Many people spend their whole lives dreaming about taking a trip to Africa and about going on an African safari in particular. It is the trip of a lifetime, and when someone finally makes plans to go, they want to do it right.
Africa is a gigantic continent with fifty-four unique countries and six time zones. It is five thousand miles from top to bottom and four thousand six hundred miles across. Because of its vast size, the weather and climate vary depending on where you go.
Knowing this, you may be wondering what is the best time to go on safari. The answer to that question is not simple; there are different answers to it depending on where you wish to visit.
Planning a safari at the best time of year for your destination will not only ensure comfort during your trip, but it will also allow you to see the most wildlife. Since this is a trip most people only take once in a lifetime if they are lucky, you certainly want to return home with fantastic photos of animals and the incredible landscape to share with your family and friends.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about planning the best time to go on safari in Africa.
Seasons in Africa
Throughout most of Africa, there are two seasons. During the wet season, it rains on a daily basis and everything is green and thriving. When the dry season comes, on the other hand, there is little water to be found in many places.
The dry season forces animals to migrate to find water sources to survive. During this half of the year, the fauna of most countries are on the move and are less able to hide. Often, a variety of animals will congregate around the few water holes available.
Because of this, most people find the dry season to be the best time to go on safari. The animals let their guard down in favor of simple survival, and this can help you to get amazing photographs and to have an overall incredible and memorable experience during your trip.
However, keep in mind that the dry season in most places will also be very hot. Although you will not have to worry about your trip being rained out, if you are sensitive to heat, you may be uncomfortable during much of your trip. Most people find this to be a small price to pay for the chance to see animals in the wild that you normally only see in a zoo.
The Best Time to Go on Safari
Again, because of Africa’s vast size, the weather varies quite a bit from place to place. There is no one time of year where it is dry everywhere, and there is no time of year where everywhere you go will be rainy. You can go on a successful safari at any time of year if you choose the right place at the right time.
However, the best time to go on safari in most places is during the months we in the northern hemisphere think of as summer. Most countries in Africa experience their dry season during these months, and as mentioned above, this can be of great benefit to you on your trip.
The south-central country of Zambia is wonderful from April to November. Most people visit Zambia to see the incredible Victoria Falls, which are at their most spectacular in April. In the spring, many animals such as hippos, baboons, and warthogs visit the falls as well.
Throughout the summer, you can see large quantities of wild animals in Zambia’s many parks. In November, the wildebeest migrate in Liuwa Plain National Park; it is worth planning a trip around.
There is little chance of rain in Botswana from June through September, making this country a fantastic destination for safari. Many animals visit the Okavango Delta during this time to seek water. Many of the parks in Botswana are not accessible by road even in the dry season, so you may need to take a small plane to get there.
Uganda has many national parks and although many of the roads within them are impassible during the wet season, they offer spectacular views and sightings during the dry season. The big draw in Uganda is the Mountain Gorillas. It can rain at any time of year in Uganda, but there is far less water in the dry season.
Tanzania is the country that many people choose for their safari vacation due to it being an excellent viewpoint for the Great Migration, but that happens in February and March. During those two months, there are many baby animals and as a result, there is also a lot of predation going on which can result in some unforgettable photographs.
The dry season in Tanzania is from June to November and is another time that you will see a lot of animals due to their quest for water. The southern parks of Tanzania are best at this time of year.
The Great Migration passes through Kenya from July to October and visitors will see millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gnu there during these months, as well as the predators that pursue them. Because the vegetation is low at this time of year due to lack of water, it is easy to see them even at a great distance.
In Kenya, you may even get to see rare animals like the black rhino. These rare sightings will inspire stories that you will tell your friends for years to come.
Safari at Other Times of the Year
Although the countries above are the most common countries that people visit for safari vacations, they are certainly not the only places to go on safari and to see animals. Other countries in Africa that may be a draw for safari-seekers include Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Namibia, and even Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa.
You will perhaps only go on one safari in your lifetime, but realize that the types of animals you will see will vary depending on where you choose to go. Also, don’t discount the wet season – it too can be a great time for seeing animals, you just may have to look a little bit harder.
No matter where and when you choose to go, your trip to Africa will be unforgettable and will likely be a life-changing experience. Now that you know the best time to go on safari in Africa, it’s time to get planning! Check back often to never miss our latest!