What This Fat Traveller Wore: Namibia

  • 7x35 with binoculars
  • Climbing Soussusvlei
  • Chobe river selfie
  • 7x35 in Twyfelfontein
  • The author taking a photo from an airplane
  • white tevas

What do people wear on safari? Moreover, what do fat people wear on safari? Here’s a hint: it’s not all about the khaki.

I have a love/hate relationship with deciding what to wear while traveling. Despite the progress I’ve made in recovery, I often have the thought that I will be the fattest woman there. The higher functioning portion of my brain realizes this is ridiculous. The eating-disordery part is occasionally louder, especially for places that are well outside of my range of experience. And nothing was further outside of my realm of experience than the trip I took to Africa last summer!

Leading up to my trip, which I took in late July/early August 2016, I googled a lot about what to wear. My husband and I were renting a Toyota Hilux truck and taking a three week road trip through Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The information available for planning was negligible (more on that in a future post). I had a hard time even figuring out what temperature it would be in various parts of our trip! In many cases, the best information about the places we were staying were barebones websites and pictures that look like this:

Sossus Dune Lodge

Incredible, right? But it gives very little away in terms of temperature.

Out of all of that googling, I was able to ascertain that it would be hot sometimes, and cold other times. The first half of our trip would be incredibly dry, and later we’d be in a more humid climate. So…not helpful. Now that I’ve been there, though, at least I can share what I wore on my self-drive safari through Namibia.

  1. I didn’t wear khaki. Don’t wear khaki. Or at least, don’t wear head-to-toe khaki. No one else will be, and you’ll stick out like the first-time visitor you probably are. Luckily, I hate khaki, so I don’t own it anyway. One morning we got up crazy early for a small group tour to climb a dune and watch the sunrise. There was a guy in literally every khaki piece of clothing you could imagine. I mean khaki on khaki topped off with khaki. Don’t be that guy.
  2. True to the googling, the Namib desert was very cold at night. The sun sets early in the winter, which is in Arizona’s summer, and it gets cold fast. As an aside, how crazy is it that I left Arizona in July to go cool off in a desert? It’s not fair. I brought an REI down coat, and was glad I had it even though it didn’t get much wear after the first leg of our trip.
  3. I brought underwear that dries fast. This goes for any travelling, but doubly for a three-week trip where you’re in and out of different lodges every couple of nights. I brought a pile of Marks & Spencer’s microfibre knickers (their word, not mine) and was able to wash them in sinks and dry them relatively easily throughout the trip.
  4. UNIQLO’s UV cut airism hoodie. I am photosensitive, which means I get an itchy rash when exposed to sunlight. I think it’s technically called polymorphic light eruption, but that sounds a lot worse. I digress. The thing is, even if it’s really hot I have to stay covered up. Enter the airism hoodie. Even if you don’t get itchy sun rash, it’s got a lot going for it: it’s fabric is nice and light, it wicks moisture well, and it doesn’t look doofy.
  5. Dress comfortably. I packed a pair of jeans and a few pair of yoga pants. I never wear yoga pants out of my house. No judgement if you do, I just always put on jeans. But really, if you’re doing a self-drive safari like we did, you won’t spend all that much time with other people, so who cares?
  6. Bring a pretty scarf. A good scarf can be many things: an extra bit of warmth on a plane or boat, an accent to dress up a casual outfit, a swimsuit cover-up, you get the idea. I find big, rectangular, light cotton scarves to give me the most versatility when travelling, and I usually pack a couple for variety.
  7. Shoes: this is the area I kind of blew it. I packed a pair of leather Teva sandals, a pair of casual Teva sneakers, and a pair of Reebok sneakers. Sandals are a terrible choice for a variety of reasons, but suffice to say between the omnipresent gritty dirt and sand and the mosquitos I could have left them at home. The Teva sneakers were ok to start out, but I  trashed them early on in an ill-fated excursion across some dirty wet sand. (really, though, it’s my fault–white shoes are a bad choice basically anywhere.) So, I basically spent all week in my Reebok tennies. I don’t know what it is about this particular pair, but they literally never show wear. I wore the same pair all over Africa that I had, months earlier, waded through the pools at Havasu Falls in, and they look just fine. I’m pretty sure it’s a wizard or something.

I think that about wraps it up. I could write so much more about that trip, but I at least wanted to get a start! I hope you’ve found it helpful. // 7×35

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  1. […] was a black box when I started planning (as I talked a bit about in another post). I knew it’d be dry, and I knew it’d be a lot of desert, but beyond that it was difficult to […]

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