Southern Africa is home to unforgettable wild encounters, Big Five game viewing and world-class refinement throughout the year, but it’s over the winter months that the bushveld puts on her most revealing and rewarding show. June to September is widely considered the best time to go on safari, as low rainfall and pleasant temperatures offer game viewers and photographers the iconic drought-dusted scenes and an abundance of wildlife sightings that are unmatched in other seasons.
Cooler day-time temperatures (25-30°C) tempt animals to step into the sun and scarce water sources that haven’t caked into a patchwork of dried mud tiles attract migrating wildlife that wait their turn at the water’s edge. The dry season transforms the plains into yellowed grasslands and lush thickets die back to thin the bushveld, giving safari-goers deeper views and better chances of spotting camouflaged wildlife.
From white-salt plans to red-sand deserts and blonde savannahs, each of Southern Africa’s safari destinations’ unique landscapes, wild animals and weather are at their best in the winter.
South Africa is one of the most popular sumptuous safari destinations for its variety and amount of game, world-class luxury, and natural diversity in the bushveld itself. Here, the wild national parks and concessions in the north of the country such as the Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi and the private reserves in KwaZulu-Natal all have mild, dry winters that offer the best chance of spotting the Big-Five and other wildlife that roam their bushveld. During safari season, the daytime mercury drops from the humid high-40s°C of summer to pleasantly warm mid to high 20s°C, with sub-10°C mornings and evenings.
Close off your tour of South Africa with a sea safari along the Cape Whale Route, where migrating whales and their calves can be seen frolicking in the bays between June and November. The picture-perfect coastal roads and towns between Cape Town and Agulhas are some of the most exciting land-based whale-watching venues in the world or book your seat on a boat excursion to view them up close.
As with all seasonal attractions, Botswana’s wild hotspots have natural highs and lows, and the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve are best enjoyed in the cooler, dryer months between June to September. As winter sets in over the bushveld, drying seasonal pans and thinning the lush foliage, huge herds of elephant and buffalo congregate around the larger and permanent water sources, closely followed by prowling predators. View them by game-viewing vehicles on the plains, by boat cruise on the larger waterways or get hippo-eye views of wildlife on the water’s edge on a Mokoro canoe safari in the side channels. The milder temperatures (mid 20s°C) and mosquito-free winter climate make prime game viewing even better before the October heat sets in.
As winter takes its grip and seasonal pans begin to dry up, huge herds of elephant and buffalo congregate around permanent water sources closely followed by silently waiting predators. Being the winter months, the terrain in Botswana is much drier with less foliage on the trees and bushes which hugely assists with spotting animals.
Discover the white-dust lunar landscapes of Etosha National Park’s salt plans and the red-dune desert-scapes further south on a winter safari tour of Namibia. Although the driest country in Southern Africa, the stark landscapes are anything but lifeless, and scarce water sources are as rewarding to onlookers as they are to their thirsty wild visitors. June to September are the driest and coolest months of the year, with virtually no rain and warm but not sizzling day-time highs (low to mid 20s°C) that plummet to single digits at night, in some rare instances even dropping below freezing. It’s over these winter months that large varieties of game frequent permanent waterholes at the same time, creating the ‘Noah’s Ark’ scenes Namibia is famous for, and desert-adapted wildlife viewing is at its peak. To secure your seat in high season, we recommend booking your safari as far in advance as possible.
This is Namibia’s driest time of the year with virtually no rain. Daytime temperatures drop and nights can be cold, in some rare instances even dropping below freezing. It is quite possible to experience four seasons in a day during this period.
Mozambique is home to a different kind of safari experience, one viewed through goggles in a landscape of blue depths and colourful coral reefs. Here, the dried golds and greys of the bushveld are replaced with tropical palm-fringed beaches and warm turquoise waters where the wildlife is finned, with vivid experiences and unique close encounters that rival the savannahs of their western neighbours. Enjoy a sea safari by sunset dhow, where you can swim beside whale sharks and south-bound Humpback Whales, or view the vibrant world beneath the surface on a snorkel or scuba safari. As with our other destinations, the winter weather along the Mozambican coastline and islands is dry and pleasantly warm (23-30°C by day and 12-20°C at night), with cloudless sunny skies and minimal chance of tropical storms, making the all-round blissful conditions between June to September the best time to visit.
June to September are possibly some of the best months to visit Mozambique and conditions are all-around blissful. Conveniently, this is also when the humpback whales start to migrate down the coast.
Pack your sandals and your scarves, and gear yourself for a winter holiday unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Browse Scintilla’s wild trips and experiences or contact us to book your bespoke winter safari between June and September.