Botswana, which is south of the Equator, has seasons that are different to those in the north hemisphere. However, this works out for us because the best time to go on a Botswana safari in winter is April through October with clear skies and drier days.
“Pulu” is the Setswana term for rain, and it has a significant impact on the way that the locals live their lives. This is what they need to grow crops, as well as to sustain their animals and human beings. Despite our negative perceptions of the rainy season, it is essential for Botswana’s communities.
The best time to visit Botswana is, in summary:
With clear days and cooler temperatures, May through September are the most popular months to visit. You have the best chance to see the big five, and also enjoy beautiful birdlife.
October and April are shoulder season between winter and summer, so they are likely to see bright and dry days.
Botswana’s hot, dry climate is complemented by unpredictable rainy seasons throughout the year.
Botswana Seasonal Overviews
Botswana, like most safari destinations, has distinct seasons with their own pros and cons. Here’s a quick overview of the seasons and their differences.
April through November
You can expect clear skies and almost uninterrupted blue skies during the dry season, which generally runs from April through November. The coolest months are June through August, when the Kalahari desert temperatures drop below freezing. The heat slowly builds up from September and peak in October. The Okavango Delta has moderately pleasant temperatures. The year’s highest water level, which is the most favorable for wildlife sightings, coincides with the peak of the dry season. The region’s terrestrial animals, such as elephants, lions, and buffalo, will be more concentrated in areas where there is less land than they are when there is more water. Animals will congregate around watering holes, which is another advantage for sightings. The dry season makes it easier to travel outside of the Delta. Trails and roads are also more accessible.
From December to March
From December to March, the wet season is marked by colder temperatures and heavy rains. January and February are the wettest months. These short, sharp showers often follow by bright sunshine, so game drives are still possible. Botswana’s spring and summer months coincide with many herbivores’ birthing seasons. With so many young, there is a high chance of predator-prey interactions. High concentrations of game can even be found in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. They make the most of the lush grasses, flowers and riverbeds that are usually dry. The many summer migrants will provide birdwatchers with a wide variety of options. Photographers can take advantage of the great light conditions to capture the land’s vibrant colours through their lenses. Great game viewing opportunities are also available in the shoulder seasons of November/December, as well as May/June during dry season. These shoulder seasons offer great value and great prices.
Botswana: When is the best time to visit?
Wild Dogs: Although wild dogs can be found all year round, it is best to avoid November through March due to heavy rains.
Big Cats: Although they are present throughout the year, it is best to avoid November through March due to heavy rains. They can be harder to spot. When there is less vegetation to hide, the drier months are the best.
Zebra Migration: The second largest and least well-known great mammal migration in Botswana is the zebra. This happens between March and April.
Meerkats: Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana’s best spot to see meerkats. When the migratory herds are gone, July-September is the best time to visit. This is also the best season to quad bike and go on bushman walks.
Baby Grazers – Botswana’s young calfs are born in May and June. This is a great time to catch some amazing predator action.
The Okavango Delta Water Levels
The Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s most beautiful natural wonders is Botswana’s top attraction for safari-goers. The Okavango River supplies the Delta, which originates in the Angola highlands and travels hundreds miles to eventually reach a large portion of northern Botswana. The Delta receives 2.5 trillion gallons annually. This covers an area of approximately 2,000 to 6,000 miles depending on the conditions. The Delta water levels fluctuate throughout the year so be sure to take this into consideration when planning your trip.
The Delta’s water levels begin to rise in May. However, this could be delayed if there has been heavy rainfall in the area in January or February. The highest water levels are found in June and July because the delta is where the rains from Angola in the beginning of the year reach it. The cycle starts again in August when the Delta’s water levels start to decline. Keep in mind that the highest water levels occur during Botswana’s dry seasons. There will be plenty of water in the Delta but very little rain.
The Delta sand is like a sponge. After drying for a while, the sand of the Delta will absorb any water that is introduced to it quickly. However, as time passes, more water will be absorbed by it, leaving more on the surface. This is why the water level rises in the middle of the year. The Delta’s wildlife will move to the highest land above the water level when the water levels rise. This results in better game viewing because there are less areas where terrestrial animals are found. Keep in mind that the water levels will stay higher as you move further north into Delta, closer to the Okavango River.
Botswana’s Best Time to Visit Botswana If You Want to Experience…
Botswana has great connections to Mauritius and other locations, including wildlife and beach combos. The best time to combine Botswana and Mauritius is from May to mid November.
Bushman walks: Walking with the Kalahari bushmen is an unforgettable experience. The best time to learn their skills and crafts is from July to September.
Camping Safaris: You can camp out among Botswana’s wildlife all year, depending on your interests.
The Kalahari Desert Blooms: The Kalahari Desert blooms with the arrival of the rains in December and March.
Mokoro rides in Delta: All year, the best time to go is dependent on the water level.
Victoria Falls: The Falls will peak between February and August. The waters reach their highest point around May.
Walking Safaris: November through March – outside the wet season
Botswana is a vibrant country that offers many events to enjoy during your safari. Learn more about Botswana and our top travel times.
Between January and April, the second-largest animal migration to Africa occurs. Large herds of zebras and other herbivores make their way into the often arid salt pans in north-central Botswana. These areas are then repopulated with vegetation following the annual rains. Chobe National Park houses an estimated 50,000 elephants, making it the largest concentration of elephants in Africa. They migrate between the park’s southeast section during the dry season and the Chobe River and Linyanti Rivers during wet season. Botswana’s wild dog denning season is between June and September. This gives you the best chance to see the predators, as they will be close to their dens to care for their pups.