ADORE Africa Safari Guide
When to travel where

Although much has been written about the best time of year to travel in Africa, most countries are a year-round destination – depending upon your interests. 

For many travellers to this vast and diverse continent, wildlife is the major attraction. One should always remember that the so-called ‘peak season’ is just that, and accommodation establishments tend to be booked well in advance. Many safari lodges are small, and therefore space is at a premium. If you want to experience the majesty of the great migration in East Africa, it is advisable to book well in advance. This also applies if your interests are travelling to Cape Town and the Winelands in December.

It is important to understand how seasonal trends might affect your trip. Remember, however, that weather is variable and so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the rainy season, or have thundershowers in the middle of the dry season.

WET SEASON

The grass can be long in some areas after the rains; therefore, game viewing at these times can be difficult. In some areas, the wildlife will disperse during the rains due to the ample water supply, as they are not dependent on water holes.

DRY SEASON

The best game viewing period in Africa is generally during the dry season. Permanent water supplies attract animals, the vegetation becomes thinned out, and trees don’t have so many leaves to obstruct the view.

This optimum safari season usually includes winter (May-August) and the hot spring months of September and October. The climate is comfortable in the dry winter months of May, June, July and August. Daytime temperatures are mild and the nights get a little cool.

EAST AFRICA – KENYA, TANZANIA, UGANDA

There are two rainy seasons in East Africa; the first, known as the long rains is from April to June and the shorter season from late November through to December. Many properties in the game viewing areas do close during April and May, mainly due to bad road conditions.

The islands of Zanzibar are also affected during this period. The dry seasons are generally better for game viewing, as game concentrates around the water sources. The weather patterns play a major role in the great migration, as the animals follow the new grasses, which are dependent upon the rainfall.

SOUTHERN AFRICA – SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA, NAMIBIA, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE, MOZAMBIQUE, MALAWI

In most parts of Southern Africa, the rainy season is generally from November to March. This is particularly true for the safari areas. The peak safari time is in the dry winter months as this is when the game concentrates around the water sources, although the summer months can be productive – especially for keen birders, as the migratory species breed during this period, and the Okavango Delta, for example, becomes a paradise.

Zambia tends to be more seasonal, as certain areas (Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa) can be made impassable due to bad road conditions. Certain properties do close between November and April.

The Western Cape area, including Cape Town, tends to experience a winter rainfall, making the peak season to travel the summer months.

INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS

The weather patterns of the islands are similar to that of Southern Africa with summer rainfall, November to March. The ideal time to visit is from May through to October. Madagascar and parts of Mozambique can be affected by extremely inclement weather including massive flooding and cyclones in February and March.

Safari in Africa is possible all year round, depending on what countries and areas you will be visiting and what safari experiences you are interested in.


Below is ADORE Africa’s recommendations for the best time to visit

JANUARY

January is a month that sees the majority of ‘Safari Africa’ entering its rainy ‘Green Season’. Animals move with the start of the rains, dispersing over huge areas in search of fresh grazing, knowing that waterholes will be everywhere.

 

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For travellers whose priority is big game viewing, the best destinations are therefore Tanzania and Kenya, which are still in their dry seasons and superb at this time of year. If you are hoping to view gorillas in Rwanda, this country will be in its dry season too, as with the rest of East Africa. Many visitors also look to South Africa in January, as Cape Town, Winelands and the Garden Route are at their best (summer dry season) and the safari is still extremely good despite the fact that it is the rainy season in the safari areas.

 

Tanzania is a great destination in January, the Northern Circuit especially – the Serengeti is outrageously good throughout January, February and March. The first Great Migration herds have reached the Ndutu plains just south of the Serengeti itself and are starting to get ready for the calving weeks in February.

 

It is at this time of year that the Serengeti becomes the finest place in Africa to view cheetah, and the sheer concentrations of predators on open plains is astonishing. Designing a trip around the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater is a superb trip for January.

