One of the most often asked questions by adventure travellers wanting to go on a wildlife safari is "when is the best time to go on safari in Africa?".
There is no one simple answer to it, but first-time visitors will likely want to maximize their animal sightings. This is best done in the dry season, when available surface water dries up and animals congregate around the few available water holes. Furthermore, leaves will have dropped off the bushes and trees, making animals much easier to spot.
The dry season in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe runs from April to October and into November. In Kenya and Tanzania the dry seasons are from July to October and January through February.
Having said that, although game viewing is at its best during the dry season you will still see a considerable number of animals during the green season, including young ones. Rain tends to come in afternoon showers and the green season is a great time to see lush landscapes, flowers and fantastic sunsets.
Here are the best times to go on a wildlife safari in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The best time for game viewing in Botswana is the dry season from April to October. During the other months landscapes are lush and young animals are born. November through April make for great birding in the Okavango Delta. The otherwise bone-dry Central Kalahari, Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pans are great to visit from December to February to see migrating zebra, elephant and buffalo.
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Victoria Falls are spectacular any time of the year, however, water levels do differ. The best time to visit Victoria Falls is from February to May, when the volume of water is at its greatest. June to August still sees a good amount of water plunging over the falls, and it is prime time for a safari in neighbouring Botswana.
The best time for wildlife viewing in the north-east of South Africa, in the area around Kruger National Park, is the dry season between April and November. The south coast and Cape Town can be visited year-round, but get cool in July and August.
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Travel to Namibia is possible year-round, but game viewing in Etosha is at its peak during the dry season between March and November. In the wet season, landscapes are wonderfully green, Sossusvlei may fill up with water and young animals are born.
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The best time for game viewing in Kenya is one of the dry seasons, between June and October as well as January and February. The famous wildebeest herds are in the Mara in September and October.
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The best time for wildlife viewing in Tanzania is one of the dry seasons, between June and October as well as January and February. The famous wildebeest herds move around the Serengeti between November and August. Mount Kilimanjaro is best climbed either between July and October or January to March.
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Travel to Rwanda, including gorilla viewing, is possible year-round but the best time is during the dry seasons, which run from mid-May to September and mid-December to mid-March.
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