When deciding on the best time to travel to Africa, do consider your destination country’s climate and tourism seasons. It’s equally important to determine what activities you want to do, the best season to do them and the types of experience you want.

For instance, game viewing is a major attraction on the continent. It’s best enjoyed during the dryer seasons when wildlife is easier to access. However, for many of us, shoulder seasons when short rains are happening, or rains are just starting, are also wonderful times that create whole new opportunities. During quiet times, you may find yourself in a camp with few others and having wildlife encounters to yourself, which very few people experience and many people enjoy.

In this post, we’ll suggest some considerations about the ‘best time to travel’ to our various target destinations.  

Learning About Seasonality

Climate Varies Across the African Continent

The most critical variable to determining the best time to travel to Africa is the expected climate & weather for your destination country. Africa’s scale, and presence in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and its envelope around the equator, results in contrasting weather across the continent, and HUGE variances within very small distances; a great example is the great migration, following the rains, and the new grass the wildebeest and Zebra are seeking.

Dry Season is Ideal for Viewing Animals but it’s Not Always Peak Tourist Season

The peak tourism season most often falls during the Northern hemisphere’s summer holidays, late June through end of August.  But this is due to people’s ability to travel at this time, not necessarily the best time to visit some destinations!

Wildlife safaris are the number one drawcard for people who visit Africa. It’s easier to spot wildlife and big game during the dry season. When the grass and natural vegetation are sparse. Due to the scarcity of water in the dryer seasons, you’ll find large groups of animals congregating around available waterholes, rivers, and lakes. This will also give you a better chance of witnessing many different species in the one area you’re visiting. 

Visit Southern Africa All Year Round to See Game

Although this is true, June, in Southern Africa is the coldest month and, in many areas, you can get frosts. Game drives in the morning can be freezing cold. By the end of August, things are warming up again and October is the hottest month of the year!  

With warmer weather and moving into November, when first rains can start in some areas, a lot of the wildlife that was hibernating during June and July, start to become very active with the heat, and the moisture in the air.  Bird migrants arrive from the North, insects, cold blooded reptiles, and all the sounds that come with warmer months fill the air.  

Rainy Seasons Offer Dramatic Skies

Many guests book during the rainy seasons, which does not mean it’s very wet, but more an exciting later afternoon thunder storm, with that comes dramatic skies, amazing photography opportunities, and generally some excitement!  Water brings life, and EVERYTHING comes alive!

Africa’s parks have dirt roads, and then all-season roads, which require a lot more maintenance, so they can be used in the wetter months.  The most important fact to understand, is Africa’s soils vary a lot, some dirt roads can be driven all year, even when wet, you can generally be fine, but some soil types, make it impossible to move as soon as the rain comes.  There is a lot to consider. 

Wet Season Overview

  • Rainfall takes place at different times across the continent and is often unpredictable.
  • In Southern Africa, you can generally expect most of the rain to fall between December and mid-March. 
  • Some African regions experience torrential downpours from December to March. Others have very little rain. For example Namibia is primarily a desert, and some downpours do happen, but overall, their wet season, is still very dry compared to what many people from North America and Europe understand as wet. The wet season is a great time to see many reptiles in southern Africa, along with turtles, tortoises, frogs, toads, and so many amazing insects and beetles, especially the dung beetles.
  • During June and July, the colder months of the year, in Southern Africa, all these species have hibernated.
  • Do consider how a little bit of rain, and warmer weather, can make your safari far more interesting.

Key Climate Highlights to Remember

  • Southern Africa gets one rain season annually, generally around November – March, their summer time
  • East Africa gets two rains, long rains in late April and May, then short rains in November.
  • June is the coldest month in Southern Africa
  • October is the hottest month in Southern Africa. It cools a little with the rains from November to March bringing some very comfortable temperatures. Remember all the migrant bird species from the North are there then.

Wildlife Viewing Safaris

It’s Much More Than the Big Five!

Most people visit Africa because of the unique safaris that just can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. The wildlife in Africa is the primary attraction for tourists. There are an endless number of national parks and game reserves to visit.

In most Southern and Eastern African countries, travellers can observe the big five in their natural habitat. Elephants, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and lions can all be seen in almost every country. But there are so many more magnificent species to view, such as Cheetah, Hyena, Gerenuk, and a huge diversity of Antelopes and Gazelle, all adapted to living in very different environments. 

If night game drives are possible, we always try and include one destination that allows them in our safaris, you get the chance to see species like Genets, Civet Cats, Mongoose of different species, sometimes Porcupines, and Honey Badgers.

Bird Watching Tours

*Best Planned from December to March if you wish to include migrants*

Although bird watching can be enjoyed at any time of the year, the ‘green season’ provides the most ideal conditions for bird diversity. Migratory birds return to countries like Botswana. This is December through March when many of the migrants will stay for a period of 3-4 months before heading back north. (A quick tip: Careful planning around rain!)

Birding in Uganda

Birders will find thrilling bird-watching experiences in both southern and eastern Africa. While there are hundreds of birds to see across the continent, it’s interesting to note that Uganda is home to largest number of species, 1090 confirmed species as of August 2021 according to Wikipedia.