 

South Africa is absolutely beautiful at this time of year. The weather is perfect and self driving trips up and down the famous Garden Route are never better. The negative to travelling at this time of year, however, is that combining the fabulous Cape Town and Winelands with high-quality wilderness safari is hard – Botswana is entering its rainy season and the vast majority of Zambia is closed due to rain and floods. Nevertheless, South Africa’s own safari, specifically Kruger National Park & Surrounds, is still superb (though there is a chance of rain) – and this is the area we would combine with Cape Town for a short add-on safari.

 

January is a lovely time to visit Kenya. With clear hot days and little rain, game viewing in areas such as the Masai Mara is at its peak and this is also the start of the calving season. All this means it is a popular destination in January and some areas can get extremely busy so it is important to design an itinerary that keeps you away from any crowded areas.

 

January is a popular time to visit Rwanda due to warm, sunny weather and largely dry days, making for pleasant gorilla-trekking conditions. January is not completely rain free, however, and the unpredictable weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park mean that a downpour could happen at any time.

FEBRUARY

By February, the majority of ‘Safari Africa’ is in its heavy rains. This time of year sees days when huge storms and non-stop rain can take over.

 

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For travellers whose priority is big game viewing safaris, the majority of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia is best avoided at this time of year. Tanzania and Kenya, however, do not experience the heavy rains, and both are excellent for game viewing. The Great Migration’s calving season is in full swing and all the cats are at their most active as they hunt among the large herds. Gorilla trekking is perfect in February, as Rwanda, like Kenya and Tanzania, is in its dry season.

 

Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is a very good destination in February – indeed, the Serengeti is outrageously good throughout January, February and March, with February being calving month for the Great Migration. Safari aficionados flock to the Serengeti at this time of year, solely for the chance of combining their trip with the two to three weeks when the migration is calving in full.

 

This is the time of year when approximately 500,000 wildebeest are born in less than a month. It is also at this time that the Serengeti becomes the finest place in Africa to view cheetah, and the sheer concentration of predators on the huge open plains is astonishing. We also use a couple of camps down in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (effectively an extension of the Serengeti), which offer in addition some of the finest cultural interactions and walking operations on the continent. A trip designed around the Serengeti and Ngorongoro is superb for February.

 

South Africa is a great destination in February, particularly down in Cape Town, Winelands and along the famous Garden Route. The climate differs greatly between the north and south of the country, but a safari in both the Kruger National Park & Surrounds is still superb.

 

Kenya is in its hot dry season in February and is excellent both for big game and bird viewing in the Masai Mara and Laikipia. As many water sources dry up animals congregate around watering holes making game viewing much easier than the wetter months. The calving season is now also underway and all the cats are extremely active trying to use this opportunity for easy prey.

 

February is a popular time to visit Rwanda due to warm and generally sunny weather, making for good gorilla-trekking conditions. This month does see a gradual increase in rain as it moves towards March, but the changeable weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park make it hard to predict.

MARCH

By March, the majority of ‘Safari Africa’ is moving towards the end of its heavy rains. The end of March sees the first signs that the rains are ending, and this is a great time of year to travel for value.

 

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Tanzania is just beginning to start its main rainy season, but it is still a great destination this month. The Great Migration is in full swing and the new-born wildebeest have boosted migration numbers to the heaviest volumes. South Africa is at the tail end of its summer. The country has fewer visitors, and so can also be a very clever destination this month.

 

Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is a very good destination in March – indeed, the Serengeti is outrageously good throughout January, February and March, with the park being the finest place in Africa to view cheetah at this time of year. The sheer concentration of predators on the huge open plains is astonishing. We also use a couple of camps down in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (effectively an extension of the Serengeti), which offer in addition some of the finest cultural interactions and walking operations on the continent. Designing a trip around the Serengeti and Ngorongoro is a superb trip for March, and one that can be very good value, as many of the camps have dropped their rates to ‘low’ season.

