top of page

What Is an African Safari?

When you think of an African safari, what do you picture? It’s probably sweeping savannas and awe-inspiring sights of wildlife in all its natural splendor.


While that’s indeed accurate, it’s also not entirely complete. An African safari offers so much more. Beyond its unparalleled wildlife viewing, Africa offers a vibrant culture, stunning beauty, rich history, mouthwatering cuisine, and luxury African safari accommodations on par with the world’s top destinations.


What Is an African safari?


An African safari has the potential to be a life-changing experience. But this requires careful planning and curation. Optimizing your African safari starts with first understanding what it can be.


Let’s dive into some of the most common questions about African safaris. Naturally, we’ll focus our answers on Southern Africa, our area of expertise. And, of course, we’ll base on replies on our distinct African safari approach—giving you a clearer sense of what you can anticipate if you plan your African safari with our travel experts.




What Can I Expect On An African Safari?

Your African safari experience will primarily be driven by your preferences. We tailor your trip based on what you hope it will be. That said, we can provide you with a typical African safari scenario based on our years of experience.


Reception


Guests usually arrive at the safari camp during mid-afternoon and are treated to a warm welcome brimming with African hospitality. This reception usually includes a tour of the lodge followed by a scrumptious lunch or high tea service.


Afternoon Game Drive


After that, it’s time for the afternoon game drive, which typically lasts about three hours. Before heading out, guests meet their safari guide, who will explain what’s in store. It’s worth noting that wildlife viewing is the highest priority during the game drive—so have those binoculars and cameras ready!


Toward the middle of the game drive, there will be a ‘sundowner’ stop. This is a golden opportunity to soak in a spectacular sunset while sipping a cocktail. Your guide will have your favorite drink ready (we highly recommend the quintessential gin and tonic) and some traditional African snacks.


This stop also gives you time to chat with your ranger and tracker. These are incredibly knowledgeable people, so take advantage by asking them all the questions you might have.


Dinner


After the game drive, guests return to the lodge and freshen up for dinner. Everyone usually meets at the lodge’s bar area, where they share exciting stories about what wild animals they spotted on safari that day. Everyone then sits down for a delicious dinner, served under the stars and around the campfire. If you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to the staff performing traditional African dances and songs.


Guests often enjoy chatting around the fire after dinner. If you decide to linger, look up at the stars. Safari camps are in remote locations, so there is virtually no light pollution—giving you a stunning look at the stars.


The Next Morning


Safari mornings start early, with wake-up calls just before dawn. Guests start with a light continental breakfast and coffee in the lodge, then head out for a three-hour morning drive. At the halfway point, there will be a coffee stop. We encourage you to ask your ranger to add some Amarula—a South African cream liqueur— to your coffee because it’s a delicious treat.

Three giraffes standing together in an African safari park


After returning to camp, a delicious breakfast awaits the guests. You can expect something like perfectly poached eggs served on crisp, freshly-baked buttery croissants— or maybe some on the healthier side, like delicious fresh fruit and yogurt. The lodge's chefs will endeavor to take you through your journey of African cuisine.


Be assured that only the freshest ingredients are used to ensure that every mouthful is decadent and delicious, flooding your taste buds with new and exciting flavors. Again, this is part of the submersible experience that makes a well-planned African safari memorable.


No meal can be complete without the perfect bottle of wine, and the safari lodges offer some of the best. Carefully chosen, award-winning wines are available for you to enjoy throughout your stay. After breakfast, many guests indulge in the lodge’s amenities—lounging poolside or recharging in their room.



When Is The Best Time To Go On An African Safari?

The great news is an African Safari can happen any time of the year throughout Africa.

It largely depends on what you want to see and experience. For example, the Great Migration is a continuous movement of animals whose location changes throughout the year. So, if the Great Migration is a priority, you must plan to be in the right area at the right time—which underscores the importance of working with a travel expert.


If you plan to travel within a specific month or even a set range of dates, you’ll need to determine the best destination for optimal wildlife viewing at that time of year. There are many pros and cons of traveling to different areas or regions throughout Africa throughout the year. Again, I always recommend working with a travel expert to help guide you on when is the best time for you to go on an African safari tour.



Where Are Some Of The Best Places To Go On An African Safari?


To make it easy, I have split East Africa and Southern Africa and listed all countries I send guests to with the pros and cons of each.


East Africa


Tourists riding inside vehicles while observing the animals found in an African safari

Kenya

Kenya is a year-round destination, each season providing its spectacular experience.


January - March: Hot, dry months with low water levels and short grass. The wildlife has to fight over resources and can easily be seen gathered around water sources.

  • April - May: The rains arrive and are characterized by short, intense thunderstorms & rainbows. The landscape turns lush, and wildflowers abound. This is also when the lowest visitor numbers ensure an exclusive experience.

  • June: The rains cease, and the skies are crisp and clear with long, lush grass.

  • July - September: The migration arrives in the Masai Mara, and there are numerous river Crossings.

  • End-September - October: The grass dries out, and water sources shrink. The migration moves back down into the Serengeti. November: The short rains arrive and provide relief for the wildlife. December: The rains stop, and by the end of December, resources are getting limited again.


