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Best time to visit Botswana and why?

4 Day Botswana Safari Tour

The 3-night/4-day Botswana safari tour takes you to Camp Moremi which lies nestled in a woodland area on the edge of the Xakanaxa Lagoon. The area is renowned for outstanding biodiversity, abundant wildlife and magical waterways.



4 Day Okavango Safari Tour

The 3-night/4-day Botswana safari tour takes you to Camp Okavango located on Nxaragha Island in the iconic Okavango Delta. It’s a safari tour of a different kind with idyllic days spent exploring the wetland paradise meandering along reed-lined waterways.



4 Day Sable Alley via Kasane Botswana Safari Tour

The 3-night/4-day Botswana safari tour takes you to Sable Alley, a luxury safari lodge located in the beautiful Khwai Private Reserve.



4 Day Sable Alley via Maun Botswana Safari Tour

The 3-night/4-day Botswana safari tour takes you to Sable Alley, a luxury safari lodge located in the beautiful Khwai Private Reserve.



When is the Best time to visit Botswana and why?


An overview of Botswana’s tourism industry quickly makes it clear why the country remains one of the favourite destinations and why tourists would queue to board planes for visits.


Knowing what to expect and when to visit due to the purpose of your visit to Botswana, makes it necessary to first know exactly what the country and the industry offer.

Botswana’s tourism industry is one of the most successful in the world and began to develop in the 1990s to become one of the most popular in Africa. Botswana implemented a successful tourism policy to increase tourist numbers, government revenue, and employment opportunities by focusing on attracting up-market international tourists to increase revenue.

The Okavango Delta region and Moremi Game Reserve is popular tourist destinations and its popularity with tourists has stimulated the growth of infrastructure facilities and services in the region.

Cultural tourism is also expanding in Botswana, with the potential to make tourism as a whole even more sustainable by reducing the pressure off existing wildlife attractions while creating a more equitable distribution of development throughout the country.

Cultural tourism provides tourists with opportunities to learn about art, heritage, and local traditions and village based tourism focuses on exposing tourists to traditional crafts and daily life. Revenue from village based tourism creates opportunities for vocational training and entrepreneurship for local women.

Many of the lodges are spectacular in a stylish and simplistic way that blends into the ecosystem in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. They are also known for excellent service by staff and local guides with extraordinary knowledge.

Botswana has a genuine commitment to conservation of the environment, its wildlife and its cultural heritage, which has the potential to make the country a leader in eco-tourism.


Which destinations is worth visiting in Botswana


Following the fact that Botswana is serious about its value as tourist destination, the country has made sure that the most attractive areas are suitably developed for that purpose. By development is not necessarily meant modern amenities, but rather pristine, exclusive experiences.

A visitor would find several kind of destinations worthwhile to visit.


National parks and game reserves


Among the country’s famous parks count the following:

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a large national park in Botswana’s part of the Kalahari Desert. The reserve was established in 1961 and covers an area of 52 800 square km, making it one of the largest game reserves in the world. The park contains wildlife such as leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, giraffe, warthog, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, red hartebeest and kudu.

The Chobe National Park is situated in northwest Botswana and is known for having of the largest games concentrations on the African continent. Established in 1968, it was the country’s first national park and is the third largest park in the country after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Gemsbok National Park. It is definitely the most diverse.

Chobe National Park covers approximately 11 700 square kms, and comprises swamps, floodplains and woodland. The Chobe River on its northern boundary is probably one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers.

The park itself is famous for its large herds of elephants, often up to 100 000. During the dry winter months of May through to September enormous numbers of these large animals congregate at the river to bathe, drink water and play. Elephant sightings are thus practically guaranteed here, and you may even have very close encounters with them while they are crossing your road or stroll past your establishment on their way to the water.

Chobe however is also home to huge herds of buffalo as well as the associated predators such as large prides of lion.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large conservation and wildlife area in southern Africa, which stretches across the border between South Africa and Botswana and comprises two adjoining national parks, in total about 38 000 square kilometres.  Approximately three-quarters of the park is in Botswana and the rest in South Africa.


