Witt Duncan | When to go on Safari in East Africa

When to go on Safari in East Africa

March 18, 2015  •  1 Comment

Last week's post was a broad overview of the steps necessary in planning for the best safari you'll ever take in East Africa. Topics were far-reaching, and depth of discussion really only scratched the surface - an awareness builder and teaser for what is ahead of you. 

This time around, let's dive deeper into timing. Just like your current home, Africa has distinct seasons. Not only does the weather change but, more importantly, so do animal patterns.

There is no one right time to go go on safari in East Africa, so don't expect me to answer that question. There is, however, a time during which the conditions would be most optimal for each of us. These times may overlap, or they might not. The important factor is that you go into it with proper knowledge, knowing what to expect. Factors to take into consideration include: crowds (and therefore prices), weather, migrations, birthing, and scenery.

African cheetah cubs eating gazelle in Amboseli Kenya AfricaMeal for TwinsCheetah cubs pick at a Thompson's Gazelle
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
East Africa has two distinct seasons: dry and wet
. The dry season runs from June - October and the wet season from November - May.

As the name would suggest, rain showers are few and far between during the dry season. Characteristics and implications include...

  • Because the bush is less dense and water is more concentrated in fewer locations, game can be more predictable and easier to spot
  • Days are typically sunny with clear skies (photographers - this means high likelihood of harsh light during the majority of the day)
  • There are fewer mosquitoes
  • Higher concentrations of tourists, especially during August and September, which translates into higher rates

The wet season has its own distinct set of implications for safari-goers:

  • Foliage is lush and green
  • Aside from the peak rains of April and May, rains are typically brief showers in the afternoon or evening that will not compromise a safari
  • Migratory birds are present, and birdwatching is much better
  • Dappled clouds can provide the soft, pleasant light that photographers long for
  • Newborn animals are more commonly seen during the beginning of the wet season
  • The parks are less crowded, and rates are lower

wildebeest migration crossing in serengeti tanzania africaLeap of FaithAs a part of their annual migration, a herd of wildebeest over 1,000 strong frantically scramble across the Mara River. What began with hours of pacing along the banks in anticipation precipitated in roughly five minutes of chaos, after one leader took the leap of faith.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Even more importantly, these changes in weather drive animal patterns. The largest of these is the great wildebeest migration - the 8th wonder of the world. This migration occurs in a roughly clockwise manner within the Serengeti ecosystem, which covers an area of nearly 11,600 square miles in Tanzania and Southern Kenya. It's a rather intricate dance of nature and cannot be described succinctly. This page has an excellent in-depth description and visualization of wildebeest migration patterns.


All content © Witt Duncan


Storyteller Design(non-registered)
Thank you for the article, i rally enjoyed it a lot. East Africa is definitely next in my bucket list, thanks to you guys. It seems so cool and captivating. It reminds me sometime last year i visited the Kruger National Park South Africa, it was an amazing trip. Getting to understand the wildlife you know, you can check it out guys http://www.krugerpark.co.za/. The trip advisers were very helpful as well, the guys were very knowledgeable, you can check out Iconic Africa http://www.iconicafrica.com/.
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