October is Botswana’s hottest month and temperatures can exceed 40°C in the north of the country. The south is a bit cooler, but not by much. Nights in the south average between 15°C and 20°C, and in the far north are often much warmer. In the south and centre the rains usually come earlier, with the first afternoon thunderstorms bringing some relief. In the north, it rarely rains until the end of the month and the rainy season doesn’t start properly until mid-November. Despite the heat, October is a popular safari month, especially along the Chobe River which is famous for its herds of thirsty elephant.
In Moremi, the delta waters begin to drop, opening up the flood plains and providing much needed vegetation for the grazers. The drying pools also trap fish, which draw vultures and other scavengers in for a feast. Away from the delta, the vegetation is denuded and sparse – not at its most beautiful, but great for spotting predators. To the northwest, the panhandle’s barbell (catfish) run is still going strong and September and October are the best months to catch tigerfish.
By October, Botswana’s seen no rain for six months and the cloudless skies turn a pale, dusty blue – exactly the colour of Botswana’s flag! Be prepared for heat and dust and bumpy roads, but also for excellent wildlife sightings and long, warm evenings under the stars. It can be a particularly beautiful time to be on the pans, especially Baines’ Baobabs and Lekhubu Island. There may be no animals around at all and the midday heat can be intense, but the incredible dusty sunsets are worth it, as the light fades to pastel pinks and purples over the baobabs.