In Botswana, your safari experience can differ dramatically from season to season, each offering unique highlights. However, winter is generally recommended as the best time to visit Botswana for a reliably excellent game-viewing safari. But that does not mean you should discount the rest of the year! As the World’s Leading Safari Company, we at Rhino Africa know all of Botswana’s seasonal safari highlights at its great game reserves. We’ve been there for every season and are here to share exactly what you can expect.
June to October: Dry Winter Season
Winter is generally considered the best time to visit Botswana for game viewing. It’s the safari season because the bush is dried out and sparse by June, so visibility increases tenfold. Trees drop their leaves, and water sources disappear, thereby forcing wildlife to concentrate around permanent rivers. As a result, you can expect great variety and frequency of wildlife sightings, which is mainly why winter is considered the best time to visit Botswana.
What You Can Expect
Ironically, the Okavango Delta, fed by rainfall in the Angolan highlands, reaches its peak in the dry winter season. This, in turn, attracts large herds of plains game, with predators close on their heels. Therefore, you can enjoy water-based activities at your Delta safari lodge during this time, including the iconic mokoro experience. And the Chobe River, similarly peaking in mid-winter, is the only permanent water source in its namesake National Park. As a result, elephants and buffalo in their hundreds visit the river daily.
The southeast of Botswana benefits from similar increased visibility and game concentrations in the cool, dry winter months. Furthermore, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans put on their finest display of desolate beauty. At the end of a long dry winter, spring is also an exciting time to go on safari, with wildlife concentrations at their greatest around what scarce water sources remain. Most notably, the Okavango Delta, Linyanti Marshes, Chobe River and Tuli Block offer excellent game viewing.
- Safari prime time with excellent game viewing
- Water-based safaris in the Okavango Delta
- Comfortable weather with warm, dry days
Winter is the best time to visit Botswana for first-time safaris because big game sightings are almost guaranteed. Furthermore, winter is also perfect for families who want to avoid the summer months with a higher malaria risk.
November to March: Green Summer Season
With the first spring thundershowers, which arrive in spectacular electrical fashion, the grass rebounds almost overnight. Starved of nutrients for months, the plains game therefore cannot resist the sweet new shoots of the open plains – predator country. Migrant birds also arrive with the first rains, which almost doubles the species count. At the same time, antelope calving usually begins in November, attracting the hungry attention of predators.
What You Can Expect
The beginning of Botswana’s rainy season sees tens of thousands of zebra and wildebeest gathering and migrating south towards the fresh, sweet grasslands of the Kalahari. Many plains game are of a similar mind and head south from their Chobe and Delta winter foraging. As you can expect, all this traffic attracts predators in great numbers. Cheetahs especially favour the vast expanses of the Kalahari flatlands, lions enjoy the additional cover of grass growth, and hyenas just love a good meal in any shape or form.
While the Makgadikgadi Pans fill with water, thousands of flamingos, pelicans and waders of every description flock to the Kalahari to feed and breed. The east of the country receives significantly less rainfall than its counterparts. Therefore, safaris in the Mashatu area and the Tuli Block remain excellent all year round. The region also has good accessibility and visibility while retaining the African summer’s lush, clear beauty. Therefore, for many guests, the green season is the best time to visit Botswana.
- Exceptional bird viewing with migrant birds arriving
- Calving season begins, resulting in high predator activity
- Flamingo breeding season in the Makgadikgadi Pans
Wildlife enthusiasts who enjoy the heat and summer thunderstorms, birders and photographers.
April and May: The Shoulder Season
April and May are a bit of a wildcard time to visit Botswana. The summer rains can retreat early, heralding the start of wintry game-viewing conditions. Or, on the other hand, it can also be a wet two months best spent in the game-rich Kalahari. Either way, autumnal April and May are reliably drier and cooler than the preceding summer months, with lush scenery and clear light but without the high heat and humidity.
What You Can Expect
In autumn, Botswana’s wildlife populations begin moving towards known permanent water sources. These predictable seasonal movements allow for good game viewing opportunities at the hands of your deeply knowledgeable safari guides and trackers.
Autumn doesn’t always grab the headlines for the best time to visit Botswana. But take the bigger picture, and you’ve actually got one of the best times to travel if you plan to explore the whole country. Visitor numbers are considerably lower than during the peak winter season. Furthermore, you can expect great accommodation specials, scenery, and game viewing. This is Botswana, after all!
- Fewer travellers means more exclusivity and specials
- Game viewing is excellent near permanent water sources
- Water levels in the Okavango Delta peak
Travellers who want to explore the whole country, those seeking a romantic honeymoon in the Delta, and photographers.
So, When is The Best Time to Visit Botswana?
To say Botswana is an excellent year-round safari destination may sound inconclusive, but it’s a simple truth. Some months are better for water-based safaris, whereas others promise more land-based game viewing. But no matter when you choose to visit Botswana, the safari experience is always, without fail, sensational.
Talk to our African Travel Experts about your own specific safari requirements and the best advice about the best time to visit Botswana – for you.