 

Cape Town and the Winelands in South Africa is a very good place to travel to at the beginning of March. The weather is still good, and self driving trips up and down the famous Garden Route are a great option. The negative to travelling at this time of year, however, is that combining the fabulous Cape Town and Winelands region with high-quality safari is hard – Botswana is in its rainy season and the vast majority of Zambia is still closed, due to rain and floods. Nevertheless, South Africa’s own safari, specifically the Kruger National Park & Surrounds, is still superb – and this is the area we would combine with Cape Town and Winelands for a short add-on safari.

APRIL

In Botswana the rivers are full, making this a spectacular time to visit both the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls (in Zimbabwe and Zambia), which are at their peak volume.

 

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In April, East Africa is in the midst of its long rains, making the weather unpredictable. However, the game is exceptionally good in the Serengeti and the Great Migration is in full flow. In the safari areas of Southern Africa, the rains have passed and with them the intense heat of summer. The bush is left beautiful, lush, and green after months of rain, which can make searching for larger game a challenge, but it is fantastic for birding. This is also one of the best times of the year to visit the beach destinations of Mauritius and the Seychelles.

 

As autumn sets in South Africa and the trees begin to lose their leaves, it becomes easier to spot animals in the main game reserves during April. The mornings and evenings start getting cooler, and areas like Cape Town, Winelands and the Garden Route will experience mixed weather at this time of the year.

 

We are huge fans of Botswana in April, as the Okavango starts to flood and the country becomes probably the most beautiful place in Africa. Seeing the Okavango Delta in full flood is something that every safari enthusiast, and arguably everyone, should see. However, this is still not peak season for game viewing, so attention needs to be focused on picking the right camps to guarantee the best game. There is also a huge advantage to travelling to Botswana at this time of year – Africa’s most expensive safari destination is in its low season.

 

April is one of the best months to visit Mauritius. With nice warm days and cooler evenings and a great sea temperature this is a very popular month for families.

 

April is one of the warmest months in the Seychelles. The winds calm down as they change direction, preparing for the Southeast Monsoon. Temperatures are usually about 28°C/82°F.

MAY

We are big fans of Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe at this time of year, but May is also a great month to visit Namibia.

 

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May sees East Africa at the peak of its heavy rains. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania receive their largest rainfall at this time of year, making days unpredictable. In Southern Africa, May sees the end of the green season. Visitors start to become interested in the parks in this area, as the bush thins out and animals are attracted back to the permanent sources of water. Beach destinations like Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Mozambique all experience dry days with comfortable temperatures.

 

The trees are continuing to lose their leaves following the previous months onset of autumn in South Africa, further increasing the visibility of wildlife in the main game reserves, such as in the Kruger National Park & Surrounds. Mornings and evenings are cooler in May, while Cape Town, Winelands, the Garden Route, and other areas experience mixed weather.

JUNE

June is the turning point of the year, as the rainy months are left behind and Africa enters into the famous ‘dry season’.

 

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Game viewing in most parks improves considerably, and all the countries in which we work present a genuine option for your holiday. Choosing where to travel for the best game starts to become rather difficult. East Africa’s main safari countries still have a slight risk of rain, but Tanzania’s famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are superb for game viewing. Rwanda, for gorilla trekking, is also entering its winter season. In Southern Africa, June sees seriously good safari on offer in all the main parks in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Temperatures in the Indian Ocean are comfortable as the days are dry and clear with winter setting in. The Seychelles and Mozambique tend to be slightly warmer than Mauritius.

 

Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is a huge attraction in June. The Great Migration is pushing into the western corridor, while the rutting season is going on in earnest. It is certainly a noisy time of year. It is slightly quieter in Tanzania’s northern parks at this time than it is a month later. The south and west of the country are still not in peak season – although trips here are possible, they are not as good as they will be in a month or so.

 

June in South Africa is officially the start of winter; this is the beginning of the peak game viewing period in the northern reserves. The area begins to dry; and as foliage decreases, animals become easier to find. The northern part of South Africa is the complete opposite to Cape Town, Winelands and Garden Route region’s – in the north it is the start of the dry season in the safari areas, whereas this is when Cape Town and the Winelands has most of its rain and temperatures struggle to reach 18°C/64°F during the day. The plus point is that June heralds the start of the Cape Town region’s whale migration.

