Colours to avoid in East Africa

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Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby juno427 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:32 pm

I am in the process up putting together my gear from the Joburg-Nairobi trip I am going on in Dec/Jan. I have seen a bunch of things online re colours and wanted some clarity. Do I really need to avoid black if I am on the safaris? Is red also out of the question. Some places seem to suggest only khaki, brown and olive but unfortunately those colours are not that easy to find in the quick dry gear. Any info and clarifications would be great.

Jenny
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby AdamfromCanada » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:30 pm

juno427 wrote:I am in the process up putting together my gear from the Joburg-Nairobi trip I am going on in Dec/Jan. I have seen a bunch of things online re colours and wanted some clarity. Do I really need to avoid black if I am on the safaris? Is red also out of the question. Some places seem to suggest only khaki, brown and olive but unfortunately those colours are not that easy to find in the quick dry gear. Any info and clarifications would be great.

Jenny


There is a good reason to avoid certain colours: Tsetse flies. They're quite prevalent in the Serengeti among other places and coming from a guy who's been bitten before, they pack a punch. They also can carry diseases such as sleeping sickness, which is really something you want to avoid.

They're similar size to horse flies, and they really are attracted to certain colours. I had a dark brown shirt one of my first days in the Serengeti and found that I had to fight a constant battle...which makes sense...I was wearing the same colour as the wildebeests.
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby juno427 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:58 am

Thanks Adam,

I had heard about the tsetse flies and they do seem nasty. Are they an issue only in the Serengeti or should I be careful of these colours in Kruger and Chobe national parks as well? Do you have to be concerned about colours when not in the traditional safari areas?

Thanks,
Jenny
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby catraveller » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:33 pm

While I don't know for certain, I never heard talk about Tsetse flies other than when in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro. The locals use large sheets that are royal blue and black to attract the flies, so I would avoid those colours while there.

Personally, nobody in our group had an issue with them (and I was wearing black the whole time) - not sure if it was due to time of the year we were there or if we just got lucky.

Haven't heard anything specific about colours to avoid elsewhere in East Africa.
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby AdamfromCanada » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:11 pm

juno427 wrote:Thanks Adam,

I had heard about the tsetse flies and they do seem nasty. Are they an issue only in the Serengeti or should I be careful of these colours in Kruger and Chobe national parks as well? Do you have to be concerned about colours when not in the traditional safari areas?

Thanks,
Jenny


I've not been to Kruger, so I can't comment there. I've been to Chobe and didn't notice bugs much there. Really, I think the Serengeti is the only place I've seen tsetse flies. That said, they appear to have a pretty big range, according to Wikipedia, so they could show up in other places too. They like large concentrations of animals though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsetse_fly

I've heard of people trying to AVOID khaki when in town because they don't want to stick out as a tourist, but it's not going to fool anyone if you're wearing something else.
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby bushkid » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:26 pm

Hi Jenny,

Just wanted to comment on your Kruger and Chobe question ... (I don't know anything about the Serengeti) ...

There a number of reasons why certain colours could/should be avoided, and I'm not an expert or covering all the options.

If you're operating in the bush, then blacks and whites tend to attract attention from some animals. I think that the concept of neutral colours stems largely from walking safaris (where you want to "disappear" in the bush, not stick out, so reds, yellows, blacks, whites, etc. are not really suitable). In vehicles it doesn't really make too much difference; most animals won't respond to them much anyway.

However, neutral colours come into their own when there's a chance of getting dirty (almost guaranteed on your long overland trips). So your clothes can be a bit dirty without attracting attention of your fellow travellers, as long as you don't smell ... :lol:

Dark colours do attract certain insects, particularly (in my experience) mosquitoes. I usually try wearing long sleeves and trousers at night, and preferably light colours (not necessarily white), to encourage mossies to go bite somebody else. :D Generally, I think you'll be surprised how few bugs there are (but we got attacked by a beetle swarm in Chobe two months ago - it lasted for an hour was horrific - so there are no guarantees, you might be lucky or unlucky).

A big issue with black is the heat (you really notice the difference in the sun), so light colours are best if you're outside for long periods. You can expect temperatures up to 110F plus, so it's worth making every effort to stay cool.

Khaki is a colour often associated with the military and occasionally repressive regimes (it can be very emotive), so I personally avoid khaki in towns and anywhere where there are large numbers of people.

Hope this helps (it's not intended to be comprehensive).
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Re: Colours to avoid in East Africa

Postby baga_azul » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:15 am

Very interesting. I had no clue there were some colors to avoid. Maybe I'll get some military trousers somewhere (and not use them in cities?).

People who got bitten by a tsetse fly, what did you do?
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