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Best Time To Go On Safari In Africa (Calendar)

Susan Swanepoel

Author: Susan Swanepoel - 30 January 2024

Last Update: 28 August 2023

Part of the African Safari Collection

With the “best time for an African safari” being a common query, this article delves into the monthly breakdown of safari experiences across Africa, providing insights on what to expect from January to December.

Embarking on an African safari is a dream for many, offering a unique blend of adventure, natural beauty, and unforgettable wildlife encounters. However, the experience can vastly differ depending on the time of year you choose to visit.

Whether it’s witnessing the majestic wildebeest migration in Tanzania, partaking in thrilling gorilla trekking in Rwanda, or exploring the lush landscapes of South Africa, timing plays a pivotal role. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to choose the perfect time for your African safari adventure.

Safaris in January

January marks the onset of the ‘Green Season‘ across much of Africa, as the landscapes transform with the rains, rejuvenating the terrain and filling the once barren land with fresh grazing. As waterholes become ever-present, animals disperse far and wide, making the spectacle of wildlife movement a sight to behold.

However, for those with a keen interest in big game viewing, Tanzania and Kenya stand out as top choices for safari in January due to their prevailing dry conditions. Similarly, Rwanda, nestled in East Africa, offers excellent opportunities for gorilla trekking during its dry spell.

Best time to visit Africa
January marks the “green season” in Africa

Despite being the rainy season in South Africa, destinations like the Cape and the Garden Route remain popular and delightful.

Moreover, January is a special month in Tanzania’s Southern Serengeti, with the wildebeest migration’s calving season in full swing, luring numerous predators, and offering breathtaking scenes of nature’s cycle.

Highlights on a safari in January

  • Big game viewing in Tanzania and Kenya, still in their dry seasons.
  • Gorilla trekking in Rwanda during its dry season.
  • South Africa’s Cape and Garden Route are at their best, even in the rainy season.
  • Lush vegetation, spectacular scenery, and fewer visitors in many safari countries.
  • Wildebeest calving season in Southern Serengeti, Tanzania, attracting numerous predators.
  • Zebra migration in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana.
  • Ideal gorilla trekking conditions in Uganda during its drier period in January to February.

Best destinations to visit in January

  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania

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Safaris in February

February is one of the best times for big game viewing in Africa, with Tanzania and Kenya offering exceptional safari tours as they escape the heavy rains. A dry spell brings prime gorilla trekking opportunities and abundant wildlife sightings, with adorable baby animals making their debut to steal your heart.

African Safari Calendar
By February, the majority of ‘Safari Africa’ is in its heavy rains.

The Southern Serengeti comes alive with the wildebeest calving season, where massive herds gather and predators prowl, creating unforgettable wildlife encounters.

Highlights on a safari in February

  • Exceptional big game viewing in Tanzania and Kenya, escaping the heavy rains of other regions.
  • Thrilling predator action in the Southern Serengeti during the wildebeest calving season.
  • Ideal gorilla trekking conditions in East Africa during a dry spell between the long and short rains.
  • Botswana’s salt pans filling up and attracting an array of wildlife.
  • Cuteness overload with the presence of numerous baby animals in various regions.

Best destinations to visit in February

  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda

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Safaris in March

March is an exciting time to visit Tanzania, with the Great Migration in full swing and a multitude of newborn wildebeest joining the herds. Witness the captivating spectacle of large wildebeest groups traversing northward from their breeding grounds in the Southern Serengeti, with adorable calves in tow.

When to go to Africa
March is a great time to take advantage of low-season deals

A South African safari is also a great choice this month, offering milder weather, fewer visitors, and excellent wildlife sightings in places like Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

Highlights on a safari in March

  • The Great Migration in Tanzania, with huge herds of wildebeest on the move.
  • Newborn wildebeest calves joining the migration in the Southern Serengeti.
  • Excellent wildlife viewing in Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa.
  • Fewer visitors in South Africa, providing a more exclusive experience.

