What is the Best Month to Go on Safari?
When to Go on Your African Safari
1) Are you flexible to go whenever you want?
If you have the flexibility to go on safari any time of year, the primary consideration would be prioritizing the most important factors you want to include in your trip, such as specific wildlife events or species, as well as weather and climate, then pick the best time to be in that location for wildlife viewing. For example, you may determine that you really want to visit the Okavango Delta region of Botswana when it is crowded with elephants. Your planner would then recommend late in the dry season, thus a trip in September to mid-October would be optimal. Or, perhaps you want the best chance to witness the river crossings of the Great Migration in Tanzania. In that case, your planner would recommend the second half of the dry season in the Northern Serengeti, around late July through September. Flexibility with your travel time, and knowing what specific seasonal or wildlife-driven factors are most important to you, will help us plan the best custom safari for you.
2) Are you tied to a particular vacation time?
If you are planning to travel within a specific month, or even set range of dates, you can work with your planner to determine the best destination that will provide optimal wildlife viewing at that time of year. You may be limited in some specific opportunities, but we can plan a fantastic safari at any time of year in any of the top African safari countries.
Safari Through The Seasons
It is no surprise that a continent as vast as Africa has widely varied weather systems, impacted by natural features such as oceans, deserts, and mountain ranges. In Southern Africa’s safari regions, the rainy season tends to start in November and continue until March. The coastal Cape region has its own weather system with the majority of rainfall occurring in the midst of the winter months of June and July. In East Africa, there is a chance of rain throughout the year, but the rainiest months generally are April, May, and November. However, rain is not a major problem in most year round destinations, and has been affectionately termed, the “Green
Season.” Some areas close and become inaccessible, grass grows higher, and trees fill with leaves. This, in turn, provides more cover for the wildlife and thus results in more effort to find them. The greater availability of water allows wildlife to disperse. It also triggers many herbivores to give birth.
The Green Season is the prime time to visit for bird life as migratory species arrive all the way from Eurasia for breeding and abundant food sources. Many bird species can be seen flaunting their mating plumage, and the diversity of species is astounding. We have our favorite year-round destinations that provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and for the budget-minded, prices can be more than 50% lower. The green vegetation can be beautiful in pictures, and the lack of dust can be refreshing. This is a very good time for those with tight budgets to visit the prime destinations. Especially give consideration to the dates that fall very close to the official “in season” travel window, as nature does not follow dates on a calendar, and the first couple weeks of “off season” may have sightings and conditions identical to in-season for a significantly discounted price.
Throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, the peak season months to travel are July through October
when the rainfall is least and wildlife behavior is the most predictable. While dry season conditions are similar in both regions, average daily temperatures are not. In Southern Africa, the winter months of June and July can bring evening lows that creep just above freezing. By contrast, temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the dry season. The equatorial grasslands of the Serengeti and Masai Mara do not experience the drastic temperature swings of other destinations, generally maintaining pleasant temperatures year-round. All wildlife seeks to secure access to reliable food and water, which restricts animals to remain near the reliable water sources. The greater concentration of animals around the last remaining water sources encourages species interaction and predators to go after bigger prey as they weaken under the stress of heat and lack of food supply. The dryer flora and over-browsed plant life results in easier viewing of animals.
Peak Season conditions can also be based on specific wildlife events. Tanzania, for example has two peak seasons. The first is between January and February during the Great Migration calving season, and the second lasts from July through October for the Great Migration river crossing season. The optimal conditions for weather and wildlife viewing results in the highest accommodation rates of the year with fewer discounts or specials caused by the certainty of demand. Opting to travel on the dates just before or after Peak Season is therefore called Shoulder Season, and can often provide greater cost savings over Peak Season dates with fairly similar safari conditions. The value of this travel window generally results in dates being booked out more than a year in advance.