In general an African safari is not the type of vacation you plan at the last minute. Because of this, we’re often asked “when is the best time to go?”. It’s a loaded question since it really depends on what you would like to see and do. We can probably all agree that the weather is an important determining factor.
Many of Africa’s most popular destinations are close enough to the equator that cold weather is not an issue. It’s the rain that we keep track of in East and Southern Africa. In both of these regions, the dry season generally falls from June – October. In East Africa, the long rains are in April and May and the short rains in November. In Southern Africa, the rainy season is from mid November through mid April. But like climate worldwide, the weather can also be somewhat unpredictable. Keep in mind that the ‘green’ season in southern Africa is also their summer months (seasons are opposite of ours in North America) so the weather is warm making for an ideal time to visit Cape Town and coastal resorts. The green season can be particularly rewarding both in terms of wildlife viewing; it’s when the babies are born and of course travelers have the benefit of a more affordable safari
It does get cold in Southern Africa during the winter months from June – August, especially around the Kruger National Park in South Africa and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. But it is dry and the days are never too chilly with bright blue skies and bright sunshine. Winters in Morocco (December – February) can also be a bit chilly and rainy, but it is the best time to visit the Sahara desert, which gets too hot in the summer months. Egypt is best overall in the winter months, the coast is still sunny and you won’t melt while checking out ancient Egypt’s tombs and temples out in the desert.
Africa has a steamy reputation and it is well deserved, especially during the Christmas months in East and Southern Africa. The closer you get to the lower coastal areas, the warmer and more humid it gets. Morocco and Egypt can get very hot during their summer months (July – September) and it is almost impossible to enjoy the desert during those times. But the heat can be beat by running for the hills. There are several safari destinations at higher elevations that are still comfortable during the peak of summer. And when the sun goes down, it always cools down.
Besides the weather, a good reason to plan your trip is to enjoy one of the many major festivals that take place throughout the continent. We keep our eye on festivals and events, posting a blog on what’s happening in Africa for each month. Other sources include:
There is no bad time to visit Africa, the worst you can do is to not visit Africa. Call us, we can help you figure out what to do and when to do it.