Best destinations to visit in March

  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania

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Safaris in April

April brings an extraordinary transformation to Africa’s wilderness, with the Serengeti buzzing with the activity of the Great Migration and the southern landscapes bathed in the lushness of the rainy season.

Best time for African Safari
April brings an extraordinary transformation to Africa’s wilderness

Botswana’s Okavango Delta transforms into a water paradise, offering unforgettable mokoro adventures and spectacular wildlife retreats on Chief’s Island. The awe-inspiring sight of Victoria Falls in peak flow is a must-see, a humbling experience that highlights the power and majesty of nature.

Highlights on a safari in April

  • Witness the peak of the Great Migration’s activity in the Serengeti despite East Africa’s unpredictable weather.
  • Southern Africa’s safari areas thrive after the passing of the rains, offering lush green landscapes and exceptional birding opportunities.
  • Explore Botswana’s Okavango Delta as floodwaters arrive, providing unique dugout canoe experiences and rewarding walking safaris.
  • Victoria Falls reaches its peak flow, offering a humbling and awe-inspiring sight.
  • Enjoy walking safaris and game drives on Chief’s Island as wildlife retreats due to rising water levels in the Okavango Delta.

Best destinations to visit in April

  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

Book an April Safari

Safaris in May

May emerges as a captivating month for safari enthusiasts, particularly in the realms of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the picturesque landscapes of Namibia. As East Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, is engulfed by the climax of its heavy rains, the predictability of each day becomes an exciting gamble. Conversely, in southern Africa, the curtain falls on the green season, gradually thinning out the bush and drawing animals towards perennial water sources.

Best time to visit Africa for Safari
The end of the green season in southern Africa leads to clearer views and lots of animals around waterholes

This shift to the dry winter season is complemented by mild weather, setting the stage for optimal wildlife viewing experiences. Furthermore, the allure of pristine beach holiday destinations such as Mauritius and Mozambique heightens, with dry days and cozy temperatures offering a serene backdrop. With the rains receding in East Africa, opportunistic travelers can seize low-season deals, making May a treasure trove of diverse experiences.

Highlights on a safari in May

  • The end of the green season in southern Africa, leading to clearer views and animals congregating around permanent water sources.
  • East Africa’s rainy crescendo: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania see their heaviest rainfall which presents a golden opportunity with low-season deals.
  • Beach getaways beckon: Mauritius and Mozambique offer dry days with comfortable temperatures.

Best destinations to visit in May

  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

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Safaris in June

June marks a pivotal moment in Africa’s safari calendar, transitioning from the rains into the iconic ‘dry season which is one of the best times to visit Africa. This shift drastically elevates game-viewing experiences across the continent. From the spectacular vistas of Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater to the mystique of gorilla trekking in Rwanda, East Africa paints a vivid canvas, albeit with a minor chance of rain. Meanwhile, southern Africa unfurls its splendor, with South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe showcasing prime safari encounters.

African Safari Calendar
Transition from rainy to iconic ‘dry season’ across Africa

The subsequent dry months, spanning from June to September, become the apex for wildlife enthusiasts. During June and July, the Western Corridor of the Serengeti pulsates with the drama of the wildebeest migration, especially as these majestic herds attempt treacherous Grumeti River crossings.

Along South Africa’s eastern coastline, the marine world is in a frenzy with the awe-inspiring sardine run. This natural spectacle, featuring billions of migrating sardines pursued by an ensemble of sharks, dolphins, whales, and seabirds, is a visual feast for any visitor.

Highlights on a safari in June

  • The transition from rainy to iconic ‘dry season’ across Africa.
  • Exceptional game-viewing experiences in Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Mystical gorilla trekking opportunities in Rwanda.
  • Prime safari encounters in southern Africa, notably in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
  • Perfect beach retreats with clear days in Mozambique.
  • Dramatic wildebeest migration in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti, particularly the Grumeti River crossings in June and July.
  • The unparalleled sardine run on South Africa’s east coast, with billions of sardines being trailed by sharks, dolphins, whales, and seabirds.

