When To See What in 2021

One of the questions we are often asked is: “When is the best time to travel to Africa?” Surprisingly, the weather isn’t the deciding factor, although of course it plays an important role in the decision making process. The truth is, it depends more on what you would like to see and experience. There is so much on offer all year round that you could come to Africa at any time and not be disappointed.

We know that sadly many of this year’s holidays were up-ended by Covid-19, but the year ‘s not over yet. Let’s see if we can still make that dream African holiday a reality in 2020 otherwise let’s get the ball rolling on your 2021 holiday plans.

We have broken down the year for you into 3 month chunks, highlighting what we see as the main attractions during each time period.

January – March

What’s the weather doing?
This is the dry season across most of East Africa and the green season around much of Southern Africa.

What’s there to see  and do?
South Africa
This is the perfect time of year to travel along the Garden Route, a magnificent part of South Africa stretching from Mossel Bay to Knysna. The weather is good, it’s lovely and warm and the countryside is green and beautiful. It is also a wonderful time of year to visit the Mother City, Cape Town. Put the two together into one itinerary and you have a winning combination.

The zebra migration is normally in full swing in the Makgadikgadi Pans around this time of year. Not only will there be massive numbers of zebra and antelope, but the predator action will be at its peak.

This time of year sees loggerhead and leatherback turtles coming to shore to lay their precious eggs.

The southern Serengeti is lush and green after the rains and is the chosen spot for the migrating wildebeest, zebra and antelope to give birth. Where there are newborns, there will be many predators and your chances of seeing a kill are very high.

Uganda and Rwanda
With it being a drier time of year in East Africa, it is one of the best times to go on that once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trek. March is also a great time to see the chimpanzees in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest.

April – June

What’s the weather doing?
East Africa normally welcomes the short rains around the beginning of April and temperatures drop slightly.  Autumn in Southern Africa sees sunny, warm days and cooler, clear nights.  
Make the most of low-season and shoulder-season rates.

What’s there to see and do?
South Africa
Great time of year for a safari. The vegetation is starting to thin out, making it much easier to spot wildlife and the day-time temperatures are much more comfortable.

Mozambique and its magnificent archipelagos move in to the dry season from May onwards. This is the perfect time of year to combine a bush & beach holiday. With luck you may be able to spot humpback whales and dolphins toward the end of June as the whale season begins.

Zambia / Zimbabwe
The Zambezi river is in full flow and normally reaches its peak levels around May; a spectacle well worth seeing. The high waters also signal the start of the white water rafting season around Victoria Falls for the thrill seekers out there.

The waters start coming into the Okavango Delta around June, transforming the landscape into an enormous flood plain, rich with birdlife and wildlife – especially elephant. Another highlight in June is viewing wild dog in their dens – an incredibly rare sight.

East Africa
The wildebeest are on the move heading up through the Serengeti towards the Tanzania / Kenya border. Depending on the rains, the wildebeest should start negotiating the waters and avoiding the crocodiles of the Mara River from June onwards. Book as early as you can for this event as space is limited.

July – September

What’s the weather doing?
Winter time in Africa means cooler days (although not cold) and no rain with the exception of the Cape. This marks the beginning of high season and while you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of what to see, you do need to book early to avoid disappointment.  

What’s there to see and do?
South Africa
The Southern Right whales start arriving off the coast of the Western Cape and great white shark watching in False Bay starts around July.
The winter rains in the Cape trigger mass flowering in the Namaqualand region where the landscape is completely covered in luminous bursts of colour as far as the eye can see.
The cool, dry weather in the northern part of South Africa makes it the perfect time of year to spot the Big Five.

Mozambique / Mauritius / Madagascar
The best time of year to see the humpback whales off the coast of Mozambique, Mauritius and Madagascar islands as they migrate up to East Africa.

The Okavango Delta (the largest inland delta in the world) is traditionally in full flood during this period of the year. The game viewing here and in Linyanti is at its best during these three months, due to the nutrient rich grasses which attract large numbers of plains game as well as predators. Large concentrations of elephant can be seen in the Okavango Delta and along the Chobe River.

Temperatures have dropped, making for a more comfortable road trip around Namibia. The drier conditions make game viewing easier as the animals concentrate around the watering holes.

The temperature and weather conditions are perfect for a walking safari – and where better to do one than in Zambia, where they originated?

The river crossing between the Serengeti and the Masaai Mara is in full swing around July. It is also a great time to see predators in Southern Serengeti as they make the most of the migration stragglers left behind.
This is also a wonderful time of year to head to southern Tanzania to the lesser known Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve.
The Mahale Mountains in the west of Tanzania will reward you with an easier trek to see the chimps at this time of year.

The migration settles into the Masaai Mara around August making for superb game viewing and predator sightings. This is also the best time of year to combine the Masaai Mara with a trip up to Lewa, Samburu and Amboseli.

October – December

What’s the weather doing?
The cooler months come to an end in September and so does high season. Enjoy lower rates from November to mid-December before the festive season begins.  

What’s there to see and do?
South Africa
Warm weather and lower rates until mid-December make it the perfect time to visit South Africa. Combine a Big Five game experience with the Cape Winelands and a drive along the Garden Route for the ultimate South African holiday.

Victoria Falls
Low waters reveal the famous Devil’s Pool. For those seeking the ultimate adrenalin rush, enjoy a dip in the pool at the edge of Victoria Falls.

Around the end of November/beginning of December you might be lucky enough to witness the large herds of zebra migrate towards the interior of the Kalahari Desert.

Wonderful weather paired with superb rates makes this a winning combination for an island holiday.

October is a popular month for scuba divers in Mozambique as the majestic whale shark arrives in the area.

An event not to be missed is Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Lights, in Madagascar in November.

Make the most of lower rates and head to the Serengeti. Although the migration might be hard to spot, there is plenty of resident game in the area to make a safari worthwhile. This is also a wonderful time of year for birding in the Selous Game Reserve.