Best time to visit Africa

Africa typically experiences two seasons: wet and dry. The climate during these seasons can vary greatly according to a country’s topography, altitude and proximity to the coastline. This can have a huge impact on what travellers will be able to see and do during their vacation. Wildlife behaviour, park accessibility, temperature and appeal of beach hotspots are all dramatically affected by the rainfall or lack of it that accompanies Africa’s wet and dry seasons. Our destinations focus mainly on southern and east Africa so read on to learn about the pros and cons of visiting these regions in each season.

Giraffe in Masai Mara - East Africa safaris - On The Go Tours
The Masai Mara reserve in East Africa is considered a year-round destination

East Africa

In east Africa you'll find superb game viewing opportunities in Kenya and Tanzania with the world-famous Masai Mara reserve, the Serengeti and UNESCO-listed Ngorongoro Crater. Off the coast of Tanzania lies the Zanzibar archipelago, which makes the perfect beach addition to a safari adventure, while next door to Kenya lies Uganda and the critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Wet season in East Africa

Normally, east Africa experiences two rainy seasons. The first of these occurs between March and May and the second happens from mid-October to mid-December. Although wildlife is usually harder to spot during the rainy seasons, the landscape during this time takes on a vivid green colour thanks to the hydrated plant life, making it the most beautiful time to visit. Another benefit of travelling during this time is that the parks will be much less crowded and the experience will be significantly cheaper.

Dry season in East Africa

The periods between June and October and December to February are considered the best times to go on safari in this part of Africa if you are hoping to see as much wildlife as possible. The lack of water means that the remaining water holes become much more crowded as animals have fewer drinking options. The temperatures during the dry season are also much more bearable with the days warm and sunny and the evenings cooling off.

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Mokoro canoe on Okavango Delta - Southern Africa - On The Go Tours
A mokoro ride on the Okavango Delta is a highlight of southern Africa

Southern Africa

The region of Southern Africa consists of varied landscapes from the deserts of Namibia to the watery deltas of Botswana. In neighbouring Zimbabwe the rains have a dramatic impact on the water levels of Victoria Falls while in South Africa the climate is also affected by the coastal winds.

Wet season in Southern Africa

For the majority of southern Africa, November to March is the wettest and also the hottest time of the year. During this time, many of the more remote camps close down entirely making game viewing more challenging. However, when it comes to the beach, these hot months are the ideal time to visit, particularly in Cape Town and along the famous Garden Route. The wet season also sees the flooding of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. As water levels rise, the landscape takes on a lush green colour and becomes a bird-watcher’s paradise as well as a dream come true for photographers.

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Dry season in Southern Africa

The dry season in the southern part of Africa lasts from April to October and is considered the best time for game viewing. Cooler temperatures and less humidity make for more comfortable safari drives and lower the risk of malaria. Travellers doing camping safaris during this time should note, however, that nights can get quite cold so be sure to take warm clothing. At the very beginning of the dry season, Victoria Falls are still at their fullest but the rains have subsided, making it the ideal time to visit. The cool, dry season is also the best time to visit the national parks, especially Kruger, as the lack of vegetation improves visibility and the limited water supply causes animals to congregate in certain areas.

Further Reading

If you're after more detailed information on when best to visit the countries we cover in Africa, check out our comprehensive guides to the weather and festivals for Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.