One of the most common questions I get asked about Africa is "When is the best time to go?"  The answer to this isn't as simple as you might think, and anyone who's experienced the complexity of Africa's seasons will tell you exactly that.

Gazelles, Ol Donyo, Kenya Kenya in the green season is just beautiful

Of course, there is a typical 'safari season' between June and October, which is when most people go, during the cooler dry months when there is limited rainfall, moderate temperatures, grasses are low, many shrubs (like the mopanes in southern Africa) drop their leaves, and consequently visibility for wildlife sightings is better.  In East Africa, the safari season is when you've got the best chance of seeing the famous Great Wildebeest Migration.  The disadvantage of going in the 'prime time' for safaris, between about June and October, is that you pay a premium for the experience, in some places almost twice the price of other times of year.

So when do the locals go on safari?  Well, here's the big secret.  It's often not peak season, but in the 'green' season, between about November and May.  Personally it's my favourite time of year and here's why I reckon it's worth considering.

1) Baby animal fiesta

When the rains finally come in Africa, nature responds with fresh green grass and this triggers a baby boom that will melt the heart of even the most hardened game ranger.  Baby impalas, baby cheetahs, baby springboks, baby wildebeests, baby zebras....  It's a very special time of year around Feb/Mar when many of the babies drop and I just love being there then to witness it.

Baby impala Baby impala in Botswana in late November

2) Epic thunder storms

To me Africa's always been a place where I feel truly alive.  It's hard to explain if you haven't been there.  But during a thunderstorm the energy of the place is even more amazing.  There's nothing like the smell of fresh rain on earth that hasn't seen water in six months or so.  The photography opportunities afforded by the striking cloud formations as a big storm comes in are a dream for photographers.  Sure, you might get bogged in the mud the next day, but hey that's part of the fun!

Okavango sunset, green season - cloudy skies make for great photos Okavango sunset, green season (early December) - cloudy skies make for great photos

3) Won't hurt your wallet as much

Another major advantage of travelling in the green season is that prices are much lower because it's not peak season.  Sometimes you can pay more than half the price of peak season in the most popular safari countries like Kenya and Botswana.  So your money stretches further, which means you can stay in Africa longer!

Elephants in the Okavango, early green season Relaxed elephants drinking in the Okavango, Botswana, in late November


My Green Season Safaris in 2016

I am leading two ethical safaris in 2016, the first to Kenya's Maasai Mara in Feb/Mar and the second to Botswana's Okavango Delta & Makgadigadi Pan in Oct/Nov, both limited to 10/12 people plus me (yep, you have your own personal zoologist all the way through and I will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the mating behaviour of dung beetles and the like!).  If you'd like to join one of these groups, let me know or contact me for more information.

Kenyan Maasai Mara Safari - Feb/Mar 2016

Day 1: Visit to Daphne Sheldrick's elephant orphanage & overnight at Ole Serene Lodge, a luxury hotel in a game park in Nairobi

Days 2-4: 3 nights at Naibosho Camp, Maasai Mara, a unique community partnership in an astounding area for wildlife

Days 5-7: 3 nights at the Mara Houses, Maasai Mara, like living in your very own bush house in the wilderness

US$5250/person sharing - limited to 12 people (if we get more than 8 people I can reduce the price of this one further).

All inclusive price (all accommodation, meals, drinks etc), but excludes international flights.

This is exactly the same as my sold-out safari to Kenya this July (peak season), but with an extra night and for a lower price!

Kenya in the green season Kenya in the green season


Botswana Okavango and Makgadigadi Safari - Oct/Nov 2016

Days 1-3: Arrive in Maun and fly to Pelo Camp, an eco-friendly oasis on a wildlife-rich island in the heart of the world heritage listed Okavango Delta.  Activities include wildlife viewing by both mokoro (wooden dugout canoe) and open vehicle.

Days 4-7: Return flight to Maun & drive to Meno A Kwena Camp, home to the San Bushmen & overlooking the Boteti River.  Includes cultural activities with the San Bushmen, the chance to see wild meerkats & a full day excursion & sleep-out at the Makgadigadi Pans National Park.

US$5,500/person sharing.  Limited to 10 people plus me.

All inclusive price (all accommodation, meals, drinks etc), but excludes international flights.

Early green season in the Okavango, Botswana, taken on my safari there in Nov last year Early green season in the Okavango, Botswana, taken on my safari there in Nov last year

Dates will be confirmed as numbers firm up, but I need to book these camps now before they sell out so drop me a line now if you're interested!

2015-05-28 11:54:51