What’s the best time to go on safari in Africa? It’s a question we’re often asked, and the answer is, well … it depends, and whilst there are periods that are said to offer the best safari experiences in Africa, there are other times that offer better value.
We believe that no two safaris should be the same, and to determine what’s best for you, and your particular dream, we recommend a thorough consultation with Art of Safari, and you can CLICK HERE to schedule a personal safari consultation.
That said, it is possible to split the year into sections, each of which has its pros and cons for safari travel, so here’s our breakdown of what to consider when deciding on the best time to visit Africa on safari.
We believe your classic ‘best time to visit Africa on safari’ is when there’s a good mix of:
- Excellent game viewing
- Comfortable weather conditions
- The opportunity to witness truly iconic African events, like the Great Wildebeest Migration river crossings, the Okavango Delta in flood or the Zambezi River plunging over Victoria Falls at its fullest, sending plumes of mist high into the air.
- These peak-season periods come with the highest prices
- Some of the more popular destinations can get crowded
- The best time to go on a safari in Africa is when you can witness a Great Wildebeest Migration river crossing.
- To see Victoria Falls at their fullest, you need to know the best time to go on a safari.
- You'll need to know the best time to go on safari to see elephant migrating.
- If it's cubs you'd like to see, you need to know best time to go on safari.
- Flamingos flock during breeding season – it pays to know the best time to go on safari.
- The Okavango Delta waxes and wanes, so you need to know the best time to go on safari. © Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
- It's always wonderful to see buffalo on an African safari.
- It's a little known fact that zebra are also part of the great migration.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
A common misconception is that game viewing outside of the classic ‘best time’ isn’t good, the weather’s terrible, and there’s really no good reason to go. This simply isn’t true. Your ‘best value’ periods have the following attractions:
- Good, or even excellent, game viewing, as is the case in a destination like the Masai Mara during early December.
- Mid- and low-season pricing, often significantly lower than peak season
- The opportunity to visit Africa’s finest safari destinations and have them all to yourself (well, almost…)
- You might miss out on some of the really iconic wildlife and wilderness experiences
- The weather’s less likely to be perfect from sunrise to sunset, but it will still be pleasant enough.
- Hippo are a favourite on an African safari.
- For optimal game viewing, it's good to know the best time to go on safari. © Serian The Original
- Lion are a highlight of an African safari.
- Giraffe are wonderfully gentle creatures.
- Bateleur eagles are endemic to Africa.
- African wild dog can be found in Botswana and other parts of Africa.
- Leopard are majestic, as you'll see when on an African safari.
- Walking safaris are a wonderful way to see Africa. © Tanda Tula Field Camp
For the truly adventurous, we’ve characterised a period especially for you. This essentially covers the rainy seasons in East Africa: the long rains of April and May, and the short rains of November. While the rain can set in for a few days, you can generally expect bursts of heavy showers interspersed with clear weather. Here are the advantages of travel during these times:
- Low-season prices are often up to 50% lower than peak season, and many lodges offer further special offers, so you get truly excellent value
- Game viewing is pretty good, and with a bit of luck it can be excellent
- You’ll almost certainly have vast tracts of wildernesses such as the Serengeti all to yourself … a genuinely unique experience
- Due to wet and muddy roads, travel can be tricky, and you can often get stuck … however, the guides know how to deal with it, plus getting unstuck is always fun
- You might get caught in the rain when game viewing. However, open vehicles carry ponchos and pop-top vehicles can simply close the roof and carry on
- Going on safari out of season can often mean great sightings all to yourself. © Singita Serengeti House
- Hot-air ballooning is a thrilling adventure. © Angama Mara
- The best time to get discounted safari accommodation is out of season. © Saruni Samburu
- Seeing elephant against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro is a safari highlight.
- Impala are a common feature of African safaris.
- A sunset cruise on the Zambezi is simply wonderful. © Matetsi River Lodge
- Kids love going on safari. © Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp
- Rhino are a treat when on an African safari holiday.
To help you decide ‘where to go when’ and why we’ve created the following guide: