Best Time To Go On Safari

Africa is a vast continent and the best time to visit varies hugely depending on the area, the weather patterns are specific to each country. The dry season is normally the best time for safari as the animals congregate around waterholes and the vegetation is less dense, making game viewing easier. Having said that, every season is special in Africa. The arrival of the rains will often result in the birth of many baby animals which is a wonderful thing to see on safari. Generally, in East Africa the dry seasons are January to March and June to October. For Southern Africa, the dry season is May to October. There are many local variations to this, often travelling just outside the peak dry season offers great value for money.

Leopard in Sabi Sands
Buffalo in Kruger, South Africa

South Africa Safari

A safari in the hot spots of South Africa for wildlife, including the Eastern Cape, Kruger, Madikwe, Waterberg and KwaZulu-Natal, can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Although based on personal preferences you may prefer certain seasons over others. No matter when you go, you’ll want to bring more than t-shirts and shorts as it can get quite chilly on game drives after dark and early mornings too.

January through March

This period is primarily summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it will be hot and humid. As short bursts of rain occur in between the sunshine, parks and reserves are blanketed in vibrant green, while animal babies frolic in the grass and countless birds soar above. With local schools out for the summer holiday days, January is busy, but by visiting in March you can enjoy the best of both worlds, catching the end of summer while avoiding the crowds.

April through June

With the dry season beginning, temperatures begin to cool, although it will still be relatively warm, with Kruger experiencing afternoon highs averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Animals will be more active now which means it will be easier to spot them.

July through September

Days are filled with warmth and sunshine as the dry season continues, although mornings and evenings will be much cooler. While afternoons still hover around 80 degrees, lows dip into the 50s. If you visit Hermanus, you can watch for southern right whales, humpbacks and Bryde’s whales.

October through December

While October still experiences mild temperatures the transition from pleasant dry weather to hot, wet weather begins now.  Through late November you’ll still be able to see the many whales that inhabit the waters around Hermanus. December will be much busier with the local schools out again for the summer holidays.

Read our suggested itineraries for South Africa Safaris >>

Lilac Breasted Roller in Tanzania
Lion in Tanzania

Tanzania Safari

The northern region of Tanzania is ideal for year-round wildlife watching, with the migration herds frequently on the move. The parks in the southern part of the country will be closed during the rainiest months of March, April and May.

January through March

This is the dry season in Tanzania, and the very best time for birdwatching. With the grass shorter, you’re more likely to see the animals, often gathered around the waterholes. To witness the migration herds, visit the southern Serengeti, and if you want to see wildebeest babies, come in February.

April through June

This is the peak of the rainy season in Tanzania. In areas that experience especially heavy rain like Ruaha and Selous, the safari lodges will be closed in April and May. The game drives will be more adventurous with wet, muddy roads. On the plus side, this is a good time for a more budget-friendly safari, and you can also expect to see plenty of newborn animal babies.

July through September

Generally considered the optimal time for watching Tanzanian wildlife, this is the dry season and the busiest season of the year. The prices will be at their highest, although in the Masai Mara, you won’t notice as much of a difference. If you want to watch the migrating herds, head to the northern Serengeti.

October through December

Of these three months, November and December bring the best values and fewest crowds. It’s also another rainy season although you might spot migration herds traveling through the Serengeti’s central area.

Read our suggested itineraries for luxury Tanzania Safaris >>

Elephants in Amboseli National Park
Maasai in Kenya

Kenya Safari

Kenya is also a fabulous destination for a safari year-round with many animals that can be seen in every season. While it’s likely to be chilly during early mornings and on game drives in the evenings, the days will be warm no matter when you come.

January through March

Not only can you enjoy excellent game viewing during this dry season, thanks to the shorter grass with wildlife gathered around waterholes, prices are cheaper too.

April through June

The rain returns in April, lasting through May. It’s a great time for a more affordable trip without having to battle the crowds. With lots of wet weather, there will be plenty of mud too, so you’ll want to be prepared.

July through September

This is the busiest safari season of the year in Kenya. Many come to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration herds which can typically be spotted in Maasai Mara. Crowds arrive in droves to watch the animals make their famous river crossings. If you plan to visit now, be sure to book your trip far in advance to avoid disappointment as the best lodges and camps sell out quickly.