 

Most of Botswana is superb throughout June, and the majority of camps are still in their low- or mid-season rates, making Africa’s most expensive safari destination great value for money. The Okavango Delta is in full flood, the entire area looks exceptional, and game viewing across the majority of the Okavango Delta is very good. The first herds start to fill up the riverfront of Chobe and the Linyanti area, bringing this area into the start of its peak season. As this northern part of the country gets progressively better, the game leaves the Pans, which slowly start to lose their appeal.

 

With the opening of all the bush camps across the country, Zambia is finally ready for business. Game is starting to head towards the country’s rivers, and the beauty of the Green Season is still evident. There are a number of camps that have low season rates on offer in June, making for exceptionally good value. 

 

June is the start of the peak season for Zimbabwe (June to September) as the dry season brings with it fantastic weather and animals concentrate around waterholes and rivers. In May and June the Victoria Falls are also at their most powerful and the best viewing of this amazing spectacle is from the Zimbabwe side.

 

Namibia in June is a dry month, with very little chance of rain. The days are warm but the nights can get cold, so we advise packing some warmer winter clothing. June marks the start of the best time of year for game viewing, as the wildlife is forced to the more permanent water sources. This creates the ‘Noah’s Ark’ scenes that have made Etosha famous.

 

June is a lovely month in Mauritius with warm sunny days and cooler evenings. For those looking for high temperatures it may not be the ideal destination.

 

June is an excellent month to visit the Seychelles with little rain and warm temperatures (temperatures from May to September usually stay between 28 and 30°C/82 and 86°F).

 

Mozambique’s dry winter season starts in June and the next four months are the peak season for the country. With less wind and weaker currents, this is also the perfect time for diving and whales are often seen from June to October.

 

June is the start of the dry season and can be considered one of the very best times of year to visit Rwanda, with very low levels of rainfall making for superb gorilla-trekking conditions. Despite this, the erratic weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park make it hard to predict whether or not rain will fall.

JULY

The dry season is the best time of year to be in Africa for game viewing, so travelling anywhere in ‘Safari Africa’ is especially rewarding.

 

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July is the first month that the dry season is in full swing. This is an incredible month, as all the parks in every country are in their peak season. Virtually everywhere offers very high-quality safari, and choosing where to travel for the best game starts to become rather difficult. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is perfect at this time of the year. In the Indian Ocean, Mozambique is calm and warm, while the winds pick up slightly in certain parts of Mauritius and the Seychelles.

 

Tanzania in July spoils you for choice. The Serengeti National Park is a huge attraction at this time of year, with the Great Migration pushing up to the northern Serengeti where the first river crossings take place. The huge elephant migration is also starting to build in nearby Tarangire. However, the real joy of this month is the fact that Tanzania’s quieter parks come to life. Selous, Ruaha and Katavi are the focal point of the region’s game and fabulous options for a less commercial safari than the northern parks can offer.

 

July is the second month of winter, carrying on the peak game viewing period in South Africa’s northern reserves. The area becomes drier still, further increasing the visibility of the wildlife. In Cape Town and the Winelands, however, rain persists along with a maximum daytime temperature of only 18°C/64°F. Nevertheless, the famous whale migration continues.

 

Botswana’s most famous parks are in their peak seasons for game viewing. The Okavango Delta, Moremi, Chobe and Linyanti area are absolutely world class at this time of year. The Okavango Delta is in full flood and the entire area looks exceptional. As this northern part of the country gets progressively better, the game has pretty much left the Pans and the Kalahari entirely – if you are searching for good game viewing, travelling to these areas starts to become inadvisable.

 

Zambia’s parks are now fully open with every camp in its peak season for travel. The bush has thinned out and grass has been trodden down, meaning that Africa’s finest walking destination, the Luangwa, is at its peak. The Lower Zambezi is an exceptional park at this time of year.

 

July and August sees the Great Migration (hundreds of thousands of wildebeast and zebra) entering the Masai Mara from Tanzania, creating one of the world’s most incredible wildlife spectacles. This is the start of peak season in Kenya and so care needs to be taken to make sure you pick the right camps and avoid the crowded areas.

