best time to visit Botswana

Updated: 07th June 2019

Okavango Delta and dugout canoe - Botswana best time to visit - On The Go Tours
Visit the Okavango Delta between May and September for more wildlife

Seasons and Weather

Botswana’s climate is semi-arid, which means it is mostly dry throughout the year although the country does also experience a short wet spell. Broadly speaking, the weather can be distinguished as two particular seasons.

Wet Season

During the summer months of November to April, Botswana experiences its ‘green season’ and the weather can be very hot. Throughout most of these months, the rains are mostly short afternoon showers, with the only continuous rainfall occurring during January and February. Although wildlife is harder to spot amongst the verdant vegetation, the scenery is spectacular at this time.

The wet season also sees many of the herbivore species, including impala and wildebeest, give birth to their young and, alongside these cute newborns, there’s an abundance of migratory bird species to spot. December to April is considered the low season, with rates for services and visitor numbers tending to be lower. Be aware that some lodges and camps also close down during the wettest months.

Dry Season

The winter months of May to October bring a cool change, yet it is still reasonably warm with mostly pleasant average temperatures. There are fewer mosquitoes, however the early mornings and evenings may be cold and frosty. Therefore it’s advisable to pack warm clothing for morning game drives, particularly during June, July and August. Rainfall is rare during this period and so winter in Botswana coincides with the dry season.

This is considered the best time to visit as less vegetation makes it easier to spot wildlife, with large groups of animals congregating around waterholes and rivers. July to October is the peak season in Botswana for these reasons. However, despite most tourists visiting at this time, the parks still feel relatively uncrowded.

Thinking of visiting Botswana? Download a copy of our Africa brochure for inspiration.

Elephant crossing Chobe River - Botswana - On The Go Tours
Elephant crossing the Chobe River in the popular Chobe National Park

Best Time to Visit Botswana's Major Parks

Botswana’s most popular parks are Moremi, Okavango, Chobe and the Central Kalahari. Although they offer year-round wildlife viewing, their safari experiences are influenced by Botswana’s two seasons.

Okavango Delta

Despite being famous for its waterways, the wet season is ironically not the best time to visit the Okavango Delta. During the wettest months from January to March, some areas become inaccessible and those travelling during this time need to choose their locations carefully. Confusingly, Botswana’s dry season is when the water levels in the Okavango Delta are at their highest. This is due to the time it takes for the rain waters to reach and flood the delta. The best time to visit is from July to October, when you can not only expect great wildlife viewing, but also explore the park in a traditional dugout canoe known as a mokoro.

Chobe National Park

Wildlife migrates through Chobe National Park with the seasons. Several animals, specifically the Burchell’s zebra, tend to migrate to the Savute Marsh during the wettest months. Chobe’s riverfront area is best visited during the dry season, however as this is widely known it can get quite crowded at this time. August to October is considered the best time to visit Chobe, however the temperatures can get extremely hot.

Moremi Game Reserve

Moremi follows the pattern of most of Botswana’s parks, with the best time for wildlife viewing being during the dry season, specifically from July to October. The wetter months from January to March then see some lodges close and some areas become inaccessible.

Central Kalahari

Wildlife migrates through the Kalahari with the seasons, with the best time for viewing being from December to March. During these wetter months, animals tend to gather around the pans in the Deception Valley area. However, the rains can cause the roads to become very muddy and even off limits in some places. Therefore you may wish to visit in April and May, as the roads tend to be in better condition and there is still plenty of wildlife about.

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Climate of Maun


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C18171612766914151919
Temp Max °C323230292624242733353333
Rainfall (mm)10779711853000235686

Climate of Ghanzi


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C262322211613121521242627
Temp Max °C353231292727262833333334
Rainfall (mm)1952466000017371059
San dancers in Botswana - photo credit Elvert Barnes via Flickr
San musicians in Botswana - photo credit Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Festivals and Events

A handful of festivals take place in Botswana each year bringing together the best of local and international talent. Here's a few of the best.

Maitisong Festival

This annual festival in Gaborone features theatre, dance, poetry and music in Maitisong, Botswana’s biggest theatre, with gospel, kwaito, kwasa-kwasa and Afro-pop performances held in under-privileged areas across the city. It takes place in April each year.

Kuru Dance Festival

On the only Bushman-owned game farm in Botswana in the dry lands of the Kalahari dancers perform traditional tribal dances and music across three colourful days.

Botswana National Day

Celebrations consisting of parades and street parties mark Botswana's independence on the 30th September each year. It's a time to look back on all that the country has achieved and look to the future with hopes of further advancement.

Upcoming events

Here's an overview of some of the festivals and events taking place in Botswana this year:

2019:

July 16th - President's Day (public holiday)
September 30th - Botswana National Day (countrywide)

2020:

April TBC - Maitisong Festival (Gaborone)

This is by no means an exhaustive list as local events and festivals take place in villages across Botswana throughout the year. Event and festival details can change so please check that the event is happening before making your travel arrangements.

See Also

For further help planning your trip to Botswana, check out our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - Botswana's top national parks not to be missed
Tourist Visas - what you need to know before travelling to Botswana
Top Travel Tips - Botswana's currency, time and info on health
About Overland Safaris - what to expect on a camping expedition in Africa
About Lodge Safaris - all you need to know about lodge accommodated safaris
Safari Wildlife Guide - where to find Africa's most iconic wildlife
Spotting Africa's Big 5 - our guide to the Big 5 and the best places to find them