Cookie Settings

By clicking ‘Accept’ you agree that we use Analytical cookies for gathering information about how our website is used, as well as Advertising and social media cookies (including cookies from trusted partners) to personalize our advertising campaigns and to allow you to share on social media. About our use of cookies

Manage Cookie Settings

Please select which cookies you would like to keep switched on. Open a list of all cookies

Below you can decide which type of cookies you would like to keep switched on. Open a list of all cookies


Functional cookies

Functional cookies are essential to using our website and cannot be switched off. These cookies do not contain personal information and are not used for analytical or advertising purposes. Show Hide description

Analytical cookies (anonymous)

Analytical cookies gather anonymous information about how our website is used. The information collected does not contain personal information, cannot be traced back to you, and is not used for advertising purposes. Show Hide description

Advertising and social media cookies

Advertising and social media cookies (including cookies from trusted partners) enable us to personalize our advertising campaigns, and enable you to share on social media. Show Hide description

A giraffe next to a tree in front of a Tanzania sunset

Best Time to Go on Safari in Africa

The best time to go on safari in Africa is from June to September. This corresponds with the Dry season in the main safari countries, but there are regional variations and other factors to consider. Read on for an in-depth review of the best times for an African safari.

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
More info More info More info More info More info More info More info More info More info More info More info More info

Flag of Botswana Botswana

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Botswana Open in new tab

Flag of Kenya Kenya

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Kenya Open in new tab

Flag of Namibia Namibia

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Namibia Open in new tab

Flag of Rwanda Rwanda

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Rwanda Open in new tab

Flag of South Africa South Africa

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit South Africa Open in new tab

Flag of Tanzania Tanzania

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Tanzania Open in new tab

Flag of Uganda Uganda

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Uganda Open in new tab

Flag of Zambia Zambia

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Zambia Open in new tab

Flag of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Zimbabwe Open in new tab

Best Time per Country

Zimbabwe
Zambia
South Africa
Uganda
Tanzania
Rwanda
Namibia
Kenya
Botswana

Flag of ZimbabweZimbabwe

The best time to visit Zimbabwe is from May to September. At this time wildlife viewing is excellent as animals congregate around the rivers and waterholes.

More about the best time to visit Zimbabwe
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of ZambiaZambia

You have an excellent chance of seeing lots of wildlife in Zambia during the Dry season (May to October).

More about the best time to visit Zambia
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of South AfricaSouth Africa

The best time to visit South Africa for a wildlife safari is from May to September. Cape Town and surrounds are best visited from November to March.

More about the best time to visit South Africa
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of UgandaUganda

The best wildlife-viewing months in Uganda are during the Dry seasons from June to August and December to February.

More about the best time to visit Uganda
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of TanzaniaTanzania

The best time to visit Tanzania is during the Dry season, from June to October. Northern circuit parks can be visited year-round.

More about the best time to visit Tanzania
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of RwandaRwanda

The best wildlife-viewing months in Rwanda are during the Dry season (June to September). Primate walks in the forests are also easier in the Dry season.

More about the best time to visit Rwanda
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of NamibiaNamibia

Wildlife viewing in all parks, but especially in Etosha, is best in the Dry season from June to October. But Namibia can be visited throughout the year.

More about the best time to visit Namibia
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of KenyaKenya

The best time to visit Kenya is during the Dry season (June to October). Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ for some parks.

More about the best time to visit Kenya
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Flag of BotswanaBotswana

The best time to visit Botswana’s most popular parks Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe is from May to September.

More about the best time to visit Botswana
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Visiting month

Flag of Botswana Botswana

Best time to visit Botswana Open in new tab

Flag of Kenya Kenya

Best time to visit Kenya Open in new tab

Flag of Namibia Namibia

Best time to visit Namibia Open in new tab

Flag of Rwanda Rwanda

Best time to visit Rwanda Open in new tab

Flag of South Africa South Africa

Best time to visit South Africa Open in new tab

Flag of Tanzania Tanzania

Best time to visit Tanzania Open in new tab

Flag of Uganda Uganda

Best time to visit Uganda Open in new tab

Flag of Zambia Zambia

Best time to visit Zambia Open in new tab

Flag of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

Best time to visit Zimbabwe Open in new tab
Elephant family in Masai Mara

5 factors that influence the best time to go on safari in Africa

There are several factors that determine the best time to go on safari in Africa. What might be the best time for you isn’t necessarily the best time for someone else. To some extent, the best time depends on what factors are most important to you. So here are 5 factors to take into account when deciding on the best time to go on safari.

