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Sun Protection In A Safari

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Sunburn can ruin your safari. You need to be protected from Day 1. You won’t find a lot of shade during your safari so you need to have ample protection for your skin. Bad sunburns can lead to skin cancer and you certainly don’t want to have that.

Photo Credit: Corey Dorsey

Sunburn makes your skin red then makes it painful. The pain is worst after 6 – 48 hours.  The burn also continues for another 2-3 days. Sunburns can be classified as first or second degree burns. Depending on the severity of your burn, you can experience fever, nausea, peeling, edema, blistering and rashes. Some sunburns require medical attention.


If you have red hair, green eyes or freckles on your skin, you are at the highest risk of getting skin damage from the sun.

Environmental Factors

The higher your location is, the higher UV rays there are. UV rays are strongest on clear, dry days but remember that they can still penetrate the clouds. Sand and water reflect UV rays into shaded areas so there’s no guarantee that you are safe under a big tree.

Photo Credit: Asiacamera

Protect yourself

You need the following gear so that you can be protected during your safari.


Wherever you are in the safari, you need to have eye protection. Remember to get sun glasses that have UV protection. These usually cost more but you can be sure that your eyes are protected so get a pair from a reputable brand. Make sure that the sunglasses don’t have gaps. If you can see past your sunglasses, that means that your eyes are still exposed to some UV rays. Light tinted sunglasses are also better than dark tinted ones because your pupils remain constricted so less light goes into your eyes.


You need to bring a large hat or a head scarf to protect your head. Long sleeved shirts that are light colored such as white will help you stay cool. Be sure to find shirts made of thick cotton. A long pair of trousers is also advisable not only to protect your legs from the sun but from bug bites as well. Don’t forget about your nape as this can easily burn. Wear a shirt with a collar and wear it up or wear a cotton scarf. Always wear comfortable shoes and socks when on a safari.

If you have swimming in your itinerary, be sure to ask your guide about the proper bathing suits allowed. Some tribes in Africa don’t allow bathing suits so you would have to wear a shirt and shorts. This is actually better as you get more protection.


Don’t forget to apply sunscreen an hour before you go out. If you are going swimming, re-apply every hour. When out in the harsh sun, re-apply every 2 hours.

Other tips

Plan your swimming or boating activities in the early morning or late in the afternoon where the sun is not its strongest.                

If you have severe sunburn, see a doctor immediately. Don’t go swimming if you have blisters as they can get infected. Take a cool (not cold) shower and avoid scrubbing and shaving until your skin heals. Use a soft towel to dry yourself. Apply sunburn cream to the area. Get as much rest and drink lots of water so you don’t get dehydrated. It will take about a week or so for your skin to heal so avoid the sun for a while.

You can still have fun in your safari without getting sunburned with the right protection so double check your gear and be prepared.

Hi, my name is Henry. I love to travel all over the world. I love safaris and I write about my travels. I also work with an organization that handles safaris to Botswana.

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