When is the best time to visit Botswana? Many African countries have an optimum period when the weather, wildlife and scenery combine to deliver a perfect safari, but Botswana is different, for you can visit at just about any time of the year, provided you know where to go. Each season brings its own attractions and some months have the added bonus of reduced accommodation rates too!
The period December through to April is the green season – the summer rains begin to fall any time after mid-November, but often later, and the intensity will vary year on year. Most people choose to avoid travelling at this time of year, but many of those in the know consider this season to be the very best time to visit Botswana. The country’s game parks come to life during the wet season. The central game parks, the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi, normally so dry and arid, are flush with greenery and flocks of migrating game, while to the north in the Okavango and Chobe, birds display their mating plumage and new born calves are born, attracting big cat predators. The rains at their heaviest can hamper game-viewing, but even in the wettest season, the timing and duration of rainfall is fairly predictable and game activities can be scheduled to accommodate.
In the dry Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans the rains bring the annual migration to the area, including Zebra in their thousands, who then give birth to their young. The pans also attract a massive number of migrant wading birds, and this combination of birdlife and wildlife provides the visitor with an amazing spectacle – keen photographers will be kept very busy! One thing the Pans don’t attract in huge numbers is visitors; this is still a rarely-visited part of Botswana, and even during the Zebra migration visitor numbers are relatively low allowing for a really private safari experience. There is no better time to visit this part of Botswana.
From May through to November the heat begins to build, water holes dry up, the vegetation turns brown and golden and the wildlife concentrates in the areas where water and food are plentiful. This is a great time to visit Northern areas such as the Okavango Delta, Linyanti, and Chobe National Park, where water and wildlife are always present. Many lodges and camps offer a combination of both land and water based activities to make the most of your stay. There’s nothing to compare with drifting through the thick papyrus swamps in a mokoro and surprising a shy Sitatunga or hefty hippo! For the Okavango Delta, this is undoubtedly the best time of year to visit, providing excellent opportunities for both water-based (mokoro safaris) and land activities (4×4 game drives).
So, when is the best time to visit Botswana? I have to answer… whenever you wish! Whatever time you choose to visit, Botswana offers vast, untamed wilderness areas where you can experience stunning scenery, an incredible variety of mammals and birds (including several endangered species), and sunsets that force you to stop and appreciate your unique surroundings. The important thing is to know where to go at any given time of year, as ‘peak season’ in Botswana depends very much on which part of the country you wish to travel to.
At Gane and Marshall, we can help you plan a safari itinerary taking into account your budget, preferred travel time, and choice of activities, ensuring you get the most out of your Botswana safari whenever you choose to visit. We offer comprehensive itineraries that include the best of Botswana’s northern and central parks and can also advise on the best times of year to visit individual regions. Visit our Botswana pages to learn more, or contact our safari specialists directly. Do also look out for our upcoming blog on Botswana holidays ideas, when we’ll be considering some of our favourite Botswana itineraries.