Seasons in Africa – In Pursuit of Planning the Best Time to Go on Safari
Recently returned from his travels in Africa this past October, Mark Nolting is often asked what is the best time of year for you to take that safari that will touch your soul and leave you inspired for a lifetime. “When planning your trip to Africa, remember that the seasons there are opposite of North America. The coolest months are July and August and warmer months are January to March,. Spring includes the months of September, October and November while fall includes the months of March, April and May.” Timing and location can make a world of difference so here are some tips from our consultants to help you be in the right place at the right time.
The Dry Season- Prime time for Wildlife Viewing
As a general rule, the dry season (May through November) is the best time to avoid rain and to view the Big 5. Kyle Witten says “when waterholes dry up, the animals tend to gather in larger numbers to drink along the rivers and pans. Imagine an afternoon spent in a wood-pile hide at the edge of a watering hole photographing iconic Hwange elephants silhouetted against the setting sun then Hwange.”
Green Season- Lush and Scenic
During the green season (December through April) the land is lush and the air is clear. Elena Theodosiou mentions that “the young babies are out in numbers and although it may be rainy season, and it tends to rain mainly at night or in the early morning. Some parks and reserves are actually better outside of the dry season and rates can be lower.”
East Africa travel season
Alison Nolting mentions “In East Africa generally avoid the months of April and May and you will be a happy traveler! So a wildlife safari to Tanzania and Kenya combined with gorilla trekking can be done most of the year.
Southern Africa travel season
The best wildlife viewing is found during the months of June through October. However good game viewing can also be found year round in Botswana, and top private reserves in South Africa.
Seasons for Wildlife Migrations
“To view the Great Migration, you’ll also want to be in the right place at the right time” advises Lynne Glasgow. “Watch large herds of wildebeest and zebra moving through the Serengeti in December to March. The spectacular river crossings- where the animals face obstacles like gushing waters and crocodiles are in the months of July, August, September and October when the animals stay north along the Mara River in both Tanzania and Kenya.”
Seasons for Wildlife Birthing
Szilvia Hegyi observes “If you’d like to see calves being born, remember that birthing season happens at different times of year in different locations. The best time to see babies at Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Okavango Delta in Botswana is during the months of November through March. In Kenya and Tanzania and other eastern areas, February and March is the best time to see babies.” Once you have witnessed the magic of a litter of lion cubs, a baby elephant taking shade under his mother, or a baby giraffe trying out its spindly legs for the first time, you will be hooked.
Low Season Rates
“People who are flexible with travel dates may want to plan their visits out of high season. There are usually less travelers in the parks and reserves, which adds to the quality of the safari. Many camps and lodges also offer better rates during these low season months” advises Ian Flores. Low season months varies from destination to destination; typically the three peak-high season months are July, August and September.
Answer Your “Call of the Wild” Season
In summary, the best time of year for your safari is a combination of the best time to see the wildlife and scenery that interests you and the temperatures you enjoy. But it is always a great time to explore the natural rhythm, the magic and the spirit of Africa. Yes, you will likely leave Africa, but it is unlikely that Africa will ever leave you. As Mark Nolting says, “Your safari to Africa will leave you inspired for a lifetime.”
Best Time to Go Chart