  1. 1 Wildlife viewing

    Most African parks and reserves offer a different wildlife-viewing experience at different times of the year. Generally, the best time to visit is in the Dry season. This is when animals gather around remaining water sources, such as rivers and waterholes, and thinning vegetation makes spotting easier. Specific events, such as the annual wildebeest migration, require more careful timing.

    Zebra in the field at Masai Mara, Kenya
    Zebra in the field at Masai Mara, Kenya
  2. 2 Climate and weather

    As everywhere in the world, Africa has its seasons. Southern Africa experiences summer and winter, but at opposite times to those seasons in the northern hemisphere. It isn’t always warm in Africa; early mornings and evenings can be very chilly in most parks during the (mostly dry) winter months. Due to its close proximity to the equator, there is no winter and summer in East Africa. Instead the seasons are mostly dominated by the rains. In some areas, traveling in the Wet season can be problematic. The Dry season, with its sunny days, is usually ideal for a safari holiday.

    Mountain Gorillas in the rain at Volcanoes National Park
    Mountain Gorillas in the rain at Volcanoes National Park
  3. 3 Scenery

    The African landscapes change with the seasons. While wildlife viewing is often best at the end of the Dry season, the scenery is at its best in the Wet season. After a long Dry season without any rain or moisture, the first rains come as a relief as a lot of dust gets washed away and the sky gets cleared of haze. The end of the Wet season, when everything is fresh and lush, is often most spectacular. Spring flowers are usually most prolific at the beginning of the Wet season.

    Tarangire National Park
    Tarangire National Park
  4. 4 Costs

    The cost of packages can also influence when to go on safari in Africa. This often depends on the season. Many safari destinations have low- and high-season rates. High season mostly coincides with the best wildlife-viewing months or the Dry season. Traveling in the Wet season or the shoulder months can be a bit more challenging, but it is usually a lot less crowded and the scenery is at its best. In some countries, such as South Africa, which is popular with families, there might be peak-season rates during school holidays.

    Namibia Desert Lodge
    Namibia Desert Lodge
  5. 5 How busy it is

    Luckily Africa isn’t really geared towards mass tourism. It rarely gets very crowded on safari. However, some of the more popular parks and reserves can get busy at certain times of the year. You can usually avoid the crowds by booking smaller accommodation in well-chosen locations. However, these exclusive lodges tend to be pricey. Another way to avoid the crowds is by traveling in the off season. This usually, but not always, coincides with the Wet season. In some cases, the shoulder months might be the best compromise.

    Leopard in front of tourist vehicle at Sabi Sands Game Reserve
    Leopard in front of tourist vehicle at Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Where to go on safari in Africa month by month

Different African destinations are best visited at different times of the year. When planning a holiday in a specific month, you should consider where are the best places to go in that month. Below is a month-by-month overview of safari highlights to help you plan your trip.

  1. January Highlights

    Many safari countries experience some rain in January. This comes with lush vegetation, spectacular scenery and few visitors. Due to the rains, wildlife can be a bit dispersed in some parks, but this is a great time to visit Southern Serengeti in Tanzania. In late January, the wildebeest migration is punctuated here by the calving season. The millions of wildebeest gathering attract lots of predators too. Similarly, in Botswana, a smaller migration of zebras can be witnessed in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Although generally a wet country, Uganda experiences a drier period in January to February, which makes for ideal gorilla trekking conditions.

    Zebra migration in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
    Zebra migration in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  2. February Highlights

    In February the wildebeest calving season is in full swing. The Southern Serengeti is the place to be to see the migration and great predator action. The salt pans in Botswana fill up and attract more and more animals. January to February is usually a dry spell between the long and short rains of East Africa. This makes it a great time for gorilla trekking and general wildlife viewing in the region. Be prepared for a cuteness overload with lots of baby animals around.

