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The South’s Secret Safari Season

The South’s Secret Safari Season

It's the best time for game viewing in Southern Africa - the secret winter safari season!

Top 5 Countries for Wintertime Game Viewing in Southern Africa

These are the Best Winter Game Viewing Destinations in Southern Africa:

  1. Botswana
  2. Namibia
  3. South Africa
  4. Zambia
  5. Zimbabwe

Explore some of Southern Africa's leading game parks in these five safari countries, from June to early September. 

Chobe in Winter by Alex Berger

Top 6 Reasons Winter is Best for Safaris:

  1. Animals congregate at the scarce water sources during the dry winter months, making it easier to find animals and sight more wildlife in one go.
  2. Competition for food and water stiffens, resulting in more wildlife action between species at the watering holes.
  3. The visibility on game drives improves, due to the thinning winter vegetation (less leaves and lower bushes). 
  4. Many of the animals are out and about for longer during the cooler winter days, so you can expect more wildlife sightings.
  5. Winter is low malaria risk season, which makes it a better time for families travelling with kids.
  6. The cooler temperatues make for more comfortable travel with less time spent retreating from the heat of day.

The advantages of game viewing in winter are best experienced on safaris to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

1. Northern Botswana - Okavango Delta & Chobe Park

Moremi & the Okavango Delta

  • Winter is best for viewing the delta as peak water levels are reached in the dry winter months when the delta swells up to three times its usual size. 
  • Higher water levels are better for boat and mokoro (dug out canoe) trips in the Delta.
  • The Delta attracts animals from drier surrounding areas, resulting in one of the greatest wildlife concentrations on the African continent.
  • Weather conditions are more comfortable for travel, with lower temperatures.
  • Most roads are passable during the drier winter season and more lodges are open.
  • Fewer mosquitoes to contend with.

Okavango Delta by Tim Copeland

Chobe, Linyanti & Savute

  • Best visited at the end of winter from August to October when incredible concentrations of wildlife congregate along the Chobe River.

The safari high season in Botswana is during the winter months of July to early September. 

2. Namibia - Etosha Park & the Caprivi Strip

Etosha National Park

  • Namibia is hot and dry for most of the year, but the winter months (June to October) are not as uncomfortably hot for game viewing.
  • Animals congregate at the watering holes in Etosha, with floodlit night game viewing getting even better at the rest camp waterholes in winter.
  • Most of Namibia’s gravel roads become more passable in the dry winters. 
  • Conditions are better for photography, given the cloudless skies and crisper contrasts.

Etosha Park by Calips96 via Flickr

Caprivi Strip & Kavango

  • The wettest region in Namibia, Caprivi is best avoided during the wet months (December to March) when heavy rains fall.
  • Malaria risk is lowest in the dry winter months between May and October.
  • Game viewing is best towards the end of winter when animals are concentrated at the remaining water sources. 

3. South Africa - Limpopo & KwaZulu-Natal

Limpopo and the Lowveld - Kruger Park, Sabi Sand Reserve & Timbavati Nature Reserve

  • The bush thins out making it easier to spot wildlife in Greater Kruger Park.
  • Animals gather at the rivers and watering holes resulting in better game viewing.
  • Winter is low malaria risk season, which is better for family safaris.
  • The temperatures are lower, so it isn't as unbearably hot in the bush during the day.

Kruger buck by Helder Caixinha

Kruger Road by Xevi V

KwaZulu-Natal - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg & iSimangaliso Wetland Park

  • An ideal winter safari getaway, because it's still warm and mild without the summer rains.
  • Perfect for beach and wildlife combination holidays!
  • Although still relatively lush the vegetation does thin out, improving visibility in the bush.

White Rhino by Clive Reid

4. ZambiaSouth Luangwa, Lower Zambezi & Kafue Flats

  • April to October is the best time for game viewing in Zambia for the usual winter advantages.
  • Many of the safari lodges are only open in the drier winter months.

Hippos in South Luangwa by Alex Berger

5. ZimbabweHwange Park & Mana Pools

  • In winter the only water sources in Hwange are the man-made waterholes, dams and boreholes which attract particularly high concentrations of wildlife.
  • Hwange is famous for its excellent winter game viewing.
  • Evening are cool, so bring warm clothes.

Hwange by Terry Feuerborn

The best time for game viewing in Southern Africa is generally during the dry winter season from about May to August, as well as the early spring months of September and October. Animals congregate at permanent water sources, becoming easier to spot in the thin vegetation. Malaria is less of a risk in several areas and the milder temperatures make for more comfortable game viewing conditions.

The Secret Safari Season has arrived, so grab your camera and go game viewing in one of Southern Africa's top game parks!

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