BotswanaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Botswana
KenyaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Kenya
NamibiaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Namibia
RwandaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Rwanda
South AfricaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit South Africa
TanzaniaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Tanzania
UgandaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Uganda
ZambiaJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Zambia
ZimbabweJan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to visit Zimbabwe
Best Time per Country
BotswanaBest time to visit Botswana
KenyaBest time to visit Kenya
NamibiaBest time to visit Namibia
RwandaBest time to visit Rwanda
South AfricaBest time to visit South Africa
TanzaniaBest time to visit Tanzania
UgandaBest time to visit Uganda
ZambiaBest time to visit Zambia
ZimbabweBest time to visit Zimbabwe
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 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.