Best time to Visit Africa – Visit Africa for a wildlife safari & beach holiday
The best time to visit Africa turns from South to East to North, depending on the rainfall and wildlife. You can find a nice place for a beach holiday year-round, but most people go for exceptional wildlife safaris. In Kruger National Park, the winter dry season falls between May and October when game viewing is at its best, but to catch East Africa’s Wildebeest Great Migration, you will need to travel between June and September. Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is year-round, but the months of January-February and June-September are much cooler.
When to go to Africa and when not to?
South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana: For wildlife viewing, travel in the cool but dry months of July to October or early November in Namibia when wildlife clusters around the remaining waterholes. It can get busy, especially in hotspots such as Kruger National Park so book well ahead and expect higher prices. Animals disperse in the green season, from November to March, making it much harder to see wildlife although there are more young animals present at this period.
If you wish to visit Cape Town, the rain pattern is reversed with the scorching months of November to March being the driest period.
The countries of Zambia and Malawi are best visited from late May to November particularly towards the end of this period, as waterholes virtually dry up and the warmer spring temperatures are creeping up. This is also the best time for a walking safari adventure in Zambia. Some accommodation in remoter areas may close in soggy months of March to May.
The best time to go to Ethiopia is in the dry months of September to April and particularly in September to October when the land is still fresher and greener. Timkat, the biggest Christian celebration here, takes place in January. Mountain regions should be avoided in the long wet season. Cool and damp year-round, the long rains in June and July up to October with rain starting as soon as March in the Bale Mountains, create poor conditions for trekking, and clouds and fog obscure the glorious views. August is the coolest and wettest month but remember to bring very warm layers whenever you travel. Bale in particular can drop below freezing at night.
In the countries of Kenya and Tanzania, the highlight is the Great Wildebeest Migration and it is best from July to October when the Mara River crossing takes place. Wildlife is present all year, but the long rainy season in March to May having the heaviest rains from April to May, is not the best time to visit as wildlife disperses and is hidden by vegetation, and rain can make roads impassable. However, there are some great deals available during this period, so it’s worth considering if you are on a tight budget. Be aware that Kilimanjaro hikes are risky in the rainy season, and that afternoon downpours are heavier along the coast and islands. Some lodges in remoter southern Tanzania will close during this period.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, you will have to be prepared if you are going during the rainy seasons of November, and from March to May especially in Uganda, where treks usually take longer. It does not rain all day every day but comes in big bursts, and Mountain Gorilla tracking permits all the time available but if you aren’t a fan of rain, think about booking outside the rainy season.
Cyclones hit Madagascar in February, but changing weather patterns mean the cyclones are increasingly less predictable so avoid January and even March to be on the safe side. October to December is baby lemur season.
Spring and autumn offer the best weather for walking and cycling holidays in Morocco though expect dust storms in the desert from February to April. Avoid the Sahara in midsummer; temperatures will be much more pleasant on the coast.
Africa being a large continent, there are several different weather patterns and differences across this continent. The main rule of thumb is that across Southern Africa, except the Cape region the rains start towards the end of November and continue until March. The rest of the year is generally dry. In Cape Town and its surroundings, the months of June to September tends to be the wettest months. The rainy, or ‘green season, is not a bad time of the year to go on the African Safari though. It will be warm and the bush will be greener, so the animals will be harder to spot, but that is where your ranger guide/tracker earns their crust.”
East Africa has two dry and two wet seasons where the big rains are around March to April whilst the small rains are in December. Southern Africa’s climate is more seasonal with spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These are southern hemisphere seasons. Winter in South Africa during July and August can be cold and wet, and you may even see some snow in the Drakensberg Mountains. The most important wildlife event to be considered is the Great Wildebeest Migration in East Africa. Doing a loop around the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve, giant herds of wildebeest mixed with zebras can be seen. The best time to see them in the Serengeti National Park is the start of the year, and the best time to visit Africa and see them crossing the Mara River is in August to October, though it can vary from year to year.