Best Time of Year for a Family Safari?

RosanneLuxury Safari

Best time of year for a family safari: Family in safari vehicle Zambia

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?’

When are the best deals for a safari vacation?’

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 babies

Many 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 territorial

Predators 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 crowds

Not 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 tag

There 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 season

Contrary 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 school

Usually 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!

Why Christmas is the best time of year for a family safari?

1. Long, blissfully warm and sunny days

December is hot-hot-hot throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a great time to head to Africa with kids because the swimming pool will keep them occupied all afternoon. The rest of the year the pools are swimmable but the water will be a little nippy for many.

2. Kenya pauses its rainy season

Whilst most safari countries will be experiencing their rainy season around Christmas time, Kenya often has a dry period in December as the rains head south. Kenya has some beautiful Indian Ocean beaches so head to Kenya for a sunny bush and beach break over Christmas and new year.

3. South Africa’s Cape Town hits summer

Cape Town and the Cape area follows a Mediterranean climate, but in reverse (ie hot, dry summers in December and cold wet winters in July). This is the time to head to South Africa‘s Cape Town for a game-viewing, wine-tasting, city-living self-drive family adventure.

3. Migrating animals

In the warm wet season lost of wildlife frolic in joy, returning home from their dry season water-pilgrimage. There are lots of babies around and you’ve even got a chance of seeing babies being born if you’re extra lucky. The clear skies offer great lighting for those photo opportunities too.

Click to find out more about the the best time for a safari in Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and the Indian Ocean Beaches!

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About the Author
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Rose co-founded the Good Safari Guide and the Safari Awards in 2007, key independent media organisations which have been informing the trade reliably since their inception. Today, Rose lives in London with her son, Barnaby, from where she heads up the Abambo team. Rose’s passion is to share knowledge and hatch plans with travel-savvy people who love nature. Contact Rose at