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The great migration in Kenya

When is the best time to go on safari?

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Africa’s seasonality is legendary. It’s what creates the life-and-death drama on the savannah, it’s the reason for the Great Migration and the elephant corridors in Southern Africa. Conventional safari wisdom recommends that you travel in the dry season (June to October for the majority of sub-Saharan Africa). Water is scarce at this time, so animals tend to congregate at water sources, making them easier to spot, for safari-goers and predators. But, we thoroughly recommend journeying to parts of Africa just after the wet season. At this time, the savannah is green, the woodlands teem with birdlife, and there are fewer visitors to the parks, offering you a remoter, wilder safari.

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Month-by-month guide for travelling on safari

Mother and young cheetah

Travelling on safari in January

The hot summer of South Africa’s Eastern Cape means high temperatures and zero rainfall, which provides good opportunities to spot the Big Five in the region’s malaria-free private game reserves. We also recommend Kenya in January, if you want to see newborn animals. The fresh rains create a carpet of green on the savannah that supports the annual baby boom of plains game.

Vibrant colours of the Southern Carmine Bee-Eater

Travelling on safari in February

Green season in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve is the best time to track huge packs of wild dog hunting impala, a rare experience in most other months. Migratory northern carmine bee-eaters also make Selous their home in February. This is the time to witness them dive bombing as your safari vehicle flushes out small insects and other prey.

The zebra migration passes through Makgadikgadi Pans during the green season

Travelling on safari in March

In Botswana, the longest migration among African mammals sees a few thousand Burchell’s zebra walk for nearly 480 km (300 miles) back and forth from Botswana to Namibia. They’re best seen in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana’s south. The rains across the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa make many of the roads impassable, leading to a tricky month for safari.  

Black maned lion

Travelling on safari in April

Temperatures are cooling down in South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as the wet season ends, turning this usually arid region into an attractive and adventurous safari destination. Black-maned Kalahari lions enjoy a glut of newborn prey, and a termite population explosion draws raptors and other migratory birds to feast on this seasonal banquet.

Elephant in the river, Botswana

Travelling on safari in May

Kruger National Park is in its dry season. As the vegetation thins out, the bush starts to reveal the wildlife previously hidden by dense foliage. As the season changes, the chilly mornings are ideal for a walking safari in one of the private game reserves that encircle the Kruger. East Africa experiences heavy rains and many camps close. We do, though, love Botswana in May, when the bush is still thick with vegetation but the animals are healthy and prices are lower.

Victoria Falls at low-water

Travelling on safari in June

Experiencing Victoria Falls at any time of year is impressive, but in June the water levels are slightly lower so the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray. You can add three days at the falls onto most safaris, but Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe particularly stands out at this time, when its dry season begins and it’s rich with wildlife.

Beautiful floodplains that make up the Okavango Delta

Travelling on safari in July

July is a special time for safari, as the dry season is in full swing across East and Southern Africa. In Botswana, a great phenomenon occurs as the rains in faraway Angola move downstream and flood the Okavango Delta. Scenic flights offer you views over this huge wetland, though lodge prices are also at a premium.

Wildebeest cross the Mara River during their Great Migration

Travelling on safari in August

The Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra are creating quintessential safari images as vast hordes cross the Mara River between Tanzania and Kenya on their perennial search for fresh forage. Most safari-goers want to see a crossing, so you’ll often share this special experience with many other visitors, which can be off-putting for some.

Leopard relaxing on a fallen tree

Travelling on safari in September

As the dry season really sets in across East and Southern Africa, September is a popular choice for wildlife viewing. South Luangwa in Zambia is known for its walking safaris and prolific sightings of leopard, which are even easier to spot in the parched land at this time. Mornings are chilly, so we  recommend getting out in the bush early before the temperatures rise and wildlife seeks out shade.

Black rhino in Etosha National Park

Travelling on safari in October

In northern Namibia, October is an overlap month as the onset of the rains creates some greenery to the desert. As the weather changes, the lodge prices do, too, and you can find some good-value options across southern Africa in the late part of October. Visitor numbers also drop, creating some truly remote wilderness experiences. 

An egret takes flight in the Serengeti

Travelling on safari in November

After months of the dry season, temperatures start to soar and the rains hit most of Southern Africa and parts of East Africa. Mahale Mountains National Park in western Tanzania experiences peak birdwatching season, as the forest comes alive with migratory birds and butterflies, and the park’s many waterfalls are in full flow. The clear air and lushness of the forest create a photographer’s dream.

Elephant crossing, Masai Mara

Travelling on safari in December

If you’re looking for a luxury safari at a fraction of the cost, December is a great time to plan for. The short rainy season and high temperatures will put off some people, but there’s good wildlife spotting in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, and the Masai Mara is green and full of elephant but laden down by very few vehicles. Some flexibility with dates is required due to the Christmas travel season.

Our recommendations for when to go on safari

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
South Africa climate guide ›

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Best time to visit

Best time to visit

Best time to visit

Best time to visit

Best time to visit

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Botswana climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Kenya climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is not recommended

Travel is not recommended

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Malawi climate guide ›

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Mozambique climate guide ›

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Namibia climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Rwanda climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Tanzania climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is not recommended

Travel is not recommended

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Uganda climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Zambia climate guide ›

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year

Zimbabwe climate guide ›

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

The best time to travel

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of

Best time to visit

Best time to visit

Good time to visit

Good time to visit

Travel possible

Travel possible

Not recommended

Not recommended

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