When is the best time for a safari in Africa?
Our top tips: when to take the family to Africa
This is the big question: what time of year is best to go on safari. It’s one that everyone struggles with: it’s such a big trip and you want to get it right.
Guests ask us:
‘Is there a particularly good time of year to see wildlife?’
‘What’s the difference if I choose to go on safari in July or December?’
‘Does it get cold in Africa? Will it be warm enough to use the swimming pool?’
Have a look at our tips below to abate your ‘when to go on safari’ worries.
1. Go on safari in the dry season for the best wildlife viewing
During the dry winter months it is easier to see wildlife; go on safari in July, August, September and October to give yourself the best chance of seeing your favourite animals.
Why is the dry season the best time of year for a family safari?
1. Sparse Bush!
During the dry season the bush is sparse and there are fewer hiding places. Even if your favourite animal is shy, you can still spot it through a few dry branches, and can even track it with ease if you’re in an area which allows off-road safaris.
2. Busy waterholes
During the dry season it’s harder to find water; the wildlife is forced out of the bush to the waterholes. The guides, just like the wildlife, know where the waterholes are and you can sit back and enjoy the action as the wildlife comes to you.
3. No babiesMany species wait until there is abundant water and food to have babies, giving their young the best chance of survival; thus many species do not have babies in the dry season. It can be problematic getting close to animals which are protecting their young. During the dry season many animals are less shy and defensive without young to protect.
4. Predators are territorialPredators such as the big cats do not migrate but stay to protect their territory. Thus in the dry season you can get some excellent predator action such as a cheetah on the hunt, or a pride of lion with a kill, even though some species may have migrated away in search of water.
2. Go on safari in the Easter Holidays / Spring Break for the best deals and to beat the crowds
Whilst July, August and Christmas / New Year are peak season and popular for good reason, March and April are often overlooked. This can definitely work to your advantage.
Why is March / April the best time of year for a family safari?
1. Lose the crowdsNot many people think of going on safari in the rainy season as their first choice, which is a shame for those people. It’s great for us, though, as we know that the rainy season can deliver excellent game viewing without the crowds. Some areas shut down completely which shows you how few safari-savvy visitors there’ll be out there in March / April!
2. Lose the premium price tagThere is of course a premium slapped on safaris in the peak months of July/August and Christmas. This applies not only to the accommodation but also to international flights which can double at this time of year compared to the deals you can get in low season. Book early (a year in advance) for some great prices even though it’s holiday time.
3. The sun shines in the rainy seasonContrary to popular belief, the rainy season doesn’t mean Africa suddenly turns into Scotland. The rains tend to hit in bursts, usually in the morning, and then it’s a beautiful sunny day once more. You’ll not often find the low clouds that drizzle on for hours. It’s warmer than the July / August time of year too, which is great for using swimming pools which are typically unheated.
4. No need to skip schoolUsually you’d have to avoid school holidays to get a great deal, but if you head out in spring break or Easter holidays you’ve got good prices within the holiday. You have enough time to get there and back before school starts too, thus avoiding that embarrassing chat with the head teacher on why your child is so special that the attendance rules do not apply to them.
3. Go on safari at Christmas for some winter sun
Fed up of the Christmas chills? Go on safari over Christmas and new year for bush and beach all wrapped up in one easy ten day trip. Take a look at our Christmas Private Safari Houses post for some ideas as to where to stay!