When to go to Africa
Are you looking to plan the ultimate safari trip to Africa, but you’re not sure when the best time is to go? When planning your trip, it is vital to do the necessary research on the best time to go to Africa for the experience you desire.
A vast and highly diverse continent, Africa offers some of the most incredible travel experiences, exhilarating safari adventures and authentic wilderness destinations, reserves, and national parks in the world.
From the 54 countries that make up Africa, 9 are renowned for their world-class safari destinations. These countries include South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, and Rwanda. Each of Africa’s safari destinations vary greatly by region and season. This will have an impact on your overall safari experience as well as when the best time is to travel to these destinations.
We’ve put together a guide on when the best time is to go to Africa based on the different seasons (wet season VS dry season & peak season VS low season), wildlife experiences and safari highlights in each country and safari destination.
The time of year/season is one of the top factors to consider when planning your safari trip to Africa. While Africa is known for its stunning year-round climate, primarily consisting of warm sunny days, certain countries, and even regions within those countries, experience different climates and seasonal changes.
Africa’s seasons can be divided into two distinct seasons: wet season and dry season. It is important to know what time of year each country and/or region experiences its dry and wet season as each season will offer safari-goers a vastly different experience.
Dry & wet season in Southern & East Africa
|Southern Africa||East Africa|
|Dry Season||May to October||January to March and June to October|
|Wet Season||Around November to April||Around April to June and November to December|
Dry season in Southern Africa typically takes place between May and October while the wet season takes place from December to March. Dry season is generally considered the best time of year to visit the various safari destinations located in Southern African.
Dry season highlights:
- Prime time for wildlife sightings as game viewing is at its peak (apart from Namibia which is great all year round).
- Optimal visibility due to sparse vegetation.
- The concentration of animals around water sources are at their highest. As the water levels are extremely low during dry season, wildlife will gather around the park’s surrounding water sources, offering visitors incredible and rewarding game viewing opportunities.
- Lovely and mild day-time temperatures and minimal rain.
- The risk of malaria is at its lowest.
- Best time of the year for walking safaris; providing visitors with a unique perspective of the region’s wildlife and surrounding scenery.
- Water levels reach its peak in the Okavango Delta, creating waterways and channels Botswana is famed for. This is the perfect time for mokoro, boating & canoe safaris
- Peak migration period for animals to the Okavango Delta.
Wet season highlights:
- Lush greenery and stunning surrounding scenery due to high rainfall.
- Parks are filled with new-born wildlife.
- Great time for bird watching as migrant birds are present and in breeding.
- Excellent photography opportunities due to scenic surroundings.
- Wet season is also low season in the parks which means the parks are far less crowded and lower rates apply.
- Peak predator season due to increased new-born wildlife.
Wildlife Experiences & Safari Highlights
Choosing the best time to visit a specific African country or safari destination depends on what you want to see and do on your trip as well as the safari and wildlife experiences you wish to tick off your bucket-list.
Here are the best times of the year to see some of the top wildlife experiences and seasonal spectacles in both Southern and East Africa.
|Experience||Best time to go|
|Safari in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia||May to October|
|Safari in the Kruger National Park||May – November|
|Cape Town beach holiday||November to March|
|Victoria Falls in full flood||February to July|
|Zebra migration in Botswana||November to February|
|Whale watching in South Africa||July to November|
|Mozambique beach holiday||May to November|
|Okavango Delta||June to October|
|Chobe National Park||July to October|
|Namibia||August to December|
|Experience||Best time to go|
|Tanzania for the Great Wildebeest Migration safari in the Serengeti||January to September & December|
|Kenya Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara||July to November|
|Most Kenya safari destinations and the major Tanzania safari areas||January to March | June to October|
|Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda||Year-round | Cooler months of January, February, June, July, August, September are typically the best time|
|Tanzania’s coast, Zanzibar, and other islands||June to March|
Peak Season VS Low Season
While some people prefer to travel in the peak or high season months, others like to plan their trips during the quieter months when the national parks, reserves and lodges are less crowded. Both the peak season and the low season offers safari goers a unique safari experience – It all comes down to your personal preferences, travelling style and requirements.
|South Africa||May to October|
|Botswana||November to April (excluding Christmas and New Year)|
|Zimbabwe||November to March (excluding Christmas and New Year)|
|Zambia||May, June, and November|
|Malawi||January to the end of April|
|Mozambique||March to June|
|Namibia||December to March, May, and part of June (excluding Christmas and New Year)|
|Kenya||March to June, November, and the start of December|
|Tanzania||March to June, November, and the start of December|
|Uganda||April and May|
|Rwanda||April, May, and November|
If you’re debating whether to travel to Africa during peak season or low season, here are some of the main benefits of each season.
|Peak or High Season||Low or Green Season|
|+/- June to October||+/- November to May|
|Highest rates||Lowest rates|
|Need to book up to a year in advance especially if you’re looking to secure the best accommodation options||No need to book so far in advance|
|Coldest, driest weather||Hottest, wettest weather|
|Premium game viewing & exceptional wildlife sightings. Drier conditions and thinner vegetation make game easier to spot. Game also don’t venture far from water sources making them easier to find||The dense greenery, thicker vegetation and often over-grown park conditions make game more difficult to spot. As low season typically coincides with rainy season, there are more water sources available. This means animals wander further (as opposed to dry season when they stay close to the limited number of water sources), making them harder to find.|
|Not many new-born wildlife species||Lots of new-born wildlife|
|Not the best time for bird watching. Only endemic bird species are present in the park||Great time for birdwatching as both endemic and migratory birds can be spotted|
|National parks, game lodges and reserves can become extremely crowded||Least crowded time of year with much lower visitor numbers. You are often the only vehicle at a sighting|
|High predator activity||More availability of accommodation|
|Great Wildebeest Migration: River crossings take place at Grumeti & Mara in Masai Mara in Kenya||High predator activity due to increased new-born wildlife|
|Great Wildebeest Migration: Rutting & calving in the Serengeti in Tanzania|