When and where to go on safari in Africa : Do you have a dream of driving a 4×4 and coming onto savannahs teeming with wildlife? Safaris provide a glimpse into the world’s most untamed environments and magnificent animals, making them a popular dream safari vacation for many people. Here’s the inside scoop on where to go on safari, whether you’re looking for tigers in the jungles of India or the Big Five on the endless plains of Africa. Our selection of top safari destinations is available for safari from January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December.
January to March.
Tanzania is still sunny and dry, but many African safari sites are about to begin their rainy season. The Serengeti becomes lush and green after rains in November and December, drawing herds of wildebeest to the southern Ndutu area to graze and give birth. This results in nail-biting big cat, wild dog and hyena hunts. Explore the Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks to see a rainbow of beautiful birds. You may also look for lions that climb trees and massive herds of elephants that meander amid twisted baobab trees.
Take advantage of Kenya’s hot, dry weather during this time of year, which is ideal for safari sightings near important watercourses. There’s plenty more to see in the Maasai Mara, Kenya’s safari destination known for its enormous herds of grazing game, Big Five creatures, and regal cats. Although less well-known, Laikipia has more wildlife than the Maasai Mara. Amboseli offers spectacular views of Kilimanjaro while spear-tusked elephants parade through the grasslands, and the Great Rift Valley is a birdwatcher’s dream, home to flamingos, pelicans, and migrating species. Look for the Special Five in dry, desolate Samburu: the Somali ostrich, gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and Beisa Oryx.
In Botswana, the dry season is here, with clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. For Big Five safaris from some of Africa’s best lodges, such as Chobe Game Lodge and Camp Xakanaxa, visit Chobe National Park or Moremi Game Reserve. Add a side trip to the Okavango Delta for the ultimate safari experience. This time of year, the delta maintains its water levels, drawing thirsty wildlife to its network of waterways. Discover the area in a traditional mokoro or by boat safari to witness herds of bathing elephants, crocodiles, hippos, and birds. Helicopter rides above the Delta offer a unique perspective of this UNESCO marvel from above.
July to September.
The dry season in Zimbabwe is already underway, luring wildlife to essential water sources for breathtaking encounters. Experience a magnificent base for game drives and walking safaris with a tented suite at Nyamatusi, the sumptuous location for a Zambezi water safari in Mana Pools National Park. Huge herds of elephants and big cats alike are drawn to Hwange National Park by a system of artificial waterholes. Assist in delivering supplies to these vital water sources by participating in pump runs and parking your vehicle for animal observation sessions. Even the white rhinos that have been brought back to Hwange can be met. The UNESCO-listed Victoria Falls, which daredevils can experience by zip lining or taking a helicopter ride, should be included in your itinerary.
Make advance plans to secure a highly sought-after hiking permit in Rwanda if you’ve always wanted to observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. With dry weather and temperatures in the teens to mid-twenties, this is the best time of year to go trekking and see these endangered animals. Make Volcanoes National Park your home base; it is home to about 340 gorillas. After long days of enchanting sightings, retire to a luxury lodge just outside the park; Wilderness Sabyinyo and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest include everything from treehouse suites to fireside dinners with volcano views, swimming pools and massages to ease your aching trekking muscles.
Kenya and Tanzania.
Want to be in the front row of the best wildlife show in the world? Visit the Maasai Mara or Serengeti to see the Great Migration. Massive herds of zebra, wildebeest, and antelope start their annual journey from the parched Serengeti in the early summer and cross the Mara River to reach the lush plains of the Maasai Mara in August. Take in the action on thrilling wildlife drives that include big cat hunts and river crossings plagued by crocodiles, or take a hot air balloon safari.
Exquisite tented safari camps in the Out-of-Africa style are available in both countries; they include the original Governors’ in Kenya, which is the setting for the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries, and Serengeti Bushtops in Tanzania. Guided bushwalks and picturesque sundowners will be included in your 4×4 safari excursions, which will include visits to traditional Maasai villages. Take a beach break on the sun-drenched Mombasa Coast or the spice-infused Zanzibar Island to round off your safari in style.
Enjoy the warm weather and bright skies of South Africa. Although October in Kruger National Park still sees some dry weather before the rainy season begins, this is the ideal time of year to go on a safari in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Follow the Garden Route and through the end of November, Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay will provide you the chance to see migrating whales and dolphins. Big Five sightings and luxury lodges with bush walks, 4×4 game drives, and river cruises are offered by private game reserves like Kariega and Shamwari. Visit Shamwari’s Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and Kariega to learn about rhino conservation and wildlife preservation.