We know plenty of keen visitors to Africa don’t have the luxury of choosing the “ideal” dates to travel. Let’s be honest, life is busy! This might seem like a limiting factor when planning a safari trip, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the beauties of Africa is its diversity, which means there’s an abundance of options to satisfy almost everyone, at any time of year. However this don’t make the task of choosing where to go in Africa any easier! So over four seasonal blog posts, we’ll be looking at your best safari options for the coming year.
Here are our recommendations for where to go in Africa during May, June and July …
This blog article is courtesy of Cedarberg Africa, a travel and safari company specializing in African tailor-made itineraries. We have special rates with all the hotels and game lodges, so you don’t pay any more.
May marks the start of the winter season in Southern Africa. The cooler temperatures coincide with drier weather and shorter days. Subsequently this means that game-viewing becomes easier as the bushes die back a little and animals become more visible. And so the recommended safari season begins…
Although this is also the start of winter weather in the Cape, this is a crossover sort of month as its often still autumnal. So that means fewer crowds, more availability and the joy of winter season pricing in Cape Town. (And remember that winter in the Cape is not like winter back home!)
This is the beginning of the dry winter season in the Okavango Delta. Enjoy sunny days (it’s not too hot yet) and cool evenings. As peak season in the Delta starts in late June/early July, you’ll also benefit from shoulder season rates in May and usually early June.
We recommend combining your Botswana safari with a few days at Victoria Falls. The water levels have subsided slightly at this time of year, enabling you to see beyond the spray, (especially towards the end of the month.)
Consider a safari in Zambia as well. The animals are starting to congregate around the waterholes as the dry season has begun. And peak safari prices haven’t kicked in.
This is considered a slower season in South Africa, and as such provides a great opportunity to capitalise on low season long stay specials. Try game lodges in Madikwe and the Eastern Cape game reserves. If you’re an adrenalin junkie, the shark cage diving high season begins in and around Gansbaai.
May is a great time to visit Namibia as it’s before the busy peak season. The rains have ceased and the night time temperatures are not as cold as they’ll become in June and July.
If gorilla trekking is high up on your list of things to do, consider visiting Uganda in May. For the last few years, the Uganda Wildlife Authority has offered drastically reduced gorilla trekking permit fees in April, May and November. You save about 30%. As the fees are pretty steep, this is worth bearing in mind.
This mid-year month kicks off the safari high season in some of Southern Africa. Think camp-fires, Amarula in your hot chocolate and mild days of game viewing. The ‘show’ is about to start in East Africa too… so lots of choice!
There is very little rain between now and October in Southern Africa. Animals therefore gather around permanent rivers and wetlands as surface water begins to dry up, making them easier to find. The days are shorter so there’s no need to get up too early, and the rainy-season bugs and mosquitoes have disappeared.
We recommend the Greater Kruger Park. View game under clear skies, but be prepared for chilly mornings and frosty nights. (Pack gloves and a woolly hat for those early morning game drives!)
Although June is heading into peak safari season in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia , you should still benefit from shoulder season prices at many lodges.
June is an exciting time in East Africa. The migrating wildebeest herds arrive in the north-west of the Serengeti in Tanzania. Here you will witness river crossings on the Mara River to the North or the Grumeti River on the Western Corridor. It is worth mentioning that although this is considered one of the greatest ‘highlights’ of the migration, it is an emotional experience for some, and the banks of the Serengeti are crowded with eager tourists.
Those looking for an unforgettable diving experience should consider Zanzibar at this time of year. Mauritius is also great for surfing from now through until August, and coastal temperatures in Madagascar remain balmy throughout the year.
Uganda & Rwanda
This is considered the best time of the year to go gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda as it is the driest month. This means less rain and dampness, more sunlight for spotting gorillas and for photographing them. Most importantly, it also means easier trekking conditions!
July is an all-round delightful time to be travelling in Africa. In Southern Africa the days are mild and sunny, whilst nights are cool and clear. Game reserves are dry and the game have become even more concentrated. And of course, the drama of the annual migration continues to unfold in East Africa.
This is an important month for the migration as the wildebeest congregate in the western and northern reaches of the Serengeti. They are joined by dazzling zebras as they continue their trek back to the Masai Mara, pausing at the rivers that block the way.
The Okavango Delta is in full flood, so you need to plan early to get availability as it is peak season. The air is crisp but the conditions are perfect for photography, canoeing, fishing, and an excellent diversity of wildlife viewing.
It is also peak, peak season in Namibia with perhaps even worse constraints on availability. Mornings and evenings can be very cold, so be prepared! Try to plan your trip for earlier in July as it gets ‘booked out’ very early from mid July onwards. (Namibia is a large, but sparsely populated country so there is not an extensive range of accommodation to choose from, so the country puts out a ‘fully booked’ sign for much of late July to September!)
Between May and July each year, huge shoals of sardines move into the coastal waters of southern KwaZulu Natal in what is known to locals as The Sardine Run. It’s the marine equivalent of the annual migration of the wildebeest in the Masai Mara.
Indeed KwaZulu Natal is the perfect destination for an affordable family holiday, with a great combination of bush, berg and beach at this time of year.
For other beach options to combine with your East or Southern Africa safari, consider the Seychelles and Mauritius in this dry month.
At this time of year in Rwanda and Uganda, you’ll experience the coolest nights, the mildest days and the least rain – perfect conditions for gorilla trekking!
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Our Where to go in Africa series is by Cedarberg Africa
Cedarberg Africa is a travel and safari company specialising in African tailor-made itineraries. We have special rates with all the hotels and game lodges. Booking through us will cost no more than booking direct, and sometimes less. So our expertise and knowledge comes at no extra cost to you!