When is the best time for a safari?



A safari holiday is on most people’s bucket list and with careful planning it can become a life changing reality. Many visitors return time and time again as no two safaris are ever the same.


The most common question we are asked about safaris is: "When is the best time to travel?"


This is a difficult question to answer as it is dependent on the safari you wish to experience. Africa is a vast continent and each country differs as to what it can offer. For example, if you wish to experience the Great Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania or Kenya, you will have to travel at certain times of the year.


The list below gives an overview of some of the choices available and is a good starting point when planning your safari.


Whatever the season, you are bound to come home with amazing memories and wonderful stories to tell.



South Africa



Winter: May – September

Summer: October – April

Rainy Seasons – The Cape in the winter and Kruger in their summer.


The best time for game is during the dry months (Kruger: May – October/ November and Eastern Cape: October – April). Animals tend to gather round watering holes and when it's not so lush it's easier to spot the game.



Botswana



Dry Season: April – October (Winter)

Wet Season: November – March (Summer)


The most popular time for game viewing is during the winter months, when it is cool and dry. In drier landscapes and hot temperatures, the game is even more concentrated. Wetter months do bring different types of wildlife like birding, and the lush landscapes are great for photographers. During the winter months, the temperature drops dramatically but warms up rapidly during the day.


December to March is the green season and the country looks beautiful, with birding at its best. It can be a little rainy but it's a good time to go to Botswana as prices are generally lower and the game viewing is still good. This is also the best time to visit the Makgadikgadi and the Kalahari as game migrates south from the Okavango Delta in search of water.


The floodwaters from Angola usually reach the Okavango in May and last until September.


Find out more about our suggested Victoria Falls and Botswana Itinerary.



Namibia



Winter: May – September

Summer: October – April


Partially covered by the Namibia Desert, one of the world’s driest deserts, the climate in Namibia is generally very dry and pleasant. It gets some rain; December to March can be humid with afternoon thunderstorms. These are more common in the centre and east of the country and not so much in the desert. April to September are the coolest months with it warming up by September. Winter is the best time for game viewing – again it's dry so game gravitates to watering holes and can be easily seen by visitors.



Kenya



With Kenya’s diverse geography there is considerable regional variation in climate. Generally, the best times to visit are between December and March and from June to October. The rainy periods are the ‘long rains’ in April/ May and the ‘short rains’ in November. For great migration, the herds enter Kenya for a short period from July/ August to October but this is not guaranteed and can vary year on year.



Tanzania



Tanzania is very similar to Kenya.

The 'long rains' come in March, April and May – with afternoon tropical downpours, which are heavier by the coast.

The long dry season lasts June – October.

The 'short rains' come November – December.


The great migrations happen all year round in Tanzania – you just need to know where to look. They tend to follow the same clockwise pattern each year. Starting in the Southern Serengeti in January on the short grass plains before moving north in April. By September, they are in the Masaai Mara Game Reserve before migrating back down towards the Serengeti.



Zambia



May to October is the dry winter period, with warm sunny days and chilly nights – and excellent game viewing. This is the season for walking safaris. From November to April, the rains make remote areas difficult to explore; some seasonal camps are closed, though those with all-weather access remain open. Rains are typically short and heavy, followed by warm sunshine. The parks transform miraculously after the rains – from dry, bleak terrain into verdant woodland. Mammals give birth and migrant birds arrive in droves. This is ‘the Emerald Season’ and excellent rates are available.


Find out more about our suggested Victoria Falls and Botswana Itinerary.



Zimbabwe



Zimbabwe has a warm climate year round. For optimum game viewing, the best time to visit is the dry winter period from May to October, with warm sunny days, cool nights and excellent animal sightings as they congregate around the diminishing water sources. December through April is a time of plenty - mammals give birth and migrant birds arrive in droves. Expect sudden short downpours followed by warm sunshine. The parks are transformed during the rains – from dry and bleak into green woodlands.



Mozambique



The best time to go to Mozambique is from April to November, although the Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos are hot year round. There is summer rainfall from December to March with occasional cyclones in February or March. April to November is generally dry in the south but April is still wet in the northern Quirimbas islands.



Rwanda



Rwanda can be visited year-round. Although it is equatorial, its high altitude creates a warm, pleasant climate. Rainy season is April-May, with short rains in November. The dry season is better for tracking wildlife but the short rains are not serious.