When is the best time to go?


When is the best time to go?

It depends. Generally speaking, game-viewing peaks from July through September, but it is good year-round. October through February can get very hot in northern Botswana and Zimbabwe, especially in the Zambezi Valley. For bird-watching, the summer months are better, i.e. October through February/March. Victoria Falls is at its best in April/May & June, while Cape Town’s nicest weather is February, March & April and then again Sept/Oct. Namibia and other arid areas (such as the Kalahari) are at their best in March, April & May, just after the ‘rainy’ season (what there is of it). Low or shoulder season safari prices are available from November through May. The lowest prices (in Botswana & Zimbabwe) are for the ‘Low Demand Season’ from December through March.

Zambia is best visited from June through October, as the national parks are prone to heavy rainfall and impassable roads in the ‘high summer’ season from December through March/April. Some of the camps with access to all-weather roads do remain open however, and there are some very popular trips which operate in the area at that time. Fantastic birding, best chance of any time of the year for wild dogs, and lots of young animals to be seen.

In East Africa, it rarely gets unbearably hot, although some people prefer to avoid the ‘long rains’ which fall in April & May. The dry season from July to September is considered the optimum time for the western & northern Serengeti & Kenya’s Maasai Mara, while December, January and February are arguably the best three months for the southern short-grass plains of the Serengeti. The months of March through May and June as well as November are low & shoulder season in East Africa, and offer good value for money.

Steve Turner of Origins Safaris says it best regarding East Africa: “We think too many people are too pre-occupied by “migration” – at this time of year it’s cold, grey, winter, dry, uninteresting and crowded. But yes, the wildebeest do run across rivers. Prospective visitors are also unnecessarily afraid of rain in May, when in fact rain is the lifeblood of Africa – this is when it’s warm, tropical, everything is breeding, few other tourists, so a lovely “private, exclusive experience”. Yes in May the roads can be muddy and the grass long, but such are the adventures of safari. In our opinion the best time in East Africa in general is October to March”.

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