 

With virtually no rain, clear skies and lots of sunshine this is a very good time of year to visit Zimbabwe. The bush is less dense and animals are starting to concentrate around the main water sources, making game viewing easier.  

 

July is a popular time to visit Mauritius, although it is one of the cooler months. With the trade winds picking up this month, it is usually better to stay on the West coast, where the beaches are sheltered.

 

We love Namibia at this time of year, as the temperatures are still reasonable and the country is looking superb. The game viewing on offer in Etosha is also starting to hit its peak, making the country’s finest safari destination a great addition to any itinerary here.

 

July is the peak of the dry season and can be considered one of the very best times of year to visit Rwanda, with very low levels of rainfall making for superb gorilla-trekking conditions. Despite this, the volatile weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park make it hard to predict whether or not rain will fall. July is a peak month for Rwanda and booking early is essential, particularly with permit availability in mind.

 

July is a popular month to visit the Seychelles with little rain and slightly cooler, breezier weather than the hot months of March, April and May. Due to the south-east trade winds the seas on this side of Mahe can be a little choppy so care should be taken on choosing where to stay.

 

Mozambique is a great destination in July with lots of sunshine and less wind. This is also a great time of year for diving and fishing.

AUGUST

August is the heart of the dry season and the most suited month for the best African safari. Visitors will find that travelling anywhere in ‘Safari Africa’ is outstanding in August.

 

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The decision where to go depends on the style of safari you are after – and ultimately, your budget. In East Africa, the Great Migration starts to move from the northern parts of the Serengeti into Kenya, becoming a genuine contender for the finest safari experience on the continent. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is perfect, as the days are clear. In Southern Africa, August is, quite simply, ridiculously good. Botswana and Zambia, specifically, offer what we believe is world-class safari. Temperatures are cooling down in Mauritius, but Mozambique and the Seychelles are still offering lovely warm temperatures.

 

Tanzania in August spoils you for choice. The Serengeti National Park is a huge attraction at this time of year, with the Great Migration the main focus, as river crossings take place daily in the Lamai/Kogatende northern part of the park. Also, Tarangire is the centre of the region’s elephant migration. Combining these two migrations is a popular and very good itinerary. Selous, Ruaha and Katavi are the focal point of the region’s game and fabulous options for a less commercial safari than the northern parks can offer.

 

August is an equally superb time of year to be in South Africa. The north of the country, especially, guarantees very good weather as well as excellent safaris in Kruger National Park. The further south you go, the less good the weather becomes, but Cape Town and the Winelands has its own appeal at any time of year, and August also sees the start of the whale migration down on the Garden Route. Overall, this is a great time of year to travel.

 

Botswana’s most famous parks are in their peak seasons for game viewing during August. The Okavango Delta, Moremi, Chobe and the Linyanti area are absolutely world class at this time of year. The concentration of elephant around the Chobe and Linyanti region is matched nowhere else in Africa at any time of year. The Okavango Delta is still in flood and the entire area looks exceptional. As this northern part of the country is at its peak, the game has pretty much left the Pans and the Kalahari entirely – travelling to these areas starts to become inadvisable if you are searching for good game viewing.

 

Zambia in August is also in its peak season for travel. Africa’s finest walking destination, the Luangwa, is at its peak, with exceptional walking safari and standard game driving on offer in South Luangwa, and just walking in North Luangwa. The Lower Zambezi is an exceptional park at this time of year, a real favourite in the ADORE Africa office. Kafue is an extra park to consider for August holidays.

 

August sees Kenya’s biggest wildlife highlight in full swing with the annual wildebeest and zebra migration working its way through the Maasai Mara. Of particular focus are the river crossings, where the herds make the regular swims across croc-filled rivers.

 

Zimbabwe is currently in the middle of its peak season viewing time and all the parks are in their prime game viewing period. Victoria Falls is starting its low water season, a time that is regarded as best for white water rafting.

