Sights and Experiences: The Best time of Year to Visit these Favourite African Countries

October 9, 2018
Leandra Slabbert
I don't think God intended for any of us to just be ordinary

When planning your holiday to Africa, find out when is the best time of year to visit in relation to what you are wanting to see and do during your time in Africa. Your interests could include: bird watching, bird/mammal migration, the Victoria Falls, visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda, wildlife safaris, seeing the beautiful wild flowers in bloom or just relaxing in the sun – each of which are best at specific times of the year.

Here are a few sights and experiences in various corners of the continent that you may be interested in and the best times of year to visit.

BOTSWANA

-Wildlife safaris

-Water based safari excursions

The climate of Botswana has much the same weather pattern throughout the year. November, December, January and February are the hottest months, with a fair amount of summer rainfall too. During these months the heat of the Kalahari is pretty intense, so the rainfall is often welcomed with open arms! Due to the rainfall the plains are anything but dry, in fact, they’re beautifully lush and green, which also makes for spectacular sightings as the wildlife aren’t able to camouflage themselves amongst the greenery. During this time one is also able to witness the migration of various bird species, as well as catch sight of the adorable newborn animals. In January the cats, specifically the lions give birth to their young, while February is the best time to see various newborn mammals.

Towards the end of April the weather is starting to change as May is the beginning of their winter; their dry season, with moderate to mild temperatures and clear skies. From August through to October safaris are the most popular as the wildlife seem to stay near to the watering holes instead of spreading across the plains. This means an even greater chance of locating them – and getting pictures of the wildlife drinking and bathing in the watering holes. The vegetation is also not as lush, and the grass is short, giving way to some really great sights (and photographs) of various wildlife species.

We’d highly recommend you visit the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve. These reserves are home to a plethora of wildlife and bird species, and offer fantastic excursions such as canoeing, mokoro trips and boating safaris, as well as the traditional game drives.

ZIMBABWE

-The Victoria Falls

-Wildlife Safaris

Zimbabwe is well known for the Victoria Falls (you can also enter from the Zambian side). Although the Zimbabwean side of the falls offers spectacular sights year-round, the best time to see the falls at its most powerful is during the months of February to July. These months are known to be the high water season – although sometimes the pressure of the water is so intense that a cloud of mist develops, obstructing one’s full view of the falls. However, it is certainly incredible to witness the power of the water during this season, but most believe June to September to be the best time to visit as it’s not as crowded, and still offers great viewing opportunities.

You may also want to visit Hwange National Park – the largest national park, which is also home to hundreds of wildlife species, and over 400 bird species. The best times to visit would be during the months of August to October as the wildlife are easier to spot and can often be found near to one of the few watering holes. September and October are the best months to see elephants in abundance.

The wet season comes with its own special surprises, as during the months of November to March, you’re likely to catch sight of animals giving birth to their newborns, as well as the breeding plumage of the migratory birds.

ZAMBIA

-The Victoria Falls

-White water rafting

-Wildlife safaris

-The whirlpool/boiling pot hike

There is a plethora of extraordinary things to see and do in Zambia. From the Victoria Falls and various wildlife national parks, to white water rafting and the Zambezis’ famous whirlpool known as the boiling pot.

Having a sub-tropical climate, Zambia’s weather is described as a wet and dry climate and not as a specific season. The best times to visit the falls is, as mentioned, June to September to avoid the crowds and get great views of the falls. And just like Zimbabwe and Botswana, the best time for wildlife sightings are during August to October, although sightings are almost guaranteed year-round. Adrenaline activities such as white-water rafting are best during the low season, which are during the months of July and mid-February. It’s during these months that one can also take the ‘boiling pot’ hike. The boiling pot is a famous whirlpool created from the strong currents of the Zambezi river. It’s a spectacular sight that shouldn’t be missed!

TANZANIA

-Great mammal migration

-Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania is home to one of the greatest attractions in all of Africa, and is famously known as the Great Mammal Migration. Millions of wildebeest make their way across the plains of the Serengeti during certain times of the year. They usually move between the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. The best times of the year to witness this mind blowing spectacle is during the months of May and June and August and September.

Another incredible attraction is that of Mount Kilimanjaro. Adrenaline seekers (who are fit enough to take on this beast) can hike ‘Kili’ in just four of five days. The best times to hike Mount Kilimanjaro is during the months of July to October, or January to March as this is the dry season.

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