Lions and elephants and cheetahs, oh my! For nature lovers, an African safari is the final word immersive getaway. Safaris supply a mix of wildlife encounters and opulent lodges, unbelievable thrills and peaceable, unplugged wilderness.
Though touring to the African bush is a superb expertise any time of yr, there are undoubtedly extra advantageous instances for wildlife recognizing. For instance, in East Africa, it’s possible you’ll need to time a visit to coincide with the good wildebeest and zebra migration. In Southern Africa, a visit on the similar time most infants are born affords some extremely particular moments watching newborns with their mamas.
I’ve visited Africa greater than a dozen instances and have gone on safaris in six completely different international locations, visiting each season.
Whereas I’ve seen unbelievable wildlife — together with lion cubs on a December journey to Botswana and spectacular herds of elephants in Zimbabwe on a Could safari — within the nonhigh seasons, I’ve additionally handled some fairly excessive climate as properly. For example, I’ve skilled intense rain storms in November and freezing temperatures in June.
Typically the perfect time to take a safari is when you’ve gotten flexibility in your schedule or can get the perfect charges. Nonetheless, if you wish to plan round the best possible time to identify wildlife, learn under to seek out out when to go.
What months are finest to go on an African safari?
The African continent is huge, comprising 54 distinctive nations and almost 2,000 languages. Most safaris happen in two most important savanna areas of the African continent: Southern and East Africa. The Southern Africa area consists of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. East Africa comprises the safari locations of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
Most of those locations have one factor in widespread: They’re positioned within the Southern Hemisphere. Even those that straddle the equator, similar to Uganda, observe the Southern Hemisphere’s climate patterns.
This implies the seasons on safari would be the reverse of what you are more than likely used to at dwelling. Summer season is December by way of February, winter is June by way of August, spring is September to November and autumn is March by way of Could.
The Southern Hemisphere’s winter and early spring — roughly June by way of October — is normally thought of safari excessive season as a result of it is the driest time of yr. Wildlife gathers round watering holes when water is scarce elsewhere, Mark Nolting of Africa Journey Firm says; this makes it simpler to see many species in a single location.
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In East Africa, the perfect time to go on an African safari is through the nice migration, when 1000’s of antelope and zebra transfer in huge herds to seek out water. That season is roughly December to March after which once more from June to mid-November.
There are some exceptions to this rule although.
In Botswana seeing wildlife from a mokoro, a kind of dugout canoe, is a well-liked exercise. That is why it is necessary to go to when there’s water within the passageways. The dry season supplies the identical viewing alternatives as above, so you need to be capable to spot sport anytime.
The personal reserves in South Africa additionally defy seasonality; sport is so dense in areas, such because the Sabi Sand Non-public Sport Reserve, that you need to be capable to spot wildlife regardless of the month or season.
Associated: Up shut and animal: Why strolling safaris are so worthwhile
When is the perfect climate for a safari?
The dry climate of the winter season, roughly June by way of September, is usually thought of the perfect climate for a safari. Be aware: It may be fairly chilly after the solar units, so convey a hat, fleece and gloves to maintain heat throughout early morning sport drives (although most safari lodges will present blankets and sizzling drinks, too).
The “inexperienced season,” because the rainier summer time months are sometimes known as, is normally additionally the most well liked time of yr. At the moment, you will encounter probably the most bugs, together with mosquitos, within the bush.
Shoulder season — the instances between the excessive season and inexperienced season, March to Could and October to December — normally affords reasonable temperatures and simply an occasional storm. This time generally is a nice choice for vacationers since that is when you will get higher pricing whereas nonetheless having fun with prime wildlife viewing.
Is there one good time to go for seeing wildlife?
We’re right here to let you know that it doesn’t matter what time of the yr you go to Africa, you’re assured to see wildlife. The density and ease of recognizing might change with the months and seasons, and a few species will probably be simpler to identify at sure instances of yr than others. Nonetheless, there’ll at all times be free-roaming animals massive and small in case you go to the African bush.
That stated, some instances have a bit extra to supply than others when it comes to wildlife viewing.
The best time to identify wildlife — that means you will spend much less time looking out throughout your morning and afternoon sport drive and extra time watching the animals — is through the dry season. This coincides with the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months, June by way of September, and normally reaches into October. Throughout this era animals will probably be looking for water and can typically congregate in the identical location round a water gap or stream.
Spring, roughly October by way of December, is one other prime time to go to. That is when many animals have infants, and the chance to see these newborns within the wild is really a particular deal with. It is also when the foliage bursts into bloom and migratory avian life return to their leafy houses.
Summer season brings denser foliage and a extra vivid panorama, and for twitchers (birders, as they’re identified on safari), visiting this time of yr affords huge rewards. It is more durable to identify wildlife with a considerable amount of dense development, although, so it’s possible you’ll have to spend one other day or two on safari to tick off all of the wildlife you are hoping to see.
Searching for extra planning recommendation for an African safari? Elsewhere’s native specialists in Botswana, South Africa or Tanzania will help you propose an epic wildlife journey to these international locations. (Be aware: Elsewhere is owned by TPG’s sister model Lonely Planet).