The best time for an African safari is during the southern hemisphere’s winter months of June, July, and August, leading into spring in September. Temperatures are lower and the drier climate unveils an abundance of wildlife in search of water and warmth.
Enjoy mild days, fresh mornings, and cool afternoons as you venture out on game drives, safari walks, and boating activities. Bird lovers will find the late summer months of January and February the perfect time to witness a variety of winged beauties.
The African bush delivers unique experiences throughout the year and the following guide on the best time to visit will show you why a safari in Southern or East Africa is a great opportunity no matter the time of year.
High Season: June • July • August • September • October
The best time to visit the East African safari circuits in Kenya and Tanzania is in the winter months of June through August.
Cooler, drier conditions are ideal for spotting wildlife on open plains and around watering holes.
For safari-goers looking to catch the return of wildebeest from Kenya into Tanzania, consider traveling at the end of September or early October.
Shoulder Season: November • December • January • February
The shoulder season in East Africa starts towards the end of the year, when short rains fall and the grass starts to grow.
With the turn of the year in January and February comes the birthing season.
This is also the time for prolific birdlife, and the fresh air and quiet surroundings are inviting as the rains cease for a while.
Low Season: March • April • May
As the rains fall towards the beginning of March, ceasing at the end of May, the bush takes a siesta as animals seek shelter and the earth soaks up much-needed moisture.
Safari lodges use this time to renovate if required and guides take time to rest or become reacquainted with the bush.
Visiting East Africa towards the end of the low season will offer great availability and a chance to see young animals exploring their habitat without crowds.
High Season: June • July • August • September • October
Winter is the best time to be on safari in Southern Africa, with visitors arriving from early June to the end of August.
The drier season results in brilliant game viewing as the grass is lower and animals gather at watering holes to quench their thirst. Temperatures are comfortably mild during the day, adding to the relaxed ambiance of being on safari.
Morning and afternoon game drives are complemented by crips evenings filled with bush chatter.
Shoulder Season: November • December • April • May
The shoulder season begins in November, when the spring rains have begun. At this time, the grass is still low enough and it’s not too hot, making it possible to get in that one last safari before the end of the year.
Christmas safari getaways offer a different perspective on the festive season and are a great opportunity to combine a city or coastal stay with a short safari.
The air and land start to dry up in April, with May seeing the dry season kick in. The grass height and temperatures begin to drop, making embarking on a safari at this time, before the busy season, a good idea.
Low Season: January • February • March
With the summer rains in full force for most of the safari circuits in Southern Africa, January and February are noted as the start of the low season.
By March the rains have mostly stopped and as fall starts the air and land starts to dry. However, with the bush still full of vegetation and animals only just peeking out of their hiding places, it is still considered low season.
Expert safari guides are on hand to share their knowledge of the bush, so those guests who wish to embark on a safari at this time of year will be in excellent hands. However, sightings may be more difficult.
Best Months: June • July • August • September • October
June, July, and October – the heart of the dry season – will give you the best game-viewing experiences in East Africa.
The weather is sunny and mainly rain-free, and it is the time for famous game-viewing opportunities in the Serengeti, Masai Mara, or Samburu National Reserve.
Spend time at waterholes to see the magic of the bush unfold. June and late September or early October are ideal months for bush walks and hot-air balloon experiences.
Learn more: Top 12 Animals in Kenya and Where to See Them
Best Months: May • June • July • August • September
The winter season starts at the end of May, continues through August, and extends into spring in September. These are the best times to see wildlife in Southern Africa.
The climate is dry and the vegetation low, making this an ideal time to venture out on game drives to uncover the African bush’s secrets. Wildlife is abundant and sightings are good, as animals gather at waterholes and on open plains.
Days are mild and evenings crisp, with big, open skies filled with stars and animal sounds.
Best Months: June • July • October • November
The best time to experience the Great Migration is in June and July or October and November, depending on whether you are visiting Kenya or Tanzania.
While animals are migrating year-round, the crossing of staggering hordes of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle takes place at two key times in the migration cycle, setting the scene for one of the most dramatic shows on Earth.
Witness this magical moment amidst a thunder of dust as the traveling herds cross from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, reaching a peak in July, with a return to the Serengeti usually in late October on our Great Migration Safaris.