Tanzania

Tanzania is a destination that can be visited throughout the year.

  • January - March: These are the hot, dry months with low water levels and short grass, and the wildlife has to fight over resources. The migration is calving in the Southern Serengeti, which is spectacular.

  • April - May: The rains arrive, creating short, intense thunderstorms and rainbows. Lush, green grass, and wildflowers abound, which are simply stunning.

  • June: The rains cease, and there are crisp, clear skies. The grass is long, and the migration moves up the Western Corridor of the Serengeti.

  • July - September: The migration arrives in the Northern Serengeti, with numerous river crossings into Kenya.

  • End-September - October: The grass dries out, and water sources become limited. The migration moves back down into the Serengeti. November: The short rains arrive and provide relief for the wildlife.

  • December: The rains stop and by the end of December, resources are getting limited again.


Rwanda

  • Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is possible all year round in this beautiful little country. January - May: The rains gradually increase throughout these months, the trees are heavy with fruit, and the primates are full and content.

  • June: The rains cease, and the days are characterized by blue, crisp, clear skies.

  • July - September: These are the driest months, with only a few scattered thunderstorms over the mountain ranges.

  • October - December: Rainfall increases throughout these months, and thunderstorms happen a few times a week by December.


Uganda

  • Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is also possible throughout the year in Uganda, as is the safari experience.

  • January - May: The rains gradually increase throughout these months, the trees are heavy with fruit, and the primates are full and content.

  • June: The rains cease, and the days are characterized by blue, crisp, clear skies.

  • July - September: These are the driest months, with only a few scattered thunderstorms over the mountain ranges.

  • October - December: Rainfall increases throughout these months, and thunderstorms happen a few times a week by December


Southern Africa


Botswana

The country is a year-round destination.

  • May to August is the dry winter season with moderate days and cold nights.

  • June to August is high water season in the Okavango Delta with opportunities for boating and mokoro excursions. This is the best time for great wildlife viewing.

  • May to October sees increasing numbers of animals concentrated along the Chobe River and central Savute region.

  • September and October are hot and dry with good wildlife viewing.

  • November to April is the rainy summer season. The bush changes into a lush green area and birding is excellent as migrant species arrive in the area. There are plenty of young antelopes around.

Tourists observing a passing lion while perched on a vehicle that is parked on the side of the road

Mozambique

Popular for some of the best beaches and most romantic properties, Mozambique is a year round destination

  • April to September offers a sub-tropical climate and is the best time to visit.

  • May to November is winter with cool temperatures and the least chance of rain.

  • December to April is the wet summer season with brief downpours followed by sunshine.

  • January and February is the cyclone season in Southern Mozambique. We advise avoiding the Bazaruto Archipelago during this time.

Namibia

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei can be visited at any time of the year however, the dry winter climate from March to October is the best time to visit.

  • September and October can get very hot.

  • October to April is summer and the best time for bird watching. May to August is winter and the best time for wildlife viewing in Etosha National Park.

  • June and July can have very cold nights.

  • November and April is the summer rainy season turning the area green and bringing the occasional floods to the desert.

South Africa

The country is a year-round destination. Summer is from October to March, and winter is from May to August.

  • January to April is the best time to visit Cape Town.

  • October to April is warm and dry.

  • December and February see the occasional South-Easter wind, blanketing Table Mountain in clouds.

  • July to September is the best time for whale watching and seeing wildflowers in bloom. Kruger National Park is a year-round destination.

  • May to October is the dry winter season and the best time for wildlife viewing and walking safaris.

  • September and October are dry and hot, with animals concentrated around water sources. November to April is the rainy season and perfect for photography. Wildlife viewing is good, with young animals around, and bird watching is great.

  • May to October is the dry winter season and the best time for wildlife viewing in Madikwe Game Reserve. KwaZulu-Natal is a year-round destination.

  • May to August is winter with a mild climate, warm ocean, and the best time for game viewing.

Zambia

Zambia has a sub-tropical climate defined by a marked wet and dry season rather than summer and winter. The dry season and mild daytime temperatures run from May to October and is the best time to go to Zambia for game viewing in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Park.

  • September and October can get extremely hot.

  • December to April is the rainy and green season when the bush is beautifully thick and vibrant. This is the best time for bird watching as there are many migrant species in the area.

  • February to May is the best time to visit Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. The falls are at their fullest from April to May.

  • October and November are dry seasons, with very little water coming over the Zambian side of the falls. White-water rafting is done at this time.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, home to “Mosi-oa-Tunya,” “the smoke that thunders” is a year round destination.

  • February to May is the best time to visit Victoria Falls.

  • In April and May, the falls are at their fullest.

  • August to December is the low water season and the best time to enjoy water rafting as the volume and speed of the water are reduced, and the rapids are more exposed.

  • May to August is the dry winter season and the best time for game viewing in Mana Pools, Hwange National Park, Lake Kariba, and Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

  • September and October are scorching and dry months.


Conclusion


As you can see—from awe-inspiring natural beauty to downright decadent indulgences—Africa is sure to dazzle you. If you’re ready to plan your perfect African safari, reach out to us today.


Still have a question? Reach out to us today. We look forward to helping!

91 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page