Best destinations to visit in June

  • Botswana
  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe


Safaris in July

In July, the African landscape transforms as the dry season reaches its pinnacle, making it one of the most exceptional times to embark on a safari. Every park in each country showcases nature in its full splendor, making the decision on the best game destination quite challenging.

July heralds the peak season, with virtually all regions offering unparalleled safari experiences. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda becomes a treasured activity, with the conditions becoming ideal. Over in the Indian Ocean, the tranquil and warm waters of Mozambique beckon, although certain parts of Mauritius experience slightly gustier winds.

Best times for safaris in Africa
July is the optimal time for safaris across Africa with every park in full swing

Uganda and Rwanda, although typically damp throughout the year, witness reduced rainfalls, further enhancing the gorilla trekking experience. However, South Africa’s winter chill sets in, making its sun-soaked beaches and attractions like Cape Town more suited for summer visits.

A standout during this month is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Despite being the heart of the dry season, the delta boasts high water levels, ideal for dugout-canoe adventures. Victoria Falls presents itself in a photographer’s dream setting with moderate water volumes and minimal spray obstructions.

Highlights on a safari in July

  • July is the optimal time for safaris across Africa, with every park in full swing.
  • Ideal conditions in Rwanda make gorilla trekking a prime activity in July.
  • The Indian Ocean boasts warm and calm waters in Mozambique
  • The Okavango Delta in Botswana has high water levels in the dry season, perfect for dugout-canoe trips.
  • Victoria Falls offers great photo opportunities with moderate water volumes
  • Massive herds of elephants convene in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and around the Chobe River in Botswana.

Best destinations to visit in July

  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Mozambique

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Safaris in August

August, sitting at the core of the dry season, is undeniably the pinnacle for African safaris, offering unparalleled experiences throughout Africa. As the Great Migration majestically progresses from the northern Serengeti into Kenya, it competes for the title of the continent’s most magnificent safari spectacle.

Meanwhile, the impeccable conditions in Rwanda pave the way for pristine gorilla trekking, with clear skies enhancing the experience. In the southern territories, notably in Botswana and Zambia, the safari offerings are world-class, becoming irresistibly enchanting in August.

Safari Calendar for Africa
August is undeniably the best time for African safaris

Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park becomes a magnet for thousands of elephants, while the concluding phase of the Dry season transforms Mana Pools into an ideal backdrop for walking safaris. South Africa’s Namaqualand, typically a semi-desert, undergoes a breathtaking metamorphosis, blossoming into a vast expanse of vibrant flowers by the end of the season.

Highlights on a safari in August

  • The Great Migration progresses from the northern Serengeti into Kenya, competing as the continent’s top safari spectacle.
  • Rwanda offers pristine gorilla trekking conditions with clear skies.
  • Southern territories, especially Botswana and Zambia, provide world-class safari experiences in August.
  • Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park attracts thousands of elephants.
  • The end of the dry season in Mana Pools is perfect for walking safaris.
  • South Africa’s Namaqualand transforms from a semi-desert into a vast expanse of vibrant flowers.

Best destinations to visit in August

  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Mozambique

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Safaris in September

September is an absolute safari treasure in Africa, with an abundance of wildlife and unforgettable experiences at every turn. Across the continent, the concentration of game is astonishing, making it challenging to choose a destination as virtually every park offers top-tier safari tours.

When to visit Africa
September is prime time for whale watching along South Africa’s southern coast

From the climax of the wildebeest migration with thrilling Mara River crossings in northern Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara to the awe-inspiring sight of whales along South Africa’s southern coast, peaking in Hermanus during their annual whale festival.

Highlights on a safari in September

  • Exceptional wildlife viewing across the continent due to high concentrations of game in many parks.
  • Thrilling climax of the wildebeest migration, with epic river crossings in northern Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.
  • Experience the annual whale festival in Hermanus offering the best opportunities to see these majestic giants.
  • Long dry season ending in Rwanda around mid-September, providing an optimal climate for various activities.
  • Rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean as the region moves out of winter, making it a great time for beachside activities.

