Hello my name is Corrina and I am your prototypical Taurus. I dislike being too hot, too cold, too dirty, or too overdressed or underdressed. I love travel but I also love comfort — a big part of which is feeling put together and prepared, so travelling to the African continent for the first time to do a Ugandan safari and trekking trip with G Adventures was a challenge in terms of getting ready. I knew I’d be out under the hot sun on the savannah and hiking through the humid rain forest high up in the East African Rift and that my regular warm-weather destination wardrobe would not cut it. I knew I’d be sweaty and sometimes dirty, but I also knew that the animals we’d get to see would make those minor inconveniences seem nonexistent in the moment… I just needed to do a bit of planning.
Here’s what worked for me (and helped keep things cute) on my first safari in Uganda:
Places like the Ugandan wilderness tend to be remote and it isn’t easy to pick up a crucial item or two that didn’t make it into your suitcase. Do your Google research. Talk to your tour company to see if they have a recommended packing list. Interrogate friends who’ve gone on similar adventures. Then make your own list and check it 32 to 37 times. Or, like, three times if you’re not as anxious a traveller as some (Hi). G Adventures will even book your flights for you (they work with over 120 airlines across the globe) so you can focus on packing and personal prep.
Know When To Cover Up
For certain types of treks and safaris, you’ll want long sleeves and long pants. The main reason for that is to avoid scrapes and scratches from the bush you’re hiking through. Other times, it’s just a good idea to keep the hot midday sun off of as much of your body as possible. And a hat is always your sunny skies BFF.
Layers: Never Not A Thing
The temperature can rise and drop quickly in the morning and again at night, especially if you’re in mountainous areas like Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where our G Adventures tour took us gorilla trekking. (Best wildlife-sighting experience of my life? Yes.) It’s essential to have layers that you can easily peel off (and frequently back on) according to the weather.
To Repel or No?
When it comes to trekking and safari expeditions, it’s smart to ask before you apply any insect repellent. While it’s great at dusk to keep the small number of mosquitos at bay, it can also attract certain types of bugs like the tiny wasps that tend to hang with mountain gorillas — their bite is more than a bit painful and bug spray smells like lunch to them.
The Right Shoe Changes Everything
A city girl at heart, I swore I’d never be one to invest money in the sartorial monstrosity known as the hiking boot — and I don’t mean the fashion hiking boot. Finally, a full three trips after I should have, I gave in. Best decision. The mud-up-to-your-ankles, walking up and down mountains scene demands them. Bonus: I also bought hi-tech socks that prevented my feet from looking like not-cute zombie appendages after a day of hiking.
Sweaty, Me? Never*
*Where ‘never’ means about 70% of the time. You’ll be unsurprised to find out that Uganda, a country bisected by the Earth’s equator, is HAWT. Bring more than one reusable water bottle — hydration is key. So too, is an on-trend bandana worn tied around the neck (shout out to Queer Eye’s Antoni for making the neckerchief happen) that can also be used to mop up a little forehead sweat now and then.
Sunscreen, Your Beauty Routine Queen
I lived by this rule in Uganda: If you apply it, you will sweat it off — unless, of course, it’s waterproof. By day two my morning beauty regimen was down to a few scant items: moisturizing toner, waterproof mascara, waterproof sunscreen, and an SPF lip balm. Why? See above. While the heat wasn’t at all unbearable, any hiking we did worked up an impressive sweat. And if you’re in Uganda to see wildlife, you have to hike for it.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Corrina Allen-Kiersons)