As the world reopens, travelers everywhere are dusting off their destination bucket lists and starting their travel planning! For us at Explorer Safari, we can’t wait to welcome guests back to Africa.
Very positively, East Africa has become one of the first regions on the continent to open their international borders, and now with time on our side, it’s worth looking at when’s the best time to go.
Best time to visit Africa for the Migration
The wonderous spectacle that is the annual Wildebeest Migration continues to draw visitors year after year. Its cyclical nature means that if you are in the right place at the right time, you should experience one of the unique aspects of the event.
The best time to visit Africa for calving and seeing the multitudes spread across the plains is between December and March in the Southern Serengeti. Do note that the short rains make for a green, lush experience.
Keen to see the crossings? Your best bet is to be situated between the Grumeti and Masai Mara during July and August, when the herds swarm over the rivers in the hunt for fresh grazing.
Get a more detailed guide on when to go for the migration.
Best time to visit for Gorilla Trekking
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is home to over half the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population, making it a popular destination for that ultimate bucket list experience: gorilla trekking. Booking well in advance will get you a permit and a spot in one of our top recommended luxury lodges, near to the gates.
The December to March period is generally the driest time for trekking, even though rains are prevalent in other East African countries. The views are spectacular and the likelihood of finding the gorilla families is high. If you’re wanting to combine a gorilla trek with a migration or Big 5 safari, then June to August is also a good time to go.
Best time to visit for overall wildlife experiences
Luckily for all of us, East Africa offers a host of exceptional wildlife experiences in a variety of different parks and reserves throughout the year. Because of this, it is the ideal all-year-round game viewing destination.
Generally, the mid-year dry season (May – August) provides the most classic encounters: predators on the hunt, large herds of buffalo and elephant heading for water, plains game in their multitudes. However, the wet or ‘Green’ season from December to March is best for birding, calving and a truly transformed landscape.
The shoulder seasons (March to April sees heavier rainfall but beautiful light for photographers who are following the herds, and September to October, which is very hot and dry but offers excellent game viewing) are equally good, and can be enjoyed in other East African parks, like Amboseli, Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Best time to visit for diving & snorkeling
The East African coastline includes all of Kenya’s popular beachfront resorts around Mombasa and Malindi, but there’s no better diving and snorkeling destination than Zanzibar. The island is located just off the coast of Tanzania and has diverse experiences on the various coastlines during the year.
July and August as well as February and early March are considered the best time for scuba diving, with the latter being a fair bit warmer. The North Coast is considered excellent between June and October in particular.
Make sure to chat to your Explorer Safari consultant when planning your Zanzibar beach or dive holiday – although a certain time of year may mean the weather is sunny and warm and minimal rain, the varying coasts also play a big part in the experience you may have, such as on-shore or off-shore diving, diving visibility, and depth of corals as examples.
Best time to go to climb Kilimanjaro
One for the adventurous! Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world; no wonder it’s on very many bucket lists. While it is possible to climb Kili all year round, the driest months are the best times to go. The less precipitation there is, the easier the climb.
Most recommendations are for early in the year, or between July and October, with September considered the optimal time to climb. Just note that these periods are also the busiest.
At a Country Level
Best time to visit Tanzania
Tanzania offers excellent year-round game-viewing with the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater particular highlights for visitors. July to August sees cooler evenings and nice warm days, and dry-season parks like Tarangire are a must-visit during this time. Calving season takes place between December and March, which is also a wonderful time for birding in Tanzania.
June to October is also great for visiting Zanzibar’s beaches – the nice moderate temperatures make lazy beach days heavenly.
Best time to visit Kenya
Kenya sees hot temps in January and February, but this is when birding is at its best, with flocks of flamingoes converging on Lake Nakuru. The long rains arrive in late March, but by June, the weather has cooled and brings with it excellent game-viewing in parks such as Amboseli (which has spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro over the border in Tanzania), and Tsavo.
The crossing of the Mara River normally happens between late July and August depending on the rains; this is the best time to be situated in the Masai Mara, although game-viewing there is exemplary throughout the year.