When planning your African holiday it's wise to do a bit of research on when to go for the experience that you want; you don't want to start your beach holiday in cyclone season or find that the migrating herds you've arrived to see have moved on!
As a general rule, Africa is warm and sunny throughout most of the year but certain countries and even regions within a country experience a variety of climates. The key thing to remember if you're planning a safari is the difference between the dry and wet seasons.
When to go on a Southern Africa safari
The winter dry season in Southern Africa is between May and October and this is when game viewing is at its best, especially in the hotter, drier months at the end of the season. Thirsty animals congregate at waterholes, trees are often bare and vegetation is sparse - all of which makes it much easier to see wildlife. It's often cold at night during mid-winter but daytime temperatures are mild and the risk of malaria is at its lowest.
The summer wet season is between December and March, a hot and sometimes humid period with short but intense bursts of rain. The Southern African landscape is beautifully green at this time of year, the bird watching is exceptional, and many animals give birth, offering a special game viewing experience, not least when marauding predators move in for an easy kill.
When to go on an East Africa safari
The seasons are more complex in East Africa and deciding when to go depends on what safari experience you have planned.
Most Kenya safari destinations are at their best between January and the end of March when the climate is mild and dry and game viewing is at its peak. However, for the Masai Mara migration you'll need to go between mid-August and late October when the herds have returned.
General game viewing in Tanzania is at its peak during the June to October dry season but the best time to go to Tanzania for the Serengeti wildebeest migration is between November and August. It's a huge park so make sure you're in the right place at the right time to catch all the action - have a look at our wildebeest migration guide to find out more.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is a year-round activity but if you're hiking the rainforests, you'll certainly appreciate the drier and cooler months of January and February and again from June to September.
When to go on a beach holiday
While the December to March months are the best time for a beach holiday in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa, our beach holiday destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius and the Seychelles are generally considered year-round destinations.
That said, if you're planning a beach holiday, you are strongly advised to read the country-specific 'when to go' guide as there are several months you will want to avoid thanks to heavy seasonal rain, the risk of cyclones and extreme heat and humidity.