Africa is a top tourist destination for its wildlife, beaches, culture, and archaeological sites. Thankfully, the weather on this beautiful continent is fairly consistent throughout the year. The sun shines virtually every day and only the northern and southern tips of the continent experience winter. However, that being said there are a few factors to consider when planning your safari for an optimum experience. So what exactly is the best time to visit Africa?
Honestly, wildlife is fairly easy to spot throughout the year. However, the experience is much more enthralling during the dry season. With the reduced vegetative cover, it is easy to spot Big Cats such as lions and cheetahs on the vast savannah plains. Usually camouflaged by the tall grass, the dry season sort of exposes their cover making for easier game viewing. Furthermore, the dry season causes a lot of rivers and water points to dry up. This forces wildlife to congregate, so to speak, on the few remaining water points. This makes it quite easy to track all sorts of wild animals for the ultimate game viewing experience.
In East Africa, the long rains come between March and June and the short rains between October and December. Any time not encompassed by these months is optimum for game viewing. In southern Africa, however, game viewing is ideal during the dry winter months between May and October.
2. Migration Patterns
Another factor to consider may be the migration patterns of specific animals. For example, the Great Wildebeest Migration is at its peak between August and October in the Masai Mara in Kenya. Luckily, this is the same time the Humpback Whale Migration also reaches the Kenyan coast. These two simultaneous migrations are now dubbed The Twin Migration and are a real treat for anyone touring the country around this time. However, the wildebeest migration is also heavily dependent on rainfall and so depending on how early or late the rains fall the migration patterns may be slightly altered. This is why it is always best to use a local travel agent to plan your safari. It could be the difference between an unforgettable safari and a great waste of time and money.
Money is always a factor. There may be misconceived notions out there about Africa’s poverty but the continent boasts some of the world’s most luxurious lodges, camps, and hotels. However, prices greatly vary depending on what time of year you plan your safari. Simple economics tells us that price rises with an increase in demand. Therefore, during the high season when hotels and lodges experience a spike in demand as a consequences prices also spike.
The high season is usually between January and March and November and December. These months are also during the dry season and ideal for game viewing. No wonder many people plan their safaris around these months. The low season, on the other hand, is usually during the months of April and June during the rainy season. Prices can be lower by up to 40% during the low season compared to the high season. Also, an intermediary peak season exists during the months of July to October and from around 22nd December to mid-January.
4. Political Events
Africa is a beautiful continent but it is not without its flaws. Elections in many African countries are usually very heated and sometimes result in clashes and violent protests and encounters. This is doubtless a security concern for many tourists. Worth noting, however, is that many African states are now in a relative state of stability and such violent shows are not commonplace. All the same, if your safari coincides with the elections period of a country it is best to let the period pass just as a precautionary measure.
At the end of the day, Africa is open for business throughout the year. Every day is the best time to visit Africa. No matter your timing there is always wildlife to see and loads of fun activities to do. For example, here are 9 bucket list items to complete in Africa.
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