When is the Best Time to Go on Safari
Knowing where to go on safari is one thing, but going at the right time of the year based on your interests and expectations is something else. In this blog we look at the best places to go on safari in January, February and March.
Like any vacation, deciding on the best time to go on an African safari is an important part of the planning process. The African continent is a big place, and so different seasons are best for different areas. The beauty of Africa is that there somewhere to go during just about every season. However, many people are unsure of when to plan their safari or of where is the best place to visit during the dedicated time they have off, and so we are dedicating a blog series to when to when to travel to Africa – Your Safari by Season. First off – January, February and March.
January to March is marked by the rainy season in Southern Africa, and so for your safari, we recommend venturing to East Africa at this time of year. Between January and March, the enormous wildebeest herds of the Serengeti’s Great Migration can be found in the south of the park, preparing to give birth to their young. Witnessing the first days of a young wildebeest’s life before it sets out on this incredible journey is an amazing experience, and so if you’re travelling at this time of year, we definitely recommend a stop in the Serengeti’s Ntudu Plains.
Kenya is also beautiful at this time of year. It’s mostly dry and warm, meaning game drives and activities predominantly take place in the mornings and evenings, leaving you to enjoy the luxury and comfort of your camp during the heat of the day.
You can’t see the migrating wildebeest herds in the Masai Mara and surrounding conservancies at this time, but the other animals are still in the area, and it’s also a much quieter time to visit. The Masai Mara is a much smaller reserve than the Serengeti, and so it is very difficult to enjoy exclusivity in this park while the herds, and the crowds they attract, are here.
Other great parks to visit in Kenya between January and March are Amboseli and Chyulu Hills. They host massive herds of elephants as well as scenic views of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
The privately owned wildlife reserves of Laikipia are also excellent. They are home to some of Africa’s most endangered and unusual animals, and are a playground for travelers looking to experience a truly adventurous safari. Many of the activities on offer here, like camel safaris, fly camping and others, are not possible in the state national parks, so if adventure is what you’re after, Laikipia definitely needs to be added to your travel list.
Northern Kenya’s Samburu and Sarara Reserves are also beautiful, both offering incredibly diverse landscapes, awesome wildlife interactions and beautiful accommodation options.
Moving slightly more inland, Rwanda and the Congo are also good at this time of the year, before the rainy season begins at the end of March. These countries offer some of the best gorilla tracking on earth, and encountering these gentle giants in the misty Volcanoes Mountains in Rwanda, or in the Congo Basin, is a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten. Both Rwanda and Congo have a tropical, wet climate, and so although rain is to be expected, it’s much more manageable at this time of the year as opposed to the hot, humid and heavy rain experienced after March.
AT THE END OF YOUR SAFARI
At Stanley Safaris, we like to combine the adventure of a safari with a few days of rest and relaxation, either in a metropolis like South Africa’s Cape Town, or at one of the tropical beach resorts dotted along parts of Africa’s east coast and the islands alongside it.
At this time of year, the Seychelles Islands, off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, are spectacular. The rainy season has not yet started and the tides are calm, perfect for snorkeling. Seychelles is made up of a cluster of granite islands and atolls, most uninhabited. The main island of Mahé is the biggest. It can be used as a base from which to explore the other islands, or you can spend the entire duration of your stay here. There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to accommodation, food and beaches, so no matter your preference, you’ll find something just for you.
Praslin and La Dique, the 2nd and 3rd largest islands also have a unique charm. On Praslin, you’re able to visit the Vallée De Mai Reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the famous Coco De Mer, a palm endemic not only to the Seychelles, but to this very forest. On La Dique, plan on renting a bicycle (there’s very few cars on the island) and explore the wide variety of spectacular beaches. La Dique is home to Anse Source De Argent, the most photographed, what some consider to be the most beautiful beach on earth.
There’s also a variety of totally private islands, home to only one resort and offering ultimate privacy for your stay in the Seychelles,. Our personal favorites are Alphonse Island and North Island, or Ile du Nord.
The islands off Tanzania are also spectacular at this time of year. Zanzibar is the most populous and developed of the selection, with many resorts on offer as well as the beautiful Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital that is steeped in a rich history.
A little north of Zanzibar, Pemba Island is what Zanzibar was before it was discovered by mass tourism. The island is a little more exclusive and offers completely pristine and often completely empty beaches, perfect for a tropical paradise experience all to yourself.
Mafia Island is south of Zanzibar and encompassed by a massive marine park, meaning the snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities here are phenomenal. Like Pemba, is it also relatively untouched by mass tourism, and offers guests some of the best whale shark snorkeling opportunities on earth, a bucket list experience for sure!
Deciding on the best time to do a safari to Africa can be somewhat overwhelming, but we at Stanley Safaris are here to help. There is so much to see on this continent and if you plan correctly, your safari will be incredible regardless of the time of year you plan your trip. If you’re thinking about a safari, but need some help making it a reality, pop us an email. Africa is what we do, and we’re dedicated to making sure you fall in love with this continent just like we have.