One of the most common questions we hear at OAT is about what to wear on some of our more exotic trips, especially where temperatures can vary so much from day to night. This month I’d like to focus on a question about Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari asked by one of our travelers on our forum.
Q: How “big a deal" is it to wear black for my main jacket color? It's winter in Africa and it's impossible to find a decent jacket that is not black and has zip-off sleeves that might do the job in the African winter (since it warms up during the day). I live in Florida so bugs are no big deal to me. However, are my Jeep mates going to toss me out of the Jeep for wearing black?
—Frank Jamison, 4-time traveler from Winter Park, Florida
A: Thanks for reaching out, Frank. We hear a lot from our Africa travelers about this issue as it pertains to comfort with wearing black in heat (which should be more temperate this time of year); how hues affects scoping animals in the wild; and whether insects are attracted to one color versus another.
According to Roger Clulow, our Regional General Manager in Africa, you can wear whatever you like—although neutral colors are recommended. “Khaki in particular lends itself to the bush experience and is more difficult for animals to spot, which in theory makes it easier to get closer to the animals,” Roger said. “And neutral colors generally attract fewer insects, but insects are less of an issue in winter.”
Ian Wallace, another associate in Africa, says the rumor that tsetse flies are attracted to black is an old wives’ tale. “Black is said to attract tsetse flies, but this is not fool-proof. My experience is that these flies aren’t attracted to one color over another.”
So, Frank, wear what you’d like, but as I recommend to any traveler visiting Africa for the first time, it's more important to bring a positive and flexible attitude. That way, you'll be prepared for the unexpected—and your fellow travelers surely won't toss you out of the Jeep! For more details on what to pack, please consult your Travel Handbook for Ultimate Africa, which is available by clicking here. Have a great trip!
Letters to Harriet
Of all the places on Earth where I've benefited from embracing the unexpected, India was definitely one of them—and it's the focus of this month's letter.
I’m considering adding the Pushkar Festival to a planned Heart of India trip. Is the festival worth the extra time and expense and does it substantially change the trip itinerary?
—James Sturm, first-time traveler from Chicago, Illinois
For many travelers to India, a trip to Pushkar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Held for about a week every November, one of the world’s largest livestock fairs transforms this holy Hindu town into an epicenter of festive traditions. Pushkar is dotted with vibrant tents and a bazaar, as its population soars and more than 50,000 camels are sold, decorated, raced, and shaved. (You can even ride one, if you want!) The men, however, take the opposite tack, growing their facial hair for a longest-mustache competition. Another recent highlight is the addition of a cricket match to complement lively folk dances, songs, and entertainment.
You might also observe Sadhus— wandering faithful Hindu men—in town, or make an offering at the sacred Pushkar Lake, which is studded with ghats for the pilgrims who come here to bathe in its healing waters. It’s part of the in-depth discovery that OAT travelers love, and that we love to provide. While our regular Heart of India trip is quite comprehensive, adding two more days to the base itinerary to include Pushkar is a unique opportunity that is only offered seasonally on a limited, space-available basis.
Have you experienced a country’s unique festivals or seasonal traditions on an OAT trip? Please share your stories and photos with me by emailing me at email@example.com.