Botswana: When to Go

Of all our safari destinations, Botswana has the best infrastructure for a year-round safari. The time of year you choose to travel will depend on your interests and your budget but generally there is something to offer the safari enthusiast throughout the year.

Summer is from November to the end of March and usually brings very high temperatures. It is also the rainy season and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down, although only usually for a short period of time.  Most of the rains fall during December to March. Temperatures can rise to 40°C during the day and remain at 25°C at night.

The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm, averaging in the mid 20’s; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas.  At this time of year we recommend you pack some very warm clothing including an anorak/winter jacket, a beanie, scarf and gloves. September and October still tend to be dry but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights warmer than in winter.

The summer months (November – March) are the off-peak or “green” season for most of Botswana and some great deals are available at this time. Many camps offer such highly discounted rates that they remain extremely busy. So this is a great time to travel if you are on a restricted budget, or want to travel for a longer duration within a fixed budget. Single supplements are often dropped during these months.

Game viewing in the summer months can still be extremely rewarding but the guides and guests need to be prepared to work harder for the sightings. Long grasses and thick vegetation mean that visibility can be difficult, making sightings less frequent. The animals are also scattered over a much wider area as water and food are readily available. On the upside this is a wonderful time of the year for photography. The light is clear and the green vegetation provides an excellent photographic background. The animals are healthy and relaxed as this is a time of plenty. There are also high levels of new-born animals around, often providing easy meals for predators. This is a great time for birding enthusiasts as many migratory species spend the summer months in Botswana.

Certain areas in Botswana, such as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Nxai Pan are actually at their best during the summer months and this is the peak season for these destinations.

June – October is traditionally the high season and most of the camps in Botswana command very high prices during these months. As the water sources slowly dry up, game congregates around remaining waterholes and rivers, allowing viewing in greater numbers. Vegetation dies back improving visibility and making the animals much easier to spot. If your aim is to see as many animals as possible then travel towards the end of the dry season, although by October it can be uncomfortably hot (and remember most of the camps in Botswana don’t have air-conditioning!) and there is always the risk of the rains starting early. The downside of this time of year (apart from the high prices) is that towards the end of the dry season many of the animals are stressed by the daily battle to find sufficient food and water and some can be in poor condition. Also the air can be very dusty and the light harsh so it isn’t the best time for photography.

The “shoulder” months of April / May can also be a good time to travel. The rains should be over, although vegetation will still be green and lush making visibility difficult. Prices are still somewhat lower than the peak season months. May/June is rutting season for most antelopes offering great sexual displays and territoriality.