When is the Best Time to go on Safari?
In most parts of Southern Africa the rainy season is generally from November through to March. This is true for the safari areas. The Western Cape area, including Cape Town experiences winter rainfall. 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.
Indian Ocean Islands:
The weather patterns of the islands are similar to that of Southern Africa with summer rainfall, November through to March. The ideal time to visit is from May through to October.
Although these are general guidelines regarding seasonal weather patterns, please be advised that the weather can vary dramatically throughout your trip. Also keep in mind that people travel year round to most safari destinations. Each season has its advantages, so if you have set dates for travel, chances are you will be able to have a great trip no matter where you are going.
It is important to understand the seasonal trends and how they will affect your trip; but remember that weather is variable and so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the peak of the rainy season, or have thundershowers in the middle of the dry 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.
During the period of November to April of each year, Southern Africa experiences a transformation; the first rains bring on the antelope lambing season, flora comes into flower and the bird life is prolific throughout this period. This season delivers exciting new sights and experiences.
The best game-viewing period in Africa is during the dry season. Permanent water supplies attract animals and 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.
Given that it hardly ever rains in winter, the animals must come to the waterholes to drink in the mornings and afternoons and can easily be observed from a vehicle or hide. So as a rule, game viewing is best at the end of the dry season when temperatures are high. Unless game are on the move, as you'll find with migrations in the north-eastern Botswana, western Zambia and Kalahari.
Remember: There are no bad months, just different experiences. Africa is so diverse that there is always something to see and do. Certainly, climate should not be seen as the sole deciding factor in making the choice of when to travel.