Planning a safari to Africa can be overwhelming and you will be considering – where to go, when to go, how long and can countries be combined, the weather, what to experience, suitability for solo travellers, honeymooners or families. Personal travel manager, Gail Hughes, breaks it down into bite sizes for you, by each month & destination along with a recommended itinerary:
Cape Town is tremendous at this time of year. The weather is warm, the festive season has ended, and the crowds have left. Hire a car and explore the Garden Route, venture to the beautiful winelands area, head inland along Route 62, the longest wine route in Southern Africa, and stop along the way at farm stalls and quaint towns. Before driving back towards the coast, explore Oudsthoorn, famous for the Cango Caves, ostrich Farms and the ever cute and mischievous meerkats. Drive along the Garden Route and up towards Port Elizabeth where you will find stunning lodges which offer brilliant game viewing. The great advantage, it’s malaria free so it’s fantastic for families.
Recommended itinerary: Cape Town, Self Drive & Safari
Botswana is generally an expensive safari destination, however from November to March offers great value for money. It is the “green season” which means after the rains, everything is green & lush, animals are still giving birth which attracts the predators, migratory birds are in abundance, the crowds are less, and lodges offer fantastic deals. This is the best time to see hundreds of Burchell’s zebra making their way from Boteti River (south of the Okavango Delta) to the Makgadikgaki & Nxai Pans in search of the green pastures, also closely followed by predators.
Recommended Itinerary: Best of Botswana
Kenya offers great game viewing in March as it is dry, and the game is concentrated close to water, making it easy to spot. The crowds are less, and safari lodges offer good value for money.
Recommended Itinerary: Magical Kenya
Tanzania also offers phenomenal game viewing during the months of February and March. The wildebeest and zebra’s have now moved to the Southern Plains of the Serengeti and Ndutu region and will give birth here, closely followed by predators. This region is renowned for its cats, especially cheetah. In the late afternoon thunderstorms will roll in over the Serengeti Plains making it picture perfect for photographers. End your safari with a few days on the Spice Island of Zanzibar. Again, great value for money, less tourists – it will feel like you have the place to yourself.
Recommended Itinerary: Summer time in Tanzania
Back to Southern Africa, autumn has begun, and it is a great time to explore the Greater Kruger region and private game reserves such as the Sabi Sands. The bush is not as dense as the summer months and game viewing becomes easier.
Recommended itinerary: Southern Africa Highlights
This is considered a shoulder season for Namibia. The days are warm and dry which provide excellent opportunities to observe wildlife around the waterholes, and the nights are not too cold either with plenty of lodges offering star beds, a must whilst in Africa. Namibia is perfect for a self-drive holiday or a combination of fly-in safari and a self-drive adventure. With plenty of accommodation styles on offer to suit all budgets.
Recommended Itinerary: Diverse Namibia
Zambia is worth exploring in June, as it’s coming to end the of shoulder season. Get in before the crowds arrive. Zambia is Africa’s best kept secret and home to the walking safaris.
If you are looking for a unique wildlife experience, then definitely try a walking safari. The guides in South Luangwa are so passionate and knowledgeable about their back yards. Whether it is a morning or afternoon walking safari, or for the more adventurous a 4-day walking safari from one bush camp to the next! The accommodation is rustic, yet comfortable and plenty of delicious food on offer. After your walking safari, head to Lower Zambezi for more adventure. The camps located right on the banks of the Lower Zambezi River offer game viewing, boat cruises, canoeing, fishing and walking safaris.
Recommended Itinerary: Livingstone / South Luangwa / Lower Zambezi
Rwanda & Uganda. Comfortable temperatures and minimal rainfall during this time makes it worth while to see the gorillas in either Rwanda or Uganda. It is considered peak season and permits are limited so booking well in advance is recommended.
Recommended Itinerary: Gorillas in the Mist
Safaris are in full swing now, in both Southern & East Africa. Winter has arrived, the bush is dry, the days are warm, and the evenings are cold, perfect for game viewing. It is peak season, so you will need to book early to get into the lodges/camps of your choice. National parks will be busy so definitely look at staying in private game reserves or concessions which will offer limited vehicles at sightings, bush walks and night game drives. The wildebeest migration generally starts from mid-July with millions of wildebeest and zebras crossing the river from the northern Serengeti into the Masai Mara. If time and budget allow, spend time exploring East Africa as well as Southern Africa as the airline network works efficiently to combine both regions.
Recommended Itinerary: Tanzania / Kenya Option
Summer is back, and temperatures rise, waterholes are drying out and animals seek shade and water where possible. If you love the heat then this time will suit, some camps/lodges do offer good value for money. Look at combining a safari with a beach retreat such as Mauritius or Seychelles.
Recommended itinerary: Bush & Beach