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Mountain gorilla with baby in the forest
    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Mountain gorilla with baby in the forest
  3. March Highlights

    Late March is a good time to see the wildebeest migration moving north from their breeding grounds in Southern Serengeti. You might see big herds of wildebeest walking in single file with their newly born babies in tow. Much of southern Africa is rained out in March. But it’s a lovely time for exploring South Africa with its mild weather and wildlife viewing that’s still very good in places such as Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

    A lion pride in Sabi Sand Game Reserves
    A lion pride in Sabi Sand Game Reserves
  4. April Highlights

    The Okavango Delta in Botswana comes to life with the yearly arrival of the floodwaters around April. This opens up opportunities to explore this watery wonderland by dugout canoe. Furthermore, much of the wildlife retreats to Chief’s Island when water levels rise, making it especially rewarding for walking safaris and game drives. Victoria Falls, between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is at peak flow. There might be too much spray to see all of it, but standing in front of the world’s largest sheet of water as it tumbles down at full force is a humbling experience.

    Okavango Delta: Tourist on mokoro trip
    Okavango Delta: Tourist on mokoro trip
  5. May Highlights

    May is the beginning of the dry winter season in southern Africa. The combination of improved wildlife viewing and mild weather (compared to mid-winter) makes this shoulder month a great choice for a safari in the region. The transitional month also marks the end of the rains in East Africa, and low-season deals are up for grabs.

    White rhinoceros grazing in Pilanesberg Game Reserve
    White rhinoceros grazing in Pilanesberg Game Reserve
  6. June Highlights

    The Dry season months from June to September are best for wildlife viewing in most parks and reserves across East and southern Africa. June and July are top months to witness the wildebeest migration in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti. If you are lucky you might even see the animals crossing the Grumeti River. It is also the best month to see the sardine run on the east coast of South Africa. This marine spectacle, involving the migration of billions of sardines followed by sharks, dolphins, whales and birds, is a sight to behold.

    Sardine run
    Sardine run
  7. July Highlights

    July is an excellent month to visit the Okavango Delta. Although it is the middle of the Dry season, water levels are high and perfect for dugout-canoe trips. These ideal conditions remain until October. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to get good photos of Victoria Falls while the volume of water is mid to low and the spray doesn’t block the views. Wildlife viewing is excellent in most parks. Big herds of elephants gather in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and around the Chobe River in Botswana.

    Sunrise over Victoria Falls
    Sunrise over Victoria Falls
  8. August Highlights

    You can expect prime wildlife viewing across most of Africa. In Rwanda and Uganda, gorilla and chimp trekking conditions are ideal. Thousands of elephants gather in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and the end of the Dry season is perfect for walking safaris in Mana Pools. Further south, sometime around August to September, the rains transform South Africa’s semi-desert Namaqualand area into a sea of flowers.

    Kibale National Park
    Kibale National Park
  9. September Highlights

    September, the end of the Dry season, is generally a great wildlife-viewing month in much of East and southern Africa. The wildebeest migration reaches its most epic stage; the famous crossings of the Mara River can be witnessed in northern Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. Whales can be seen along the southern coast of South Africa from June to November, but the peak month is September. And the best place to see these giants is in Hermanus, the host of the annual whale festival in September.

    Wildebeest migration at the Mara River in Serengeti National Park
    Wildebeest migration at the Mara River in Serengeti National Park
  10. October Highlights

    Although October can be very hot in southern Africa, the wildlife viewing is as good as it gets. Everywhere animals are looking for water. You’ll find huge elephant herds gathering along the Chobe River. In Namibia’s Etosha National Park in Namibia, you can see lots of different animals drinking together at the waterholes. Thousands of hippos occupy the last remaining river pools in Katavi National Park in Tanzania, and the wildebeest migration is moving across the Masai Mara NR.

    Thousands of wildebeest grazing in Masai Mara National Reserve
    Thousands of wildebeest grazing in Masai Mara National Reserve
  11. November Highlights

    By November the rains have reached most African safari destinations and the drabness of the dry winter months is slowly washing away. The birding is fantastic with migrants flocking in and many species showing off their breeding plumage. From November to March sea turtles lay eggs on South Africa’s sandy beaches, and a nighttime turtle-spotting tour is a highlight on any trip in the area.

    A big flock of flamingo's in Lake Bogoria National Reserve
    A big flock of flamingo's in Lake Bogoria National Reserve
  12. December Highlights

    Botswana’s ‘Emerald season’ (another name for the Wet season) runs from December to March. The new green grass and filled-up pans in the desert areas attract lots of animals during this time. Most notable is Africa’s longest mammal migration. Triggered by rain, more than 20,000 zebras start their annual journey from the Chobe River flood plains south to Nxai Pan National Park.

    A herd of Burchell's zebra in Nxai Pan National Park
    A herd of Burchell's zebra in Nxai Pan National Park