Birding in Rwanda

In Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest, you can spot about 280 recorded bird species. The entire country has a population of over 700 bird species, with 29 Albertine Rift Endemics. The most notable species is the Red-collared babbler.

Birding in Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Game Park in Zimbabwe is another brilliant spot for bird-watching. There are over 450 bird species to view. Birders come to Mana Pools to seek out species such as the African skimmer, long-toed lapwing, Pel’s fishing-owl, Rufous-bellied heron, and the carmine bee-eater.

You could also encounter flocks of bright pink Flamingoes at Namibia’s Walvis Bay lagoon and Kenya’s Lake Nakuru, Lake Elmentaita and Lake Baringo, and other Lakes in Tanzania.  A myriad of exotic birds can be found in various parts of Madagascar, for those looking for a whole new adventure.

Adventure Activities

Mountain Treks & Walks

Those who travel to Africa to experience exhilarating mountaineering excursions will not be disappointed.

There is so much to see when you travel to Africa. And exploring the land on foot is a great way to immerse yourself in the natural environment. Because of its picturesque landscapes, Africa is awash with hiking and walking opportunities for all to enjoy.

For those able to walk comfortably, we encourage all our guests to consider a walking safari in a wildlife area, where a professionally trained guide takes you on a guided walk, where the goal is to share with you safe encounters with big game on foot, while also taking time to appreciate the tracks and spoor of game, learning how to track game safely, and learning about the ‘signs in the bush’ that have plenty of stories to tell.

If you’re unsure about how to plan your African walking safari, Jackson’s African Safaris can help you.

Tanzania is home to Africa’s highest mountain peak, the roof of Africa; Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s the most popular and has many routes to choose from. There are alternatives to Mount Kilimanjaro for those looking for mountain, and mountain forest experiences, without all the complexity of high altitude to deal with.

Mount Kenya in Kenya is one to visit, with breath-taking surrounding views and accessible hiking trails to meet everyone’s interest and capabilities from simple walks in the lower forests, to scaling their peaks using the latest climbing gear at over 17,000 feet.

In South Africa’s cosmopolitan coastal city, Cape Town, Table Mountain can’t be missed. It offers experiences for both first timers and experienced climbers. From 1086 meters above the city, the views are simply magnificent.

Mount Mulanje, the ‘island in the sky’ in southern Malawi, is another notable mountain hiking destination and one we love.

The weather naturally is very important to consider while undertaking any hiking expedition.

Walking & Hiking Safaris

Gorilla & Chimpanzee Trekking

Best in the Drier Seasons – To visit Africa for gorilla encounters, head to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Gorilla trekking is an all-year-round activity.  However, we do try and pick the drier times of the year, trekking for Gorillas in the rain, is not ideal.

Jackson’s African Safaris can assist you in finding the perfect fit for your gorilla trekking adventure.

Ocean, River, and Lake Activities

Many who travel to Africa come to experience its majestic marine life and freshwater species. Some prefer to explore the land and land animals from the water. And Africa certainly offers plenty of opportunities to indulge each visitor’s fantasy.

While most people visit Africa to see the big five, many travel to the continent to see the whales. Madagascar, Mafia Island, Mozambique, and South Africa are popular whale watching destinations.

Whether your seeking diving experiences with Whale sharks, or a simple family whale watching experience off South Africa’s beautiful coast, we will be sure to bring you ‘up close’ with the whales, as well as dolphins, seals, and other marine life, while being sure to give them their space and support projects that benefit them. 

Many famous rivers exist in Africa, and all have so much to offer in different ways.  The White and Blue Nile, the mighty Zambezi, The Luangwa, The Rufiji, and so many more, all these rivers have huge diverse experiences; from canoeing adventures to Whitewater rafting, walking safaris along their banks, there are simply so many great camps to stay in along these rivers that give ideal wildlife experiences & encounters, we will work with you to find just what your looking for.

Beach Leisure

*Be Mindful of Peak Rainy Seasons*

Enjoy the surf and sand when you visit Africa by exploring the continent’s world-renown beaches. Some of the most beautiful beaches can be found in Tanzania, Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco and Kenya. Their coasts are on the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean and feature pristine, white-sand coastlines.

For the ideal beach vacation, be mindful of when the peak rainy seasons are expected and when their peak heat periods are. Cape Town has opposite rain from the rest of Southern Africa. They get winter rain, while the rest of Southern Africa gets summer rain! 

Talk to a Travel Expert About the Best Time for Safaris

Consider Three Primary Factors

To determine when it’s the best time to travel to Africa, you will likely have three primary factors to consider.

  1. Think about what you want to do and see on your African safari
  2. Carefully consider your preferred budget and your maximum budget.
  3. Share your vision with a travel expert. When you think about this trip of a lifetime, what do you envision? What do you picture? At Jackson’s African Safaris, we do everything we can to tailor our trips to meet personal expectations and your budget.


Please reach out to us at Jackson’s African Safaris to plan your African adventure. We would be delighted to help you plan a trip of a lifetime!