When to Go
Dry Season – The dry season is synonymous with the peak season and is prime time to view wildlife. The availability of water becomes scarce which results in large concentrations of animals near waterholes and rivers. Additionally, the vegetation has dried out, allowing for greater success at spotting animals, especially on foot. This is the busiest time of year for the industry and it is reflected in the rates, which are at their highest. Because of the popularity of the season, I prefer to book small camps located in exclusive areas to avoid the chaos of too many safari vehicles jockeying for position at a prime wildlife viewing opportunity.
Green Season – My Favorite Season! The green season, also referred to as the rainy season, is typically the least busy time of year. Many equate the rainy season with the monsoons of Southeast Asia. This is not the case. Though periods of heavy rainfall can happen daily, storms pass quickly and give way to beautiful skies with incredible clarity. No dust!!! Some guides I worked with absolutely prefer the green season; less people, a colorful array of birds in breeding plumage, photography enhanced by a verdant landscape, and plenty of wildlife to see. Many animals give birth this time of year to take advantage of the bounty of new grasses. The rates during the green season are significantly lower than the peak and shoulder seasons. For the camps and lodges that remain open, a visitor can expect an unhurried, less crowded, and exceptionally intimate encounter with nature.
Shoulder Season – The shoulder season represents a transition from one season to the next; from dry to green, green to dry, a change in temperature (usually to the hottest time of year), or movement of wildlife. Rates fall somewhere between the highs of the dry season and the lows of the green season. This time of year is perfect for those who do not want to pay peak season rates, but want to maximize opportunities to spot game during a less crowded time in the bush.
Wildlife Driven – Wildlife patterns can be a major catalyst that influences visitation and rates at camps and safari lodges. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is a classic example. At the north end of the migration, visitors flock to witness the famous river crossings. At the southern end, the focus shifts to the calving areas where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest calves are born. The predator activity as a result, skyrockets. Lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena are extremely active hunting and one would be fairly unlucky to not at least witness a chase between predator and prey. As one would expect, the rates are at their highest while tracking this spectacle of the natural world.
Year Round – The best country for year round wildlife viewing is Botswana. Outside of the peak months, one can visit the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, or the private concession areas of the Linyanti/Selinda/Kwando regions at reduced prices. Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti are two other areas with good to excellent game viewing throughout the year with varying nightly rates.
- The Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Linyanti/Selinda/Kwando concessions, and Chobe National Park; July through October.
- Central Kalahari, Nxai Pan, Makgadikgadi; December/January through April.
- The Mara Reserve and Conservancies; July through October (includes the wildebeest migration) and December through March.
- Laikipia and Samburu Region; July through September and January through March.
- Tsavo, Aberderes, and Meru; July through September.
- Southeast Serengeti, December through March, calving season.
- North Serengeti, July through November, famed river crossings.
- West Serengeti and Grumeti, May through July.
- Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area; January through March and July through October.
- Volcanoes, Bwindi, Kibale, and Queen Elizabeth National Parks; All but April and May
- South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Parks; June through October.
- Kafue National Park, especially Busanga Plains in the north; August through November.
- Mana Pools; July through October.
- Hwangwe; July through October.
- Matusadona; June through November.