Moremi Game Reserve


The Moremi Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1963, making it the oldest and first protected reserve of the Okavango Delta. It is one of the most diverse reserves and a favourite with all Africa-travellers.


The Okavango Delta


The Okavango Delta is one of the last remaining unspoiled wilderness areas in Africa. It is fed by the floodwaters of central Africa and covers an area of approximately 16 000 square kilometres. As the waters fan out into the delta, it forms a wetland system with beautiful water channels, lagoons and islands that sustains a wealth of fauna and flora.

The Okavango Delta comprises a network of meandering papyrus filled waterways and palm-fringed islands where one will find herds of elephants and other animals. The ecosystem itself became the 1000th site on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.

The best way to explore the delta is by mokoro, the name for the local dugout canoe, skilfully steered by a knowledgeable local guide.


Makgadikgadi Salt Pans


Makgadikgadi is one of the largest salt pans in the world, and apparently once was a lake covering about 10 000 square kilometres of north-eastern Botswana. For the last few thousands of years however, it has been the dry and inhospitable terrain it is today.

Near the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, and also technically part of it, Nxai Pan now forms an extension to the same conservation area. As a national park and wildlife reserve in its own right, Nxai Pan is fossil lakebed of about 40 square kilometres.

During the rainy season from November to April, the lakebed may become green and lush, and act as grazing field to herds of wildlife that migrates through the area. While the rainy season is naturally a good time of year to visit Nxai Pan, the area is open to visitors all year round. Throughout, you may be lucky enough to see a wide range of wildlife including lions, jackals, bat-eared foxes, giraffes, kudu, impala, springbok, ostriches and birds in the pan reserve.  It is surrounded by indigenous forestry with a waterhole as popular attraction.


Tsodilo Hills Archaeological site


The Tsodilo Hills are another of Botswana’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, since it was declared as such in 2001. It is famous for its religious significance due to a number of rock paintings (more than 4 500 cave drawings), shelters, depressions and caves.


Gcwihaba Caves and Aha hills


Gcwihaba means “hyena’s hole” in the language of the San people and these caves that are located in the Gcwhihaba valley are home to a fossil river feature. It has on occasion been described as the wildest and most remote destination in Botswana, and comprises an underground labyrinth of caverns and pits, linked passages, fantastical stalagmite and stalactite formations, and beautifully coloured flowstones almost like waterfalls of rock.

About 50 kilometres from the Gcwihaba caves, along the border between Namibia and Botswana, you will also find the Aha Hills. The Aha Hills cover an area of approximately 245 square kilometres, mostly in Botswana, and are rough and jagged, with numerous faults and fractures.


Nata Bird Sanctuary


The sanctuary near the little town of Nata is home to more than 160 different species of birds, as well as wildlife such as kudu, springbok and other antelopes. It is a community-run project that was established in 1988 could be visited since 1993.

Its magic lies in the close to 250 000 Lesser Flamingos and Greater Flamingos that visit the sanctuary every year during mating season.


House Boats on the Chobe


A Chobe River Safari is one of the most relaxing game viewing experiences in Africa. It gives tourists the opportunity to watch hippos, crocodiles and elephants (often swimming with their trunks held high as snorkels) and abundant birdlife with pied kingfishers, fish eagles and herons, directly from your bedroom.

Staying on a houseboat, you are permanently on safari, while you can experience wildlife and see Chobe from a different perspective.

Even with this little bit of research, it becomes clear that Botswana has excelled with luxury in the most wonderful of places, making it a must on every traveller’s itinerary.

But a few questions remain, and this article will further explore the factors that would influence your decision to visit the country, like the ever present budgetary considerations;  with what purpose in mind you would like to visit – be it to go on a wildlife safari, a luxurious holiday or just a relaxing break; your age; and how the weather conditions may influence your choice of destination or time of visit.


Factors that would influence a visit to Botswana


Budgetary considerations


Botswana follows a high-value, low-volume tourism strategy in an effort to lessen negative environmental impacts on its unspoiled wildlife areas while maximizing socioeconomic benefits.

