Africa is home to splendid landscapes and amazing safaris. From game reserves to national parks, it has everything for visitors to go awe each time. Some of the biggest and most popular game reserves such as the Mashatu game reserve and Namib-Naukluft National Park attracts thousands of visitors each year. These game reserves and parks are home to the biggest land animals and splendid bird species.
However, Africa is a country that undergoes several weather changes throughout the year. It is both important for animal habitat and the ecosystem. Everyone wants to visit at a time when wildlife is at its peak, therefore a common question asked is what is the best time for safari? In this article, we are going to answer your question and share downsides as well.
Late May to August
If you were to ask anyone, they would swear by the fact that late May to August is perhaps the best time for a safari. Moreover, it is also a good time for game-viewing. The reason behind it is simple. Animals need both water and food. Therefore, most animals will gather around permanent water pools including elephants, lions, giraffes, and impalas. These water sources remain a permanent source of water during the dry winter months as well.
Going at a safari during the dry season increases your chances of spotting wild animals significantly. More than often, you will catch a glimpse of wildlife almost everywhere. With the progress of the dry season, more and more animals come out in search of food and will also be seen relaxing and cooling themselves down under tree shade. As the winter season approaches, the bushes turn less thick and it is easier to spot animals hiding behind thick woods and vegetation.
This also means that walking safaris become comparatively safer as the probability of a wild animal punching from the bush decreases as well. However, the daytime temperature becomes comfortable. As a result, you could stay out for longer and explore the area in an open vehicle. This will allow you to witness some of the most enchanting bird species.
Warm seasons tend to force animals to take shelter. Therefore, safaris take place either in the early morning or late afternoon, which increases the chances of animal encounters. Furthermore, more bird species could be observed as well, as migratory birds also find a temporary residence in parks and game reserves between October and March.
If you wish to visit Cape Town, then the best time to visit are the months of February, March, April, and August and September spring seasons.
Unfortunately, every season in Africa has a downside to it. It depends on how you cope with the weather and climate conditions but if you are able to withstand the heat, then you are good to go. As the winter season comes near, the landscape becomes dusty and bit unattractive. The nights as well become quite cool. In addition to that, since it is the peak safari season, you could expect prices to be comparatively higher as well.
The spring season ranging from September to October amplifies the dry winter game-viewing advantages. This is a season, which turns the animals more desperate and therefore they tend to visit the same water sources multiple times during the day. The reason being that many pans and water streams tend to dry as temperature rises. In terms of safari, this is also a great time to visit but only if you can withstand the heat.
You might have thought it couldn’t get any drier than the season of May/June, you were wrong. Try this time of the year when the weather becomes even drier. However, the situation might be different in areas close to rivers such as Chobe, Luangwa, and Zambezi. But in Moremi, Savuti, and Kruger, you will feel dryness significantly.
The safari industry terms October as the ‘suicide season. It becomes unbearably hot, especially in Zambia. Although game-viewing will make up for it but the heat is nothing close to being normal. Ultimately, your safari is bound to become less pleasant.
Early Summer (November-December)
The early summer season is a bit tricky and you will need to be a bit careful about it. During the month of November, most of Africa receives its first share of summer rainfall. This usually takes place in early November although sometimes at the end of October to late November. Although this season tends to beat the heat but for safari, it might not be a good time. The reason being that the animals have already eaten the grass here and they do not need to come out to drink water at ponds or streams, therefore, they scatter in different directions and sometimes very far away.
Furthermore, if you thought of visiting immediately after the rains, that might not be a good idea. In terms of safari, it will not be an ideal time, as new grass will pop up along with a lot of surface water, making the animals wander off into the grasslands.
This time, there is an upside
This time of the year gives birth to many young animals. Moreover, the vegetation turns lush green and if you are lucky, you might arrive just when the rains are about to start. Then again, it is a tricky season and you need to run it thoroughly in your mind.
Summer to Autumn (January- Early May)
The time between Summer to Autumn is definitely for the photogenics. From January to Early May, the bushes will be thicker and greener, making game-viewing more difficult. Furthermore, this time of the year is known as the ‘Emerald Season’, when the flowers bloom and butterflies along with colorful insects are a common sight. The sky highlights a variety of colors and dawn combined with sunset keeps the camera rolling. Additionally, game-viewing will not be as exciting as it would be during the dry season as the bushes are lush and animals would be harder to spot.
Mosquitoes could really become a problem during this time. Furthermore, it is recommended that you keep yourself protected from malarial mosquitoes as they come out in millions.
Concluding, it is now settled that the dry season from late May to August is the most preferable safari time. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that Africa is a hot country. Therefore, anyone who visits a safari should mentally prepare him/herself. It might not be a happy season but for wildlife it is. Game reserves and national parks welcome thousands of guests during this season, simply because it is worth sacrificing a bit of your comfort.