African country travel calendar for photographers

When is the best time to be on safari for photographers and travellers? It’s always a good time to be on safari, but certain times are better for certain areas depending upon your interest. Of course weather is variable and particularly with global changes, and also special interests are a consideration. Therefore many photographers and other travellers generally should look to the shoulder times which often offer interesting skies with the coming of rain. Rain often means game and birds but it does bring with it challenges such as muddy roads and sometimes more insect activity.

The seasons in Southern Africa

Rain tends to come in thunderstorms in Africa. These are usually scattered. Its always beautiful and this is the rainy season from December to February is a great time for birding and there is great photography. Some camps close during the wet period. December to March is the wet season and now rates are 50% of premium times (except Christmas).  I do river trips on the flood rivers of Zambia each February and love the cloud build ups and colour at this time of year. From September to February temperatures of 40 degrees can be expected so its important to be prepared for the heat.

The most popular time for travel to to Southern Africa ( Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa) is from July to October. This is the dry winter season. The game viewing tends to get better and better as it gets dryer and dryer before the first rains in late November. There are good value deals in May, June and November. You often get 30% – 40 % off rates. June and July and August is the African winter and the temperature is very comfortable on safari. The annual flooding of the Okavango takes place from May to September.

South Africa for photographers

  • sophisticated lodges
  • excellent guiding
  • dependable viewing of Big 5
  • excellent infrastructure

South Africa has excellent year round good game viewing especially in the Sabi Sands and Kruger area. The best time for viewing is the dry season from May to October when the vegetation is not too thick. The bush is much thicker than East Africa so this is more of a consideration. However the period from November to February does have great birding and vegetation. March and April are very special months. Not too hot and not too cold and less busy than other times of year. Although people love the Cape in summer, November to January is relatively busy and windy. The Cape is wonderful in March and April and if you are keen on flowers then plan August or early September. Fields of Namaqua daisies occur at this time. Whales are also to be seen from July to October.

Botswana for photographers

  • least people, best wilderness
  • excellent birding and wildlife
  • Okavango is a  world heritage site
  • water and land activities

The best time for the Okavango Delta and Chobe areas is from May to October. At this time the rains are over and the flood waters arrive. Its also very dry so game concentrations are best. The concentrations of animals increase towards September and October as the temperature increases with huge herds of elephants and buffalo at this time. In November the impala drop their young, there are big clouds and it can be excellent viewing albeit hot. From December to March its the west season but Botswana is always beautiful and this is the best time for birding. In December and through March, the Kalahari gets its rain and brings in large herds of zebra and good action to that area.


  • desert scenery
  • cultural diversity
  • desert adapted animals and plants

Namibia is mostly about landscapes. However seeing animals in the drylands is extraordinary. The dry season from May to October is the best time to visit Namibia’s game parks such as Etosha as well as Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast. The game viewing here is dependendent upon good rains and from December to March the waterhole activity decreases greatly. The period October to April offers wonderful birding in Etosha as well as flamingos in the pans. The southern parks such as Sossusvlei are excellent all year round but the  summer period from March to April often creates the most interesting skies.


For many raeasons, Zambia gets first as a wildlife destination. Here are some of the reasons.

  • excellent wildlife and birding
  • great walking safaris and night drives
  • authentic seasonal bush camps
  • stunning rivers and scenery
  • excellent leopards in Luangwa
  • very good value
  • some of the friendliest people in Africa

The wildlife season is relatively short generally with most parks only open after the rains have gone and roads are graded from June to end of October. July and August are lovely months and from October to early November the predator action becomes increasingly intense.  Liuwa Plains is best in May for birds and November for the migration.  From November to March the rains come and they bring with them wonderful birding and from February to March the river trips in Luangwa are a delight. The best time to see Victoria Falls in Zambia is from April to July when its in flood.


  • excellent wildlife and birding
  • stunning rivers and scenery

Mana Pools and Hwange  are best from August to October when its dry and the nutritious seeds of the winterthorn albidia trees bring elephants onto the flood plain and the waterholes are at their most active. During the rains from December to April the game viewing in Mana drops off as animals are dispersed but the birding is excellent. Hwangwe birding is also excellent in January and February. The Victoria Falls from the Zambia side is great and offers relatively good viewing during the dry months from August to November. Of course the landscape are always excellent.

Kenya & Tanzania Highlights

  • wide open vistas make it easy to see game
  • great predators
  • culturally diverse
  • most predictable game viewing of cats in the Mara

The landscape of the Serengeti and Masai Mara is so open that all times of year are very good for game viewing. The long rains tend to fall in April and May and many of the camps close at this time. The short rains are usually in November. Having said this early April can often be excellent for game viewing and so can November. In East Africa the saying is rain means game and the main issue is not so much not seeing the game as not getting stuck in the mud. The dry season is from January to March and from July to October so this is where water hole activity is likely to be best. Its also better in more thickly vegetated parks. The migration can be seen in Kenya from July to October as it crosses over the Mara. Its a busy time in the parks however. The period from October to November are very good birding months especially near the Great Lakes. The Migration is in the Tanzanian Serengeti from November to June. It is generally moving in a clockwise direction reaching the Ndutu area by January where it remains until March or April and then moving up the western side of the park by June. The birthing season is form December through March.


Rwanda and Uganda for photographers

  • best for primates including gorillas
  • Uganda game viewing

The dry season is from June to September and from December to February so its the best time for seeing gorillas although this is a year round activity. The rains come in January to March and September to October. This is a much clearer time and often better for photography.