This implies that beds allowed per concession area are restricted compared to other countries, a camp can only host a certain number of guests and only runs a small-scale vehicle operation to minimise the human impact on nature.

This in turn leads to a lower number of tourists and makes the guests’ experience much more exclusive but automatically also more expensive.

Government conservation fees and leases for land are high, locations in the unspoilt wilderness results in high maintenance costs, food delivery and waste management must often be done by air, and a high staff to guest ratio all contributes to higher cost of holidaying in the country.


Purpose of the visit – safari, luxury or relaxing


Considering the above, a visitor will need to decide how important factors like exclusiveness, solace, modern amenities and luxury is while planning a visit.


Age of visitors


Due to the fact that many destinations are almost inaccessible or roads at the very best not easy to negotiate, older people may need to consider whether they are fit enough for such a challenge. Fortunately, many destinations can be reached for fly-in safaris.




Last, but not least, weather circumstances, rainy and dry seasons and day temperatures will not only determine whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable to visit a certain place, it will also depend on the season whether you will find what you came for.


What to expect from each season in Botswana


There are best times to visit each and every one of the tourism destinations offered by this country, and there are not-so-good times, but never a time to stay away. In a nutshell, one can say that June to September may be a good time to visit the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park, while March to May would also be a fine time to visit the other, drier parks.

July to October generally counts as high season, but still you should not feel too crowded, except perhaps for Chobe. Low season can in general be seen as from December to April, and some lodges and camps even stay closed down during this period. Bad weather, if one may call it “bad”, might be experienced since these months may bring heavy rains.

The best tourist weather may be experienced in April and May, because during these months one can bargain on moderate temperatures, little to no rainfall, and only a few clouds to enhance your photographs.

The worst weather for travellers may be experienced between October and November and between January and February. During these months it can get very hot and January and February are the peak months of the country’s wet season.

The months from May through to October marks the country’s dry season and winter. During these months, there is less vegetation all around and animals tend to concentrate around water sources, making them much easier to find or spot.

On top of that, the skies are clearer, rain is absolutely rare, and the threat of mosquitoes, which can cause malaria, is much lower.

November to April is summertime in Botswana and being in a summer rainfall area, that means also the wet season. This may not be the high season but has its benefits for visiting: The scenery is greener, and you can expect slightly lower rates during this season.

And although we said that wildlife was easier to spot in the dry season, you should still see plenty of them during these months, with the added bonus that there could be a lot of new-born animals and migratory birds.

Except for the months of January and February, rain seldom interferes too much with any trip. During these months continuous rains may be experienced, lasting for days on end.

It can get very hot during October and November, with some lodges and camps even closing down during part of the wet season.

One may suggest that the best time to visit Botswana is during the dry season, that is between May and October, when travellers can expect warm, sunny days (between 22 and 35 degrees Celsius) and chilly nights. These are also the months when the water levels in the Okavango Delta are at their highest, resulting in the waterways and channels Botswana is famous for.

If you don’t mind the odd rain shower or two, the so-called green season, which is from November to April, is just as great a time to travel through the country. Visitors are less and prices are lower, the scenery will not disappoint, and animals give birth to their young.

But why would one try to avoid the wet season in the first place? Botswana’s rainy season from December to April is after all typical of a sub-tropical climate: the days are hot and humid and as humidity build, it may lead to spectacular thunderstorms, which in turn will take the edge off the heat. Moreover, it transforms the landscape into a lush utopia of life and vitality, not to mention the stunning photographic opportunities it offers.

For those who see their way open to brave this season, a special gem awaits too. This is the season when the annual zebra migration takes place from northern Botswana into the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi, to find fresh grazing in the grasslands of Botswana’s grassland-like interior. With around 25 000 animals on the move this is the second largest Zebra migration after the great migration of East Africa.

Visiting the Central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans are also generally seen as better in the wetter season when there is plenty of wildlife to see. More antelope of course also bring more predators like lions, hyena, cheetah and leopard, so if you are really lucky you may find them hunting the plains game that feed off the nutrient-rich grasses.

