When to go to Botswana
Game viewing in Botswana is dictated by water and it comes in two forms – rain and rivers. These two sources come at different times of year and the animals will follow the water. It is very important to take this into account when you are planning a safari to ensure you have great game viewing. The main rains come in January/February and causes the wildlife to disperse across the country as there is plentiful supply of food and water across all the parks.
The source of the Okavango and Chobe Rivers is in the wet highlands of Angola and it takes some time for the water to flow down to Botswana. The river water generally arrives during the dry season in Botswana, June to August. At this time, the animals will move north to access these rivers as the rest of the country starts to dry out. The wildlife will congregate around the waters of the Okavango Delta and Chobe River, this massively increases the wildlife density in the area.
December – March
December – March is the main rainy season in Botswana. The rain starts to build in December and peaks in January/February, the rain generally comes as an afternoon thunderstorm. This time of year is when many of the herbivores give birth as food is plentiful, watching the babies play is a special experience. Game viewing is harder at this time as the animals are more dispersed and the vegetation is dense. It is a great time of year to visit the more arid parks like the Central Kalahari, Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi National Park, which come alive with the rains. This is time of year is known as the Green Season, this is when prices and visitor numbers are much lower. Some camps close during this period to do repairs.
April - May
April – May is known as Shoulder Season, the rains are easing but it is not yet peak game viewing season. The temperatures are coming down and as the landscapes starts to dry out, the animals start to move back towards the north of the country to the permanent waters of the Delta and Chobe. This concentration of wildlife makes it much easier for your guides to find great sightings when you are out on your game drives. Its is a lovely time of year to visit Botswana as the prices are lower and the game viewing is good.
June – August
This is peak season in Botswana, with peak rates and visitor numbers. The weather is warm and dry with day time temperatures around 25c. The animals are congregating around permanent water sources in the north of the country as other water sources dry out. The game viewing in the northern parks (Delta, Chobe & Moremi) is outstanding at this time of year as the animals congregate in small areas looking for water. The water levels in the Delta are high at this time of year creating those iconic landscapes the Delta is famous for.
September – November
During this time of year, it is extremely dry and the animals are competing for access to water and food. The temperature is also starting to rise as summer approaches, it can get at high as 45c (113F) and will not start to drop until the rains come. This intense heat means game viewing is outstanding in areas which still have a water source. The weather in November is quite a hard to predicate as it depends when the big rains arrive, generally they come in October/November.
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