Best destinations to visit in September

  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Mozambique

Book a September Safari

Safaris in October

October in Africa is a thrilling time for safari enthusiasts, offering incredible wildlife encounters and picturesque landscapes. As animals search for water, witness magnificent elephant herds congregating along the Chobe River or a diverse array of species gathering at waterholes in Namibia’s Etosha National Park.

Best times to visit Africa for Safari
Incredible wildlife encounters and picturesque landscapes

Despite the onset of the first rains, the majority of regions still provide excellent game-viewing opportunities, and the incoming showers are a refreshing respite from the soaring temperatures, enhancing the overall safari experience.

Highlights on a safari in October

  • Exceptional wildlife viewing, with animals congregating at water sources.
  • Massive elephant herds gathering along the Chobe River, offering incredible sightings.
  • Diverse species sharing waterholes in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, creating unique photo opportunities.
  • Thousands of hippos crowding the remaining river pools in Tanzania’s Katavi National Park.
  • Continuation of the wildebeest migration across the Masai Mara National Reserve.
  • The first rains of the season provide a refreshing break from the high temperatures of the dry season.
  • Rising temperatures in Mozambique and Mauritius as these countries move towards their summer months.

Best destinations to visit in October

  • Namibia
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique

Book a Safari

Safaris in November

November is a hidden gem in the African safari calendar. Despite the onset of rains, savvy travelers can enjoy low visitor numbers, discounted rates at lodges, and vibrant landscapes that come alive with migratory birds in their resplendent breeding plumage.

Safari Calendar
November welcomes lush landscapes and the return of vibrant greenery

Furthermore, the summer months usher in the magical sight of sea turtles laying eggs on South Africa’s beaches, making it a truly special time to explore the continent’s natural wonders.

Highlights on a safari in November

  • Low visitor numbers for a more exclusive safari experience.
  • Discounted rates at lodges offer excellent value.
  • Lush landscapes and the return of vibrant greenery.
  • Fantastic birding with migratory species and birds in breeding plumage.
  • Sea turtles laying eggs on South Africa’s sandy beaches.
  • Start of summer in Mozambique and Mauritius with high temperatures and occasional afternoon thundershowers.

Best destinations to visit in November

  • Botswana
  • Kenya
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Book a November Safari

Safaris in December

As the wet season begins in southern Africa, the landscape transforms into a verdant paradise, with waterholes replenishing and wildlife dispersing into smaller groups. Although many regions close for the season, South Africa offers enduring game-viewing experiences.

Best Time for African Safari
December welcomes Botswana’s ‘Emerald season,’

The most mesmerizing spectacle is Botswana’s ‘Emerald Season’ where rain beckons over 20,000 zebras to embark on Africa’s longest mammal migration from the Chobe River to Nxai Pan National Park – an unforgettable sight!

Highlights on a safari in December

  • Low visitor numbers for a more exclusive safari experience.
  • Discounted rates at safari lodges offer excellent value.
  • Lush landscapes and the return of vibrant greenery.
  • Fantastic birding with migratory species and birds in breeding plumage.
  • Sea turtles laying eggs on South Africa’s sandy beaches.
  • Start of summer in Mozambique and Mauritius

Best destinations to visit in December

    • Botswana
    • Kenya
    • Rwanda
    • Uganda

In conclusion, each month in Africa offers a distinct and magical safari experience, shaped by the seasonal dynamics of this diverse continent. From the vibrant greenery and abundant wildlife of the ‘Green Season’ to the dramatic wildlife encounters of the dry months, there’s no wrong time to embark on an African safari.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of the Great Migration, the thrill of big game viewing, or the charm of quieter, less-traveled paths, Africa’s wilderness beckons with open arms. Remember, the best time for an African safari is not just about the weather or wildlife; it’s about what you seek from this once-in-a-lifetime journey. So, pick your month, book your safari, and prepare to be enchanted by the wonders of African Safaris.

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