East Africa is one of the best places in the world to go on a traditional safari. Because the region has distinct rainy and dry seasons, a safari season can be enjoyed at any time of year as long as your location is adaptable. The optimal time for safari is determined by a variety of things, in addition to your calendar of when you can take time off to go on safari:
Destination: Is there a particular country or national park you’d like to visit? You’ll have a better chance of finding a terrific safari at any time of year if you can be flexible with your safari destination.
Wildlife: What kinds of animals do you hope to see? Certain species of wildlife are only found in specific nations or even national parks, so you’ll have to plan to see them.
Budget: During the high (dry) safari season, more animals, tourists, and prices are expected. Going on safari during the rainy season, on the other hand, offers cheaper safari hotels and tours, but lesser animal viewing. In this sense, the optimal period for a safari is largely determined by your budget.
If you want to go on a safari and aren’t picky about which African country you visit, the chart below shows the optimum months to travel:
January is a fantastic safari month in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Because the climate is generally dry, wildlife congregates in large numbers near drinking holes, making it simple to see. The vast migration of grazers – closely pursued by their large cat predators – can be seen in northern Tanzania, around the Salei and Ndutu plains.
In northern Tanzania, in February you’ll see the next generation of wildebeest being born, filling the plains with even more wildlife – and prey for the predators. Kenya and Uganda also have a lot of baby animals, and the weather isn’t too humid yet. If you’re not a fan of humidity should be avoided at this time of year.
The dry season in East Africa lasts until early March, with wildlife diversity and abundance unlike anywhere else in Africa at this time of year. Rain begins to fall in Uganda around the middle of March, making gorilla safaris a bit of a gamble from March onwards.
As the rainy season begins in Tanzania and Kenya, April is considered the shoulder safari season, which means that some good prices on safari lodges and tours can be offered. It also means that the number of tourists is usually lower. The drawback of the rainy season, aside from the possibility of getting wet while wildlife spotting, is that the abundance of water causes species to disperse and become harder to identify, certain dirt roads around national parks become impassable, and fast-growing foliage prevents views of the animals.
Those lodges in East Africa that are open at this time of year should offer a huge discount, and while you will see plenty of wildlife, it will not compare to other months.
Even though you’re in Africa, be prepared for the chilly in the mornings and at night.
July to September.
Between July and September, the greatest time to go on safari is probably when all of the safari places are open for business and the wildlife is at its peak. However, there are drawbacks: near-perfect weather equals more tourists and higher fees, so now is not the best time to choose a low-cost safari.
In East Africa the Masai Mara offers a grazing paradise for millions of wildebeest – at least those wildebeest who survive the river crossing with crocodiles waiting to pounce on the weak and slow.
If you’re only in Nairobi for a short while and a safari is out of the question, then a visit to the Giraffe Center (in the suburb of Karen, 10 km from the city Centre) is an experience that you ought to have. Here, there’s a platform for feeding that enables you to take a few ‘close-up’ snaps. There’s also the Nairobi national park, a protected area closer to the city where giraffes, impalas, zebras, and rhinos graze against a dramatic skyscraper backdrop in the distance. It’s a surreal experience, to say the least.
Kenya and Tanzania are the best October safari locations since they’re nearing the end of their dry season, which means there’s still plenty of wildlife to see, and the rainy season hasn’t arrived yet.
Migrating herds in East Africa return to the Serengeti in Northern Tanzania to complete the migratory cycle.
In East Africa’s major safari destinations – Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda – normal service has been restored. The dry season is starting again, bringing with it superb game-viewing opportunities. Keep in mind that if you’re planning a safari around the holidays, demand and prices can spike.
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