Safari Time: When to Roam the Wilds of Southern Africa - A Guide for American Adventurers
Published: 27 October 2023
Are you dreaming of an adventure that takes you far from the mundane and into the heart of untamed nature? Southern Africa might just be the destination of your dreams! With its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, this part of the world offers an unforgettable safari experience.
We know this firsthand as Southern Africa is our ‘home’ - more specifically, Cape Town is Anywhere in Africa Safaris ‘home’, and while it may be further from the traditional Big 5 safaris, it is just a short flight away.
With over 30 years in the safari planning industry, we often get asked, “when is the best time for American travelers to embark on this wild journey?” So fear not, intrepid adventurers, for we've got the inside scoop on the ultimate safari seasons!
Dry Season Delights: May to October
Not a fan of being caught in a sudden downpour while tracking a leopard through the bush? Then the dry season is your go-to choice. Running from May to October, it's when Southern Africa is at its prime for safari enthusiasts. Read our recent blog from Kirsty Gordon’s educational stay in Botswana for more dry-season safari inspiration.
June to August: Wildlife Extravaganza
The months of June to August are an absolute treat for wildlife lovers! The parched landscape forces animals to congregate around the fast-dwindling waterholes, making game drives and sightings a breeze. In Southern Africa's most famous safari destinations like South Africa's Kruger National Park and Botswana's Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta, you're almost guaranteed to see the Big Five – lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo.
September and October: Birding Bonanza
As spring approaches, the dry season gives way to a glorious burst of colors and birdlife. Southern Africa is a bird-watcher's paradise during these months, with migratory species filling the skies. We often recommend that Twitchers visit places like Namibia's Etosha National Park, where the pan's waterholes are a hotspot for wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts alike. Another great option is visiting Zambia’s South Luangwa Park where there are spectacular photographic hides next to the famed Carmine Bee-eaters nesting places. For more information on photographic safaris, read one of our latest blogs here.
Green and Lush: November to April
The wet or "green" season from November to April offers an entirely different safari experience. While the lush landscapes might make wildlife slightly harder to spot, the beauty of Southern Africa in bloom is a sight to behold and the exciting afternoon thundershowers sure do cool down the hot days and provide even more entertainment and photo opportunities as storms roll in.
November and December: Baby Boom
If you've ever wanted to see adorable baby animals on the African savanna, these are the months for you. The wet season brings about an abundance of new life as many animals give birth. Witnessing young antelope, elephant calves, and lion cubs in their playful infancy is an awe-inspiring experience. As with all new life, there are also exhilarating scenes that are sometimes hard to watch as predators take advantage of the younger, less experienced or ‘street savvy’ individuals in the herds.
January to April: Amazing Deals and Fewer Crowds
This is the time for budget-conscious travelers, although that’s not to say that the experience is any less exciting! The green season offers excellent opportunities for discounted accommodations and fewer tourists. While wildlife can be more challenging to spot in the dense vegetation, it's a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a rejuvenated ecosystem.
A Few Tips for the Perfect Safari From The Seasoned Traveler
Book Early: No matter the season, planning your Southern African safari well in advance is crucial - we recommend booking at least a year prior, although in certain instances we can arrange safaris as short notice. However, it may require more flexibility on your side. The best lodges and experiences get booked quickly, especially during the peak dry season. For more information on why it's best to use an accredited travel agency like ourselves, over say Google, read this blog.
Pack Right: Ensure you have the appropriate clothing and gear for your chosen season. Light, breathable and warm clothing in the dry season and waterproof gear during the wet season are essential.
Embrace the Local Culture: Southern Africa is rich in cultural diversity. Take the time to learn about the local traditions and customs to enrich your safari experience. As locals ourselves, we can assist in truly immersing yourself in the different experiences and managing your expectations.
So, when is the best time for American clients to go on a safari in Southern Africa?
The answer depends on what you're looking for. Dry season for abundant wildlife sightings or the lush green season for a more budget-friendly adventure. Either way, Southern Africa is waiting to welcome you with open arms (and paws, and wings) for the safari of a lifetime. Don't just dream it; live it!
For more information on any of the above, please do get in touch with us for an obligation-free consultation where you can discuss your budget and bucket list with us.