On the wet pans you may also see thousands of Flamingos breeding, after having crossed half the continent from the Walvis Bay Lagoon in Namibia. The area will in general be alive with wildlife activity as the season of plenty is also the time for territorial or mating disputes and the birth of many young as nature is regenerating itself after the dry winter.

The Okavango Delta permanently has water and can be visited all year round but in winter the thinned out plains and paradoxically higher water levels offer better visibility. In winter, water-based game viewing activities normally take centre stage.

The famous Savuti region of southern Chobe is also good to visit all year round but perhaps just a little bit better during the drier times when the animals are drawn to waterholes and rivers. After the first rains of November, when the young grasses taste at their very best, it draws large herds of zebra, impala and other plains game, followed by the predators!

Northern Chobe is dominated by the Chobe River and also best in the dry season when the animals migrate from the south to be near the river for their daily water supplies. Then huge herds of up to 300 elephants and 600 buffaloes, along with hundreds of zebra, impala and other antelope, move onto the river’s flood plains bringing lions and other predators after them.

Other animals, like crocodile, hippo, baboons, bushbuck, lechwe and waterbuck as well as lots of birds, stay next to the Chobe River all through the year.

The reason why one would see more animals during the dry winter months, is simple: Water is scarce, so wildlife congregates around remaining water sources. And of course, the bush is thin and sparse, so you can SEE the animals. But if you want a different safari experience with fewer people around, a lavish landscape and a new wildlife perspective, then Botswana in the wet season is definitely a very good option.


What day and night temperatures to expect in Botswana


Botswana’s dry season extends from May to October and, depending on variations in local weather patterns, November may turn out to either be dry, very wet or a stimulating combination of both.

Nights and mornings can be cool to cold with occasional frost, but the days are usually clear, dry and warm. And since you are not confronted with a wall of foliage like in summer, the winter bush has died back and thinned out to dramatically improve your game viewing opportunities.

Typical minimum and maximum temperatures experienced during the twelve months of the year in Botswana, together with the average rainfall during those months, are the following:

January: minimum temperature 20 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 33 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 94 mm

February: minimum temperature 19 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 31 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 81 mm.

March: minimum temperature 17 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 31 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 56 mm.

April: minimum temperature 14 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 28 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 44 mm.

May: minimum temperature 8 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 25 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 11 mm.

June: minimum temperature 5 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 22 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 4 mm.

July: minimum temperature 5 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 23 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 3 mm.

August: minimum temperature 7 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 26 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 2 mm.

September: minimum temperature 12 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 29 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 14 mm.

October: minimum temperature 16 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 31 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 40 mm.

November: minimum temperature 18 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 32 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 69 mm.

December: minimum temperature 19 degrees Celsius, maximum temperature 32 degrees Celsius, rainfall average 82 mm.


The best times to visit the different attractions in Botswana


The Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe are the places most visitors to Botswana want to go and see, therefore it would make sense that, while planning a trip to Botswana, the best time to visit these destinations, would determine their preferred time of travel.

Apart from just preference, like the tendency to visit between May and September (the dry season and winter) due to more moderate temperatures, there may be factors that plainly make it imperative to visit certain areas. For example, the Okavango is often flooded from June to October. Wildlife viewing, on the other hand, is normally good year-round, but can differ for some parks.

So, let us see when the best month would be to visit each park:


The Best Time to Go to Botswana – by Major Park


In general, Moremi, Okavango and Chobe are the most popular parks among tourists, and all of them offer year-round wildlife viewing. It is also generally accepted that they are at their best during the dry wintery season when wildlife is easier to spot, and the Okavango is flooded.

The other, drier parks may be best to visit during or just after the traditional wet season, because then the fresh grasses should attract wildlife.

Let us have a look at what each month of the year may hold in stock for visitors in every park in particular (opportunities classified as fair, good or excellent, to make it easier for you to decide):


Chobe National Park


Game viewing during January, February, March and April is good in the Chobe National Park and absolutely excellent during May, June, July, August and September. During the last three months of the year, October, November and December it is also good, but not as good as during the previous months.


