Botswana Safari & Victoria Falls
Experience the best of Botswana, from wildlife encounters to exploring the Delta, plus a variety of activities at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Botswana has two distinct seasons - the dry winter season and the summer wet season - with each season offering different treasures. The best time to travel to Botswana will largely depend on your personal interests and travel style.
The dry season is the high season in Botswana, with tourist numbers reaching their peak between July and October. National parks and accommodation fills up fast, however it’s peak season for a reason - this is the best time for big game viewing in Botswana.
The rains have disappeared, leaving a dusty, dry landscape with thinning vegetation and scarce water sources. This forces the animals to congregate around the few remaining waterholes, making for excellent wildlife viewing and the chance to witness thrilling predator action.
The skies are clear and daytime temperatures are pleasant, although it can get very cold at night, so you’ll need to pack warm layers for nights around the campfire and early morning game drives.
Despite the lack of rain in Botswana, the dry season is also when the waterways fill up in the Okavango Delta, as water flows in from the central uplands of Angola. You can take a mokoro safari along the iconic water channels, spotting animals in the water and soaking up the stunning landscapes.
Although the wet season brings frequent downpours and some muddy, impassable roads, the rainy season shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly.
Known as the ‘green season’, the landscapes are illuminated in beautiful, fresh greenery, perfect for photography safaris. It’s also the best time to see huge flocks of migratory birds arriving and resident birds showing off their colourful breeding plumage.
It’s also the best time to see newborn animals exploring the plains, and stronger animals interacting with their habitat. However, it will be more difficult to see wildlife as they move away from the watering holes into the thick vegetation. Patience is needed to track animals in the wet season, but a glimpse of them is worth the wait.
It can get extremely hot during October and November, with high temperatures lasting all through the wet season. It’s also common to experience continuous rain during January and February and some camps and lodges will close down for part of the wet season.
January is a hot and rainy month in Botswana, with days of sunshine and humidity building up throughout the day, ending in short but intense thunderstorms. The rain offers some relief from the heat, with average temperatures of 35°c most days, and occasionally hitting 40°c. The nights can still get quite, so you’ll need to pack warm layers.
January in Botswana is classified as low season, meaning there are fewer tourists. There’s usually plenty of availability in the lodges and camps, but be prepared for some disruption to travel, as some roads become muddy and impassable.
Despite the rains, January still offers some great game sightings. Migratory birds can be seen across the country, and Africa’s second biggest migration takes place. You can witness massive herds of zebras racing across the Makgadikgadi Pans to the fertile and rich floodplains of Chobe National Park. Elsewhere, animals can be seen with their new babies, exploring the lush landscape.
The hot, rainy weather continues into February, but for travellers who can handle the heat, there are some exceptional sights to see. Birdwatchers will be delighted with the range of species hopping around trees, and the national parks come alive with a variety of animals and their babies enjoying the fertile grasslands.
Weather across the country will be a mixture of sunshine, thunderstorms and grey skies, although expect a lot of rainfall in February, and the occasional impassable road in more remote areas. Temperatures vary from 20°c in the nights to over 35°c in the daytime, and humidity will be high just before the rain.
Game viewing is a little more difficult this month, as vegetation is dense and animals have no need to stay near the watering holes. Instead, they are free to roam across the game reserves, so visitors will get to see animals interacting, climbing trees and relaxing in the thick bush.
February is a great time to visit the normally dry Makgadikgadi Pan, as it has transformed into a lush paradise of small streams and bright green foliage. At the end of the month, some zebras will begin their great migration north.
March is also hot and rainy, however it’s characterised by long, sunny days interspersed with thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. Temperatures vary greatly from a cool 20°c at night, to over 35°c in the midday heat.
Towards the end of March, the rainfall lessens and humidity is replaced with dry heat. This is a fantastic time for photography, as the landscapes are illuminated in rich green vegetation and rushing rivers. You can also spot big game as animals and their offspring explore the beautiful landscape. See monkeys up trees eating ripe fruit, baby lions attempting to stalk their prey and animals swimming in the overflowing rivers and lakes.
You'll also see Africa’s second largest migration, the great zebra migration, travelling over 700km to get to the floodplains of Chobe National Park. They start to leave the Makgadikgadi Pan and Ntwetwe Pan in March, and it’s an incredible experience to witness thousands of zebras and buffalo and their young galloping across the grasslands.
April is a great month to experience Botswana, with the country looking green and fresh after the long rains of previous months. There is still a chance of rain, but these will be shorter and lighter as the rainy season ends. A few of the more remote trails may still be waterlogged, but most parks and reserves are open and welcoming visitors.
Temperatures are starting to drop, with night time temperatures dropping below 16°c, and nights in the central Kalahari Desert being even colder. The daytime temperatures will generally reach over 30°c and you can expect clear skies and sunshine for most days in April. Gaborone and areas around the Okavango Delta will have less extreme temperature swings and will be warmer at night.
In terms of wildlife, April has a lot to offer. Follow the zebra migration north to the Chobe River areas or watch antelopes butt heads in an attempt to impress the females as their mating season begins. You may also spot leopards lazing around in trees, or baby elephants playing in the remaining water pools.
May is a great month to visit Botswana, as temperature and rainfall levels drop to create pleasant evenings and warm days. The landscape across the country is still bright green and this creates a stunning background to game drives.