 

Namibia is superb at this time of year. The game viewing on offer in Etosha is at its peak, making the country’s finest safari destination a great addition to any itinerary here. Trips out to the desert and up the Skeleton Coast are thoroughly rewarding, with beautiful temperatures and clear skies.

 

Mauritius has warm days in August but can cool quickly in the late afternoon and evenings due to the eastern trade winds. We therefore usually recommend staying on the western and southern coasts where the beaches are better sheltered.

 

August in the Seychelles sees very little rain and temperatures at roughly around 26°C/79°F. Due to the Southeast Monsoon, the seas can be a little choppy in certain areas.

 

August is one of Mozambique’s coolest months but still offers a lovely tropical climate and is a peak time to visit. Temperatures during the day soar towards 30°C/86°F and then cool for the evening. This is also a great time for diving and fishing.

 

While August sees a slight increase in the frequency of rain, it should still be considered as one of the very best times of year to visit Rwanda. The very low levels of rainfall make for superb gorilla-trekking conditions. Despite this, the variable weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park make it hard to predict whether or not rain will fall. August is a peak month for Rwanda and booking early is essential, particularly with permit availability in mind.

SEPTEMBER

September is the heart of the dry season, the best time of year for big game viewing.

 

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With August, September is widely regarded as one of the two best months to travel to Africa. Visitors to the continent will find that travelling anywhere in ‘Safari Africa’ is outstanding for the sheer concentration of game to be found in any of the parks. Virtually everywhere offers very high-quality safaris, and it starts to become rather difficult to choose where to travel. The long dry season ends around mid-September in Rwanda. The Indian Ocean will see temperatures rising as you move out of winter.

 

Tanzania spoils you for choice. The Serengeti National Park is a huge attraction at this time of year, with the Great Migration the main focus as river crossings take place daily in the Lamai/Kogatende northern part of the park. Also, Tarangire is the centre of the region’s elephant migration. Combining these two migrations is a popular and very good itinerary. Selous, Ruaha and Katavi are the focal point of the region’s game and fabulous options for a less commercial safari than the northern parks can offer.

 

September is an equally superb time of year to be in South Africa. The north of the country, especially, guarantees very good weather as well as excellent safaris in Kruger National Park. The further south you go, the less good the weather becomes, but Cape Town and the Winelands have their own appeal at any time of year, and this period also sees the start of the whale migration down on the Garden Route. Overall, this is a great time of year to travel.

 

Botswana’s most famous parks are in their peak seasons for game viewing in September. The Okavango Delta, Moremi, Chobe and the Linyanti area are absolutely world class at this time of year. The concentration of elephant around the Chobe and Linyanti region is matched nowhere else in Africa at any time of year. The Okavango Delta is in flood and the entire area looks exceptional. As this northern part of the country is at its peak, the game has pretty much left the Pans and the Kalahari entirely – travelling to these areas starts to become inadvisable if you are searching for good game viewing.

 

Zambia in September is also in its peak season for travel. Africa’s finest walking destination, the Luangwa, is at its peak, with exceptional walking safari and standard game driving on offer in the south park, and just walking in North Luangwa. The Lower Zambezi is an exceptional park at this time of year, a real favourite in the ADORE Africa office. Kafue is an extra park to consider for September holidays.

 

Kenya in September is one of the best months for seeing the Great Migration in the Masai Mara. The quieter north of the country (Matthews Range, Laikipia, Lewa and Samburu) are also absolutely superb for game viewing at this time of year.

 

Zimbabwe has perfect conditions during September and with the main holiday season over visitor numbers are much lower. As water has become scarcer during the dry season, it is a lot easier to find wildlife around the more permanent water sources.

 

September is a great time to visit Mauritius with warmer weather than July and August. Mauritius moves into its summer in the next month and starts to get extremely hot and humid towards the end of the year.

 

The Seychelles are in their final month of the dry season with little rain and breezier weather than the hot months at the end of the year.

