© Sunrise in the Rift Valley at Sweetwaters Tented Camp
Although much has been written about the best time of year to travel in Africa, most countries are a year-round destination - depending upon your interests. For many travellers to this vast and diverse continent, wildlife is the major attraction.
Seasonal trends might affect your trip. Weather is variable, so it is quite possible to go for days without rain during the rainy season, or have thundershowers in the middle of the dry season!
The seasons play a huge role in the African wilderness, in fact it can be said that the seasons control the flow of life in Africa. Most wilderness areas in Africa rely on water for their survival and the coming of the rains signals a time of new growth - and the continuation of the cycle of life.
The seasons also play a great role in the safari travel industry as many potential safari-goers plan their African safaris around 'the best time to go' to a particular area. In the past it was thought that the rainy season was a time to stay away but recent knowledge indicates that in some areas the rainy season is the best time to travel.
The idea that the rainy season is not a good time to travel probably stems from the trophy hunting business where hunting operations are generally stopped at the onset of the rains due to it been a time when many of the species give birth.
The Rainy Seasons of Africa
Although the weather cannot be predicted with exactitude there is a general trend when it comes to the rainy seasons of the various safari travel destinations in Africa.East Africa
- due to the location of many of east Africa's top safari destinations - saddling the equator - there are two rainy seasons. The long rains are from March through to early May and the short rains fall around November. This affects Kenya, Uganda and the northern parks of Tanzania.
The southern reserves of Tanzania such as Selous and Ruaha are generally caught between Southern African and East African climates. Here the rainy season stretches from November through to May with a short dry spell in January and February.
©Rainbows over Okavango at Chitaba Camp. Botswana
Heading further south the destinations have one rainy season stretching from November through to March - with extension in some years during October and April. In Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe October is the hottest month and is generally referred to as Suicide Month in some quarters.The southern-most point of Africa:
Cape Town and environs is the exception to the hot-season rains ideal. The rainy season here is during the winter months from April through to September.
South African Summer Safari
Why is the peak season in South Africa's safari areas during the wet summer months when all other destinations peak during the dry season? Cape Town is a winter rainfall region with the tourism peak in the dry summer months and as the city is Africa's most-visited tourist attraction the rest of the country fits in to accommodate this influx.
Can you still go on safari in the rainy season?
The answer to this is a very definite yes. There may well be some areas that close during the rainy season due to inaccessibility but for the most, you can safari throughout the year. Aside from the previous explanation regarding the South African safari season many of the leading destinations remain open year round - and provide a great safari experience.
One of the iconic reserves of Africa, the Masai Mara, is a great year round safari destination, providing an unforgettable experience at whatever time of the year you may visit. Although travel consultants cannot guarantee the weather they are in the best position to assist in the choice you make for your African safari.