Best Months: October • November • April • May • June
The best time to witness the zebra migration in Botswana is between late October and November, and again around May or June.
Watch as massive herds embark on a round-trip journey of over 360 miles between the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi grasslands, their magical journey creating dust clouds that add to the drama.
Witness one of the largest migrations in Africa as herds follow the water by traveling south in the rainy season around November, making their way from Chobe to the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans. They return up north as the dry season begins at the end of April.
Best Months: June • July • August
June, July, and August are the best months for gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, the summer months unveiling a drier climate.
The weather is usually cooler and the lack of rain makes trekking up mountains and through forests easier.
Book early or consider traveling just before or after the high season to secure permits for your desired dates or a second trek on our Gorilla Trekking Safaris.
Best Months: November • December • January • February • March
Discover the colorful African bush in East and Southern Africa as it comes alive with birdlife from the start of summer in November to early March.
As the short rains fall around November, the game reserves in Kenya and Tanzania see lush conditions, an invitation for a variety of bird species to emerge and build new homes. The summer rainfall ensures the South African soil is soaked and thriving vegetation sets the scene for prolific birdlife.
By the time February turns into March, the bush is alive with the sound of bird calls and a display of breathtaking beauty as species after species stand on display for bird lovers to admire and photograph.
Best Months: May • June • July • September • October
While traveling to Africa may be subject to fitting in with school vacations, the best time to visit East or Southern Africa with family is just outside the peak winter season, notably May or June and September or October.
The dry season is ideal for spotting animals from your safari vehicle and enjoy a cooler climate, making your days in the bush more comfortable. Children can enjoy a safari bumble around their lodge or a short walk with a guide.
Take advantage of combinations that offer city and safari escapes to make the most of your Family-Friendly African Safaris.
Learn more: 7 Tips to Plan A Perfect Family African Safari
Best Months: June • July • August • September
The dry season from June to September will give you the best chances for a secluded romantic safari.
Wildlife is easily found around watering holes and the diverse protected landscapes reveal stunning displays of animal antics among breathtaking scenery.
Enjoy crisp, fresh mornings and a crackling fire at night. The dry season also makes it easy to couple an African safari with nearby exotic islands. You can explore your romantic options with our African Safari Honeymoon Packages.
Learn more: 10 Most Romantic Places in Africa for Honeymoon
Best Months: May • June • July • September
The best time for seniors to enjoy an African safari is at the end of the shoulder season, as May turns into June, and again in September, when the peak season winds down.
Take advantage of smaller camps offering prime game viewing, with guides available to assist and educate at every turn, and miss crowds by avoiding busy August.
Late spring, summer, and early fall are the perfect times to combine a few parks and reserves with city stays or beach escapes on your African Safaris for Seniors.
Best Months: September • October • November • December • January • February
As spring unfolds, take advantage of a quieter time in which to explore the bush on foot or in a mokoro, a dugout canoe.
The rain begins to fall in November, with the bush soaking up the water until the end of February.
Bird lovers will be thrilled with the number of sightings in January and February, a time that also brings new life to the bush as it’s birthing season.
Activities: Bird Watching • Boat Safaris • Game Drives • City and Beach Breaks • Bush Dinners • Witness Birthing Season
Best Months: March • April • May • June • July • August
As the rain ceases and the temperatures start to cool in April and May, the bush has an air of freshness, offering a great time to step outside.
June, July, and August are peak safari months, offering walking and boating adventures, and the opportunity to enjoy fabulous game drives.
With clear skies and no chance of rain, consider a hot-air balloon ride or bush dinner, and pair your stay with a city stop to round off your ideal safari experience.
Activities: Boat Safaris • Game Drives • Walking Safaris • Hot Air Balloon Rides • Bush Dinners • City and Beach Breaks
Throughout the year, there are countless natural wonders on African Safaris and your choice of season will determine what wildlife experiences you will have.
Whether you are interested in birding or eager to view lions, wish to blend game viewing and wine tasting, or simply witness the Great Migration, knowing when and where to visit will make the difference.
With our African Safari Travel Guide, you will get inside access to the top travel tips and inspiration.