Collar: this Collar also protects your ankle and the Achilles tendon from chafing and they should have paddling that keeps sand out of the boots. The best scree collars are the ones that have half-moon cut-out at the back which allows the ankle to flex more when walking and also prevents chafing.
Safari foot wear- Trail buster boots:
- Sole: This should also have an aggressive tread which helps to ensure good grip and should have some sort of stiff shank, this is also a thin piece of metal within the sole to protect the foot against thorns, glass, rocks and other sharp objects as you stand on and from penetrating your foot.
- Laces: These should also be braided nylon cords, the flat laces have less strength and will also break more easily. And in case your hiking boots have flat laces, it is most probably a fashion boot and not genuine hiking boots.
How to care for your safari foot wear
- You need to apply polish once in some months or after every safari in order to try and preserve the leather layer.
- In case you go for bush walks, you will most probably cross streams as well as the insides of your boots will get wet, don’t use a hair dryer or putting them near the fire in order to dry them out. This will rather dry out and stiffen the leather.
- Always let your safari foot wear dry naturally, it’s also advisable to crumple up newspaper and also put paper balls into each of the boots and later leave the boots in the sun to dry.
- Also keep the newspaper for few hours and keep changing them with dry papers, this paper also acts as a sponge which draws the moisture out of the boots.
- In case the outside part of the boots are muddy, just use water and a soft brush to get rid of the mud.
Walking Safari Shoes & Walking Sandals
If you intend to mostly focus on game drives and wildlife viewing, then you need to invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Since you will mostly be seated in a vehicle or walking short distances to catch sight of a few wild animals. You might need walking shoes for nature walks as well, especially along tracks that are quite even. It can get tiring to wear boots all the time, so walking shoes offer a pretty comfortable and practical respite.
The right shoes also depend on the kind of safari you take. Tour operators can give you good advice on what shoes to pack depending on what safari you have booked.
Some parents like to travel with their children, so children on safari are not a rare occurrence. If you are traveling with your children, make sure they are properly outfitted so they can be comfortable and have a good time too. Comfortable and well fitting walking shoes are good for children, boots are usually not necessary since children are usually not allowed on hikes. Children usually spend their time playing around the lodge and going on a few nature walks it is good to keep them comfortable with the right clothes and footwear. Walking sandals are usually good for the evening.