Safari Adventure Seasons
Safaris are available year-round, but seasonal climate changes and other factors can affect game viewing and personal comfort. Today we’ll cover what you need to consider in choosing your ideal time to travel in the East Africa Safari destinations.
The best time for game-viewing is typically during the dry season, which varies from country to country as detailed below. During this season, temperatures are mild, animal populations are concentrated at rivers, pools and other water sources, and there is less vegetation to obstruct your view. However, the rainy season can have special draws as well, such as an influx of migrating birds.
Tanzania has two wet seasons each year, short rains that come intermittently in November and December, and long rains that fall roughly from February to May. Generally, the dryer months of June to October are best for wildlife viewing. Tanzania from early June is warm, sunny days and comfortable nights and ideal game viewing not only in the world-famous Serengeti National Park but throughout the country.
During rainy periods in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which boasts a terrific density of wildlife, animals congregate on the short-grass plains to have their young. At nearby Lake Manyara National Park, bird populations peak during the rainy seasons. You’ll find large numbers of flamingos, storks, herons, cormorants, pelicans and geese, among others.
Kenya’s best game-viewing periods are during the dry winter months of May through August and the warmer spring months of September and October.
Tanzania and Kenya share one of nature’s most amazing spectacles, the annual movement of nearly 2 million wildebeest and zebras and other animals across open savannahs in both countries, known as the great Migration .
Seasonal rains and droughts drive the migration, so the timing varies a little every year but there is a general pattern, described below. If you schedule your visit correctly, you’ll be treated to ideal weather and extraordinary wildlife viewing.
Wildebeests and zebras typically spend December to April nursing newborn calves in Tanzania. The slow-moving calves lure lions, cheetahs and hyenas, and the resulting mix of predator and prey offers prime viewing opportunities in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
When the rains end, usually in May, the animals head north in search of food. This is the start of the Great Migration, a steady stream of animals in columns that stretch for miles, heading toward the western and northern Serengeti. June and July are the best months for witnessing the migration in Tanzania.
By August or September, the herds begin to cross into Kenya to graze amid the lush greenery of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Some naturalists claim that the Masai Mara contains the largest concentration of predators along the migratory route. The animals will stay here until October or November. Most safaris visit the area before fall brings another rainy season to the plains and the herds turn south, back to Tanzania.
For more information on the Great Migration, and to book a safari see http://www.natureboundafrica.com
Most travelers to Uganda want to trek through the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to spend time with mountain gorillas. The best times for this are during the dry months of June through early September and late December through February. The rainy seasons are from mid-September to November and from March to May, and gorilla tracking during these times is more difficult. Daytime temperatures in most parts of the country are consistently warm all year, but it can get much cooler in the higher altitudes of Uganda’s mountains, especially at night.
Uganda’s traditional game-viewing preserves, like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park, also are best visited during the dry months noted above. Routes through the parks can become impassable during the rains.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is another key destination for gorilla encounters. Like Uganda, the best periods to track the primates are June through early September and late December through January, the region’s two dry seasons. The tiny country’s high altitude keeps temperatures relatively low here as well.