The Central Kalahari Game Reserve


The first five months of the year, January, February, March, April and May, offers excellent game viewing opportunities in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Viewing normally is still good during June, July, August, September, October and November, and excellent again in December.


The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park


If you want to have the absolute best opportunity for game viewing in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, you should plan your visit during the months of March, April or May, since they are categorised as the “excellent” months to visit those parks.

During the months June, July, August, September and October, viewing opportunities may be a bit less, but still good, and even during January and February, or November and December, the so-called “low” months, you may still see a fair number of plains game.


Makgadikgadi Pans NP


With the famous Makgadikgadi Pans National Park your luck is in, because each and every month of the year (from January through to December, are good for visiting. Depending on the annual rainfall, you may find the pans filled with water or dry, but both provide an unforgettable view and experience.


The Moremi Game Reserve


The months of January, February and March are fairly good times of the year to visit the Moremi Game Reserve. The following months of April, May and June can be classified as good months, but July, August, September and October are seen as excellent times to steer that way. November and December are still good months to visit, but not quite as good as the previous few.


The Nxai Pan National Park


The first three months of the year, January, February and March, as well as the last, December, are seen as the excellent times to visit the Nxai Pan National Park. April and May, as well as October and November, still offer good opportunities, while June, July, August and September are seen as the “fair” months for visiting.


Okavango Delta


As with the previous attractions and destinations, there are not really a bad or no-go time to visit the Okavango Delta, but some months of the year just give one that extra that you may not find during the others.

Thus, January, February and March are classified as the fair times to visit the Delta, while April, May and June are better and classed as good. July, August, September and October are the excellent months and you would hit the jackpot if you are able to visit during one of these months. But don’t despair, since even during November and December, circumstances for visiting are still good.


Which is the best destinations to visit during each month


If you are bound to take your holiday during a specific month, a month-by-month guide to travelling through Botswana may help you to decide which destination(s) would be the best to fit into your itinerary.


Visiting Botswana in January


With January being hot, with long sunny days sprinkled with short thunderstorms, it may be the time for a relaxing holiday, with ample opportunity to sit back under canvas with a drink to watch the lightning play in the sky. Some migratory birds might be breeding nearby, and the young calves have to keep out of predators’ ways.


Visiting Botswana in February


February is the month for mercury to soar, still with lots of sunshine and dramatic storms that cause photogenic skies and call for photographs. The Central Kalahari may start coming to life and ripening fruit will lure both birds and animals to congregate around trees.


Visiting Botswana in March


By March the rains start to ease off, but both days and nights might still be very hot and dry. Whether you are in a national park or in the delta, shade would still be sought, but game viewing might be satisfactory.


Visiting Botswana in April


This is Africa and days may continue to be hot and sunny, but nights will start to get cooler in April. At least sleeping becomes more comfortable and the evenings become ideal for sitting outside with a sundowner as long as possible.

It is almost breeding season for antelope, so you might be treated on some males butting heads and strutting around to impress females.


Visiting Botswana in May


By May, summer is officially gone and with it the rains. Day temperatures begin to fall, and evenings can even be cool. By now you will begin to pack a jacket if you go on a night safari.


Visiting Botswana in June


Although June is supposed to be mid-winter in Botswana, don’t expect anything like in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere or down south in the inland of South Africa. Rather expect nice warm days without being sweltering and be ready for nights that may get quite close to freezing. Waterholes start shrinking and are frequented by both prey and predators.


Visiting Botswana in July


While warmer days may still be the standard, early mornings and evenings will be very chilly. Paradoxically, although it is now the middle of the dry season in Botswana itself, the Okavango floodwaters begin to rise – it filters through from the central uplands of Angola – and fill up the channels, so the time arrives to get out on the water in a mokoro.


Visiting Botswana in August


Botswana starts to heat up again in August. On occasion a bit of night-time frost may still occur, but during this time of year days can already get very hot.