Expect to see animals enjoying their natural habitats rather than crowding around watering holes, although this does make spotting wildlife more difficult as animals are not confined to one area. The Central Kalahari will be drier and easier to spot animals, and some herds of zebras will have already arrived in Chobe National Park after their long migration.
Temperatures vary greatly, from 12°c at night to around 28°c in the daytime, and in the Kalahari desert, night time temperatures drop towards freezing. Pack warm layers for nights under the stars and chilly morning drives. If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, May is classed as a shoulder month, so lodges and safaris won’t be as busy as the coming high season from June onwards.
June marks the start of winter in Botswana and the high season for tourists. Winter in Botswana is characterised by clear skies and warm days, but the evenings can get very cold, especially in the Kalahari desert region. While lodges will have warm bedding and fires, bring warmer clothing for morning and evening drives. Temperatures can drop to 6-7°c at night across the country, although the daytimes are a warm and sunny 23-25°c.
Wildlife viewing is becoming easier as the waterholes start to shrink in the dry months, and most animals tend to stick close to the main watering holes. The Okavango Delta region is at its peak so book accommodation as early as possible for the best camps and lodges. The nearby Chobe National Park also sees the arrival of zebras from their long migration, and they will now stay in the floodplains near the Chobe river until December.
July is peak season to visit Botswana, with warm sunny days and pleasant temperatures making for brilliant game drives. This is Botswana’s winter and temperatures vary from as low as 6°c at night to around a pleasant 23-25°c in the daytime. It’s worth noting that in the Kalahari Desert night time temperatures can drop to 0°c so bring warm clothing for the mornings and evenings.
The Okavango Delta is at its fullest despite the dry weather, as water finally trickles in from the central uplands of Angola. You can explore the expanding waterways by mokoro (traditional canoe) and expect to see all kinds of animals enjoying the water, from hippos and young elephants, to the occasional crocodile hunting its prey.
The zebra migration has arrived at Chobe National Park where the thousands of zebras will stay until December. Since July is one of Botswana’s busiest months, accommodation gets booked out months in advance. The northern region is the most popular, so try to book as early as possible to secure the best lodges and resorts.
August is a popular month to visit Botswana. The days are warm and sunny and the nights cooler, but not as cold as June and July. Temperatures in August reach highs of 30°c, but at night can drop to 12°c, or even into single digits in the Kalahari Desert.
Since the country hasn’t seen rain for the last few months, the landscape is quite dry, and game spotting is very easy as animals congregate around sparse watering holes. The only exception is the Okavango Delta which is full of water from the previous rains upstream.
Lots of visitors head to Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta as mokoro safaris offer incredibly close sightings of animals enjoying the water. Accommodation fills up fast in August, so book as early as possible secure the best camps and lodges.
September is a good month to visit Botswana for wildlife viewing, as there are few remaining watering holes in the arid landscapes, and they’re all surrounded by the country’s abundant wildlife. Head out on a game drive to see giraffes and elephants drinking side by side, while lurking crocodiles watch them. Most of the country feels dusty as there has been no rain in the last few months, and as animals start to lose energy, it’s likely you’ll see predators chasing their weakened prey.
Temperatures across the country are rising, with daytime highs of 34°C. Evenings are also getting warmer, with most temperatures ranging between 15-20°C at night. The Kalahari Desert and more remote areas will still be chilly at night, but warmer than previous months, and morning drives are now enjoyable before the heat of the day creeps in. This is still a popular month for tourists, so book accommodation far in advance to secure your preferred camp or lodge.
October is another popular month to visit Botswana, with excellent wildlife safaris. The country hasn’t seen any rain for the last four months, so animals are forced to gather around the few remaining water sources to drink. This puts antelope and zebras alongside lions and hyenas, so expect to see clashes as the hungry predators stalk their weakened prey.
As most of the vegetation has died off, it's easy to spot all of Botswana’s Big Five animals, as well as a host of other wildlife. October also sees the yearly catfish run, with thousands of huge fish migrating upstream in search of higher water levels, devouring smaller fish along the way.
Temperatures can reach a scorching 40°C, and you’ll head out on game drives in the early mornings and late evenings to avoid the midday heat.
November is an interesting time to visit Botswana, as the weather is unpredictable. Early November is as hot as October, with daytime temperatures hovering in the mid 30s and occasionally reaching 40°c. However, as soon as the rains at the end of the month, the temperature cools down, the landscape becomes less dusty and fresh greenery lights up the region.
With the rains come the migratory birds, arriving in incredibly large flocks around the Okavango Delta and the Nata Bird Sanctuary. Resident birds show off their colourful breeding plumage and baby animals make their entrance into the world. You may witness predators in action as they hunt the offspring.
Most animals are becoming more lively thanks to the increasing abundance of water and vegetation, however if the rains are later than expected, the animals will still crowd tightly around the sparse water sources.
December is a great time to visit Botswana. The rains have arrived and the landscape and animals are coming back to life after months of very little water. Expect rainy days and incredible wildlife viewings with predators picking off newborn animals, and big game starting to venture away from their watering holes to explore the national parks.
This month also marks the start of the great zebra migration, as the rain triggers their journey southwards to the Nxai Pan. This is also an excellent month for birdwatchers as the migratory birds have arrived.
December will be a mixture of blue and grey skies, with some impressive thunderstorms over the grasslands, perfect for photography safaris. Temperatures are warm with night time averages of 20°c and daytime varying between 30-35°c. The end of the month sees increasing rains, which also coincides with more tourists visiting over the holiday period, so accommodation fills up fast.
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