October through December

October will be dry, but by the time November rolls around another rainy season begins, lasting through December. It’s one of the best times for spotting migratory birds, particularly around the lakes, as well as being a great time to see animal babies.

Read our suggested itineraries for luxury Kenya Safaris >>

African Wild dog in Botswana
Mokoro boat ride inOkavango Delta Botswana

Botswana Safari

Botswana has two distinct seasons, with the weather from March/April through September bringing cooler days and less rain, making that period the best to go on a safari. October through February is hot and wet.

January through March

January and February will be wet, but if you want to see animal babies, a wide range of birds and landscapes that are lush and green, it can be a good time to come. March can offer the best of both worlds although things are transitioning to the busier, drier season.

April through June

The dry season is now in full swing, which means the animals will be easier to find, gathered around the waterholes or lying in shorter grasses. If you visit Chobe, this is the perfect time for spotting elephants.

July through September

This period is also part of the dry season, the elephants will still be easily spotted in Chobe. This is one of the best times to visit Okavango Delta for wildlife watching, which means prices in this area will be at their highest of the year.

October through December

Botswana is at its hottest it will be all year in October. As the rainy season starts in November, there will be fewer crowds, making it more enjoyable for game spotting.

Read our suggested itineraries for luxury Botswana Safaris >>

Elephants in Hwange
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Safari

Zimbabwe has been making a comeback as one of the most popular destination for safaris in Africa, with the best months to come for wildlife watching during the warm, dry season from April through October.

January through March

This is the wet season in Zimbabwe. While safaris bring lots of animal sightings, access to the Mana Pools will be limited and some of the lodges in Hwange will be closed.

April through June

April kicks off the dry season, which means the grass will be shorter and the animals will be gathering around the waterholes. It’s an ideal time to come for a Zimbabwe safari.

July through September

Another optimal time to visit Zimbabwe for wildlife spotting, the dry season continues. This period is perfect for combining a safari with a visit to Victoria Falls. If you wait until October, the water level will be at its lowest of the year. Come now and capture fantastic photos of the powerful cascades.

October through December

Botswana is at its hottest it will be all year in October. As the rainy season starts in November, there will be fewer crowds, making it more enjoyable for game spotting.

Sossusvlei Dune in Namibia
Namibia aerial shot Oryx

Namibia Safari

It’s hot and dry throughout much of the year in Namibia. In every season there is a significant difference (often 30 degrees or more) between day and night so you’ll want to bring clothing that can be layered.

January through March

January through March are some of the hottest months of the year, and combined with high humidity, it can be unbearable. It’s best to avoid a safari during this season unless you arrive closer to late March.

April through June

The official dry season begins now, making this the time to come for a safari with outstanding game watching opportunities. With many more tourists visiting during this period, especially during the holidays around Easter, be sure to book well in advance.

July through September

This is the peak tourist season, with school holidays in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. The dry season continues too, making it an ideal time for a visit to Etosha National Park with the wildlife heading for the waterholes. With clear skies, stargazing will also be at its best.

October through December

October is a good month to come for a safari, but November means unpredictable weather and December will be far too hot. If you plan your trip during this period, aim for October or early November and enjoy outstanding birdwatching in Etosha National Park.

Start Planning Your Safari

We hope this gives you an insight into a ‘typical day’ on safari. However, if you still have questions, please do get in touch with our safari specialists Elaine and Gemma. Either drop us an email, give us a call on +44 208 004 2345 , or book a video consultation to find out more and start planning your safari adventure.

You may be interested in

You may be interested in

  • Cape Town & Kruger Safari

    Cape Town, Franschhoek, Kruger National Park, Bazaruto Archipelago (Mozambique)

    14 Nights
    From $5,273 PP
    Discover iconic Cape Town sights, explore and sip in the Cape Winelands, and marvel at Kruger Nation...
    Read More
  • Classic Tanzania Safari & Beach

    Arusha, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Zanzibar

    12 Nights
    From $7,488 PP
    This iconic Tanzania safari and beach trip offers 14 nights of luxury accommodation in three destina...
    Read More
  • Highlights of Botswana Safari

    Central Kalahari, Okavango Delta, Linyanti Concession

    9 Nights
    From $12,075 PP
    This nine night itinerary visits three areas of outstanding natural beauty; the arid beauty of the C...
    Read More