Visiting Botswana in September


With spring in the air, one can expect shiny blue skies, ultra-bright sunshine and quite high temperatures during the day. As in April, the best place to spend the balmy evenings would  be outside on a veranda or balcony. The only difference being now that the soil is dusty since it was a long time since any rains had fallen, and the plains game constantly battle for survival as they are agitated by just as hungry predators.


Visiting Botswana in October


The heat increases rapidly during October, and activities should be timed to avoid the middle part of the day when thermometers can hover above 40°C.

It is however also the time for the annual catfish run, which sees them migrating upstream in numbers to avoid the falling water levels, devouring smaller fish as they go.


Visiting Botswana in November


November days and nights are hot and for the first part of the month the land may be very dry and dusty, hopefully to be transformed by expected rains that will come to soak up the dust and bring back greenery to the landscape.

Many young are born in this months, sadly just as often picked by the ever-present predators.


Visiting Botswana in December


Thunderstorms make their welcome return to Botswana and torrents of rain nourish the grass as part of the eternal show of changing seasons. The survived new-borns will quickly gain weight and at least get to stand a fighting chance against the predators now.


Which Season for What Activity


Let’s say you have the freedom to choose whenever you want to visit Botswana, then you will plan your trip according to the activity you want to pursue.


Bird Watching:


If bird watching is your purpose for a visit, the summer months would be the time to visit, since these just are the best for bird watching in Botswana. This is when all the migrant species have arrived back from the northern climates and you should be able to tick off quite a number on your list of unique sightings.


Predator Safari:


Since there are always large concentrations of prey animals in all the parks and game reserves, you will actually find a place in Botswana for predator viewing during every single season.


Mokoro Safaris:


The Okavango Delta flood starts to peak after July and is at its highest in the months of August and September. Most tourism establishments in the Delta will offer Mokoro safaris at this time, but there are also places and channels that have water year round where Mokoro trips will be available at any time.


Self-drive Safaris:


If you are lucky enough to possess a 4×4 vehicle, you will be able to access the northern parks of Botswana during any season. There may however be some places that are inaccessible during the wet and rainy season, due to heavy rains and flooding which occurs from time to time.


Wildlife Safari:


Wildlife is plentiful in Botswana all year round, hence as with predator safaris, there will be areas where general game viewing is excellent despite what season it may be.


Okavango River Cruise


The rainy season officially begins in December and lasts until March, but the weather can also be a bit unpredictable during these summer months. Severe droughts are not that uncommon, and while it would always be extremely warm, there’s also a chance that the rain doesn’t come at all.

The best way to see and experience the Okavango Delta remains by boat and tour operators offer cruises that traverse the length of the Delta in comfortable custom-designed game viewing boats.

So, is there a best time for a safari to Botswana?

With its unique attractions and locations Botswana is an ideal safari destination all year round, everything will depend on what the visitor wants to go and do or see there.

Hence, a last factor that may influence the time of visit, may be more of a cultural nature: cultural festivals, of which there are quite a few:


Special events in Botswana and when to visit them


Many of Botswana’s traditional village festivals were combined to make more modern events, and now the fascinating displays of African music and dance draw thousands of tourists.

Two of the favourite festivals are Gaborone’s Maitisong Festival and the Maun Festival.

Maitisong Festival is Gaborone’s major festival and takes place in March, with performing arts, traditional music, dance and theatre all over the city and its suburbs. The event lasts for nine full days.

The Maun Festival comprises traditional poetry, music and dance and is held over two days in April.

The Tjilenje Cultural Festival takes place in May the north-eastern regional town of Nlapkhwane. The traditional event involves ancient games, dances and stalls crammed with local food and drink.

Botswana’s President’s Day is celebrated in July as a four-day national holiday across the country. Inhabitants return to their home villages for celebrations, speeches, traditional dance and singing.

The Kuru Dance Festival takes place for three days in August on the Dqae Game Farm in the Kalahari Desert and comprises traditional dance and music.

Botswana Day is celebrated every year on September 30 with traditional events, street parties and parades.

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