When to go to Africa
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.
The seasons are more complex in East Africa and deciding when to go depends on what safari experience you have planned.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda , Rwanda and Congo 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. Game viewing in Uganda 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.
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.
The East 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.
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.
Our beach holiday destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mozambique and Mauritius are generally considered year-round destinations, while the December to March months are the best time for a beach holiday in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa,.
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.
With over a decade of experience behind us, we are the experts in safari travel but this means more than just information about destinations and accommodation. Get our tried-and-tested tips on flights, getting around, what you should pack and what you should spend - it'll all come in handy when you're on your trip!
Africa is well served by international airlines and international airports in all countries. Once you've arrived, we can easily arrange a group or private transfer that will take you directly to your city hotel or we'll show you how to connect with your ongoing flights.
Our top safari destinations are usually accessed via a scheduled flight to the nearest airport and then a pre-arranged transfer to the lodge; however, private charter flights can also be arranged which will take you to the nearest airstrip, often just minutes away from camp. Feel free to contact us for more information on airports as well as flying into and around Africa.
For the more independent-minded visitor, most of our destinations are rustic self- drive destinations, however South Africa and Namibia are great self-drive destinations and suitable vehicles can be hired and dropped off at their major airports.
A question often asked by first-time visitors to Africa is: "is it safe?". Well, our recommended African destinations are actually some of the safest in the world and many are ideal for families travelling with children. We have many child-friendly safari lodges to offer you, malaria-free Big 5 reserves, and beach resorts with professional kids clubs. Medical facilities in Africa's cities and major tourist destinations are fine and staff at safari lodges will brief you about camp safety on arrival.
Security issues are no worse in Africa than the rest of the world: it's simply a case of using your common sense and not exposing yourself to risk. Our African Safari Experts will give you all the advice you need, and it always pays to ask for local advice once you're in Africa.
One thing that you will need to take care of is any medication that's needed for your trip, whether it's malaria prophylactics or a yellow fever injection. Consult your doctor during your planning or simply check with your African Safari Expert.
With ATMs and bureau de changes found throughout Africa's major towns, you can access cash pretty much anywhere. Most African countries accept US dollars as their currency of choice (as well as Euros and Sterling in some countries) but you'll need Rand (ZAR) for South Africa.
As for cards, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted across the continent but be aware of incurring high transaction fees in certain countries. For peace of mind, we'd recommend purchasing a world currency card or cash passport card before you leave.
While tipping and gratuities are not compulsory on your African safari, they are always appreciated. Ask your African Safari Expert for details on tipping, check out our country-specific travel advice pages or simply ask your lodge manager or host on arrival.
Packing for Africa depends on where you're going as well as what time of the year you're travelling.
If you're going on safari, it's wise to pack decent walking shoes, light or neutral coloured clothing (not white) and a warm top or jacket for the evenings. A sunhat is vital, as are sunglasses, binoculars, a camera, spare batteries or a charger, insect repellent, sunscreen and malaria prophylactics if necessary. An international plug, small daypack and personal water bottle are also recommended.
You may also need several items of warm clothing if you're on a winter safari in places like Botswana and Namibia as night time temperatures can dip below freezing. Conversely, if you're heading off on a beach holiday then we recommend you bring along a bathing suit, sarong, wide-brimmed hat and flip-flops.
It is essential to ensure you have the right paperwork in place before flying to Africa. Generally all passports need to have a number of blank pages available while visa specifications differ depending on nationality and destination. Note that visa regulations can sometimes change without much warning.
We recommend contacting the relevant authorities in good time or simply chat to your African Safari Expert before you go - they'll have all the answers.
For more expert advice on where to go, what to see and what to do on your African vacation, take a look at our Contact us.
African Travel Experts