 

Namibia is superb in September. The game viewing on offer in Etosha is at its peak, making the country’s finest safari destination a great addition to any itinerary here. Trips out to the desert and up the Skeleton Coast are thoroughly rewarding, with beautiful temperatures and clear skies.

 

Mozambique is in its peak season with temperatures starting to rise during the day, although staying cool at night. With visitor numbers lower due to the end of most summer holidays, this is a fantastic time to visit the country.

 

While September is still considered dry season in Rwanda, there is a steady increase in precipitation, compared with July and August particularly. However, gorilla trekking is still nothing short of excellent. Despite this, the irregular weather patterns around Volcanoes National Park make it hard to predict whether or not rain will fall.

OCTOBER

October sees the first signs of the end of the famous dry season.

 

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The first rains start to hit certain regions later in the month, but you will still enjoy good game viewing in the majority of the countries with which we work. This rainfall does not usually affect the quality of safari – in some areas, it is simply a refreshing break from the high temperatures that characterise the end of the dry season. Temperatures are still on the rise in the Seychelles, Mozambique, and Mauritius, as these countries move towards the summer months.

 

Tanzania’s main parks are still in their peak seasons and the heat is much less extreme than in southern Africa’s main parks – specifically those in Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. We adore the dry-season parks in October – specifically Ruaha and Katavi, where the lack of visitors and high volume of game makes it a fabulous and authentic safari destination. In the north of the country, Tarangire’s elephant herds are at their largest, while the Serengeti sees an increase in river crossings as the herds start their journey south.

 

October is an interesting month to travel to South Africa because the Cape Town and Winelands regions are coming into its peak season with beautiful days and clear skies. The Kruger National Park & Surrounds is also impressive at this time of year because the rains have not yet set in.

 

If you can handle the heat, Botswana is good at this time of year. The heat drives the game towards the watering holes, swelling herds and making life easier for the predators as they hang out around the lakes and rivers. Chobe and the Linyanti see vast herds of elephant, while the Okavango Delta offers the herds a permanent source of water. Chitabe Reserve in the southern Delta and the herds in the Linyanti are awesome sights, while the Boteti River area south of Maun sees large build-ups of game on its banks.

 

As with Botswana, Zambia is a superb destination throughout October, as long as you can handle the high temperatures. Huge herds of buffalo and elephant move through the Luangwa Valley, while the populations of elephant in the Zambezi Valley are equally impressive. The general concentrations of game throughout all the parks are unbelievably high, so excellent for viewing.

 

Kenya in October is also at the end of its dry season and offers superb game viewing as well as excellent value with many camps dropping rates as visitor numbers start to decline.

 

Zimbabwe is starting to get very hot now, ensuring that wildlife is all concentrated around the permanent water sources, and offers tremendous game viewing.

 

October is the last month of the dry winter in Mauritius and the perfect time to visit before the country gets hot and humid during its summer months.

 

October is a very good month to visit the Seychelles as it is a transition month between the trade winds. The cooler southeast trade winds come to an end with the warmer northwest trade winds arriving.

 

October is the height of the dry season in Namibia, and one of the hottest months of the year. This is one of the best times for game viewing, as water is particularly scarce and wildlife is forced to congregate around the few remaining permanent waterholes. Daytime temperatures can reach 29°C/84°F and often hotter in the desert.

 

If you prefer temperatures in the higher 30 – 34°C/86 – 93°C, then October, approaching the end of the dry season, is a perfect time to visit Mozambique. The water is calm and clear, so diving conditions are ideal.

 

Rwanda in October is very much the crossover month between the dry season and the short rains, making gorilla-trekking conditions somewhat unpredictable. For the most part, days are still warm and sunny, meaning that gorilla treks are still highly recommended.

NOVEMBER

With the start of the rains as late as around mid- to the end of November, this is one of the best times to visit Botswana and to take advantage of the lower shoulder season rates.

 

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November is a tricky time of year to travel to Africa. However, if you choose your destination carefully, this month can be one of the very best. Both East and Southern Africa see low visitor numbers, and the lodges drop their rates to encourage business – the value on offer is first rate. Mozambique, Mauritius, and the Seychelles are all at the start of their summer months, so temperatures are high and there is a chance of afternoon thundershowers.

 

Tanzania also sees the majority of the country’s best camps dropping their rates in November. Some lodges drop rates by as much as 40%, making them extremely good value. One must remember that light rain is to be expected during this period, but that really is no reason not to travel to the country. However, we would recommend Northern Tanzania over Southern Tanzania towards the end of the month – this is due to the fact that the rains affect the game down south, whereas the Great Migration, Ngorongoro and Serengeti remain superb.

 

South Africa in November is a good country to visit throughout the month. This is a lovely time of year, especially in Cape Town and the Winelands. Spring is turning into summer and the weather is warming up nicely.

 

A few thunderstorms are normal in November throughout Botswana. However, do not let this put you off travelling at this time of year – these dramatic storms are awe-inspiring. Temperatures are still high, but the country is famous for its dry heat, so travelling at the hottest time of year is certainly bearable. The drop in rates is a huge incentive to travelling – some of Botswana’s most famous camps offer as much as 40% off, and the game viewing is still superb.

 

Kenya’s short rains usually start in mid- to late November and last for a few weeks. However, this does not detract much from a great game experience and Kenya is still a good destination for safari. The rains tend to come in the late afternoon and evening and daytime temperatures range between 24 and 30°C/75.2 and 86°F, with cooler mornings and evenings. November is also a very good month for birding.

 

November is a great month to visit Mauritius with temperatures having risen over the past few months but not yet too hot and humid. You can still get a little bit of rain and cloud but this usually comes in the form of short thunderstorms in the evenings. November is the start of peak season which runs through to April.

 

November is one of the best months to visit the Seychelles as it is a transition period between the hot, humid trade winds from the south-east and the cooler winds from the north-west. This means calmer conditions in both the sea and weather and makes it an ideal time to visit the beach and water-based activities, such as snorkelling and diving.

 

Namibia in November is quite a variable month. For the most part it is hot and dry, but with the onset of occasional thundershowers building up towards the end of the month. On average, temperatures can reach above 30°C/86°F during the day. This is also the onset of the calving season, which results in heightened predator activity.

DECEMBER

Kenya’s Maasai Mara, Laikipia, and Lewa, and Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro are simply superb.

 

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As the wet season starts to set in, game viewing becomes more difficult in Southern Africa, as waterholes across the country open up and the herds disperse into smaller group. The majority of Zambia and Zimbabwe is shut at this time of year, whereas South Africa still has enough concentrations of game to guarantee a top-quality safari. 

 

Tanzania’s light rains have a substantial effect on the movement of game in the lesser known reserves – Katavi, Ruaha and Selous see a dramatic shift in game volumes as herds disperse across these vast parks. The result is substantially more difficult big game-viewing. However Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is fantastic at this time of year, with the Serengeti’s Great Migration in full swing.

 

December is one of South Africa’s finest months, as the weather in Cape Town, Winelands and up the Garden Route is at its best. Safari is not as good as a couple of months previously, but the Kruger Natinal Park’s private reserves still offer excellent big game viewing – Timbavati is one of our favourite destinations for a South African safari at this time of year.

 

Kenya’s short rains are usually over by mid-December and the dry season is beginning. After the rains the scenery looks dramatically green and although this can make game viewing more difficult than the dry season, do not let this put you off. Kenya in December is a great month for safari and works extremely well for Christmas or New Year breaks, although you must book these key dates a long way in advance to get the best camps.

 

December is a great month to visit Mauritius with temperatures for the year reaching a peak in either December or January. The advantage of December is that humidity levels are not yet as high as January and so it is great beach weather for sun worshippers. As this is the summer rainy season you can get some sporadic tropical showers and thunderstorms, usually in the evenings, but are almost guaranteed 6 – 8 sunny hours each day.

 

December is a very popular month to visit the Seychelles and one of the warmest months of the year. During December the islands can be quite wet, with light winds and care should be taken to avoid the southern islands that are within the cyclone belt

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