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Best Time to Go to Botswana

Best Time to go to Botswana for Safari

The best time to visit Botswana is during the dry season, with May to October being the most popular time to visit, seeing clear days, cooler temperatures and the best chance of seeing the big five. October and April are the shoulder seasons and are still likely to have dry, bright days. Lying south of the equator, Botswana’s hot and dry climate is interspersed with unpredictable rainy months throughout the summer and opposite seasons to that in the northern hemisphere.

In contrast, the green season, which spans from December to April, offers its own unique charm. While the occasional afternoon rain shower restores the landscape, it's during this period that the lush, emerald vegetation emerges, attracting migratory birds that fill the air with their melodic calls. If you're a birdwatching enthusiast or wish to witness the magic of baby animals taking their first steps, the green season might be the perfect time for your Botswana adventure.

St Botswana Vehicle Makgadikgadi Pans Chrisdaviez
Botswana Black Mane Lion Stephanie Periquet

Talk to a Botswana Destination Specialist

The best time to visit Botswana

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

The peak of the rainy season with an average rainfall of over 100mm a month, January is one of the least favourable times to visit Botswana. Temperatures are cooler and downpours can be somewhat unpredictable, it is much harder to see wildlife as it is more scattered, hiding in the long grasses.

In the more north easterly parts of the Chobe National Park rainfall is the most extreme and south western parks such as Kgalagadi, on average, receive notably less rainfall. Gemsbok are the emblem of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and are often seen in larger groups during the rainy season. They are forced to search out fresh vegetation and become nomadic so you will see them regularly during game drives here.

If you have a particular interest in birds, the rainy season could be the best time for you to visit. Birds of prey are also famous at Kgalagadi, seeking out their targets and going in for the kill, a spectacular sight for birdwatchers and photographers.

Being off-season, January is a significantly cheaper time to visit, although some lodges and camps may be closed.

April to November - Dry Season

The dry season broadly occurs from April to November when you can expect to see clear and near uninterrupted blue skies. June to August are the coolest months when desert temperatures in the Kalahari are known to drop below freezing. From September onwards the heat gradually builds up and peaks, sometimes unbearably in October. Temperature extremes are much more moderate and pleasant in the Okavango Delta. Here, the height of the dry season coincides with the year's highest water levels, which are the most conducive to wildlife sightings. With less land available, the terrestrial animals of the region like elephant, lion and buffalo, will be found congregating around the remaining watering holes. Outside of the Delta, the dry season is easier to travel as roads and trails become more easily traversable and it is easier to spot wildlife in the short grasses and dry plains.

December to March - Wet Season

The wet season sees cooler temperatures and heavy showers, with January and February being the wettest months. The short, sharp showers are often followed by bright sunshine and are unlikely to last all day, so game drives are still possible. These months coincide with the birthing season for many herbivores, and with lots of young around, the possibility of predator-prey interactions is high. Even in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, high concentrations of game can be found making the most of the lush grasses and flowers that cover the usually dry riverbeds. Photographers can make use of the excellent light conditions to capture the land's vibrant colours from behind their lens.

‘Pulu’ is the Setswana word for rain, and this influences much of the locals’ way of life and is vital to Botswana’s communities, they depend on this to grow their crops and for the animals and people to survive.

Botswana climate guide

Okavango Deltatemperature32°C31°C31°C30°C28°C25°C25°C28°C32°C35°C33°C32°C
Nxai Pan National Parktemperature31°C31°C30°C29°C27°C24°C24°C27°C31°C33°C32°C31°C

Things to do in Botswana

The Kalahari Desert in Bloom

With the arrival of the rains from December – March the Kalahari Desert bursts into bloom. Dormant seeds in the desert soil sprout, leading to the blossoming of a wide variety of desert-adapted plants and wildflowers. This includes the bright yellow devil's thorn, pink and white star flowers, and the vibrant purple Namibian eye. The increase in vegetation naturally attracts more wildlife and during the Kalahari Desert bloom you can expect to see springbok and oryx grazing on the grasses and flowering plants. The bloom also attracts several bird species including waterfowl and migratory birds.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls can be seen spectacularly from the northern Botswana town of Kasane, especially from February to August, with peak magnificence around May. Kasane, located on the Chobe River, provides an excellent vantage point for this natural wonder. Visitors can take exhilarating helicopter flights that offer panoramic views of the falls in all their glory. Alternatively, local experts lead guided tours that provide more intimate and informative experiences. These options cater to a wide range of preferences, ensuring a unique and memorable experience with the breath-taking Victoria Falls.

Wildlife Opportunities

If you want to see big cats and wild dogs, travel in the drier months when there is less vegetation for the animals to hide and avoid November to March when there are heavy showers. If you want to see the Zebra Migration, travel to Botswana's salt pans between March and April, for the second largest, yet least known of the great mammal migrations. If you want to see meerkats, travel to the Makgadikgadi Pans between July and September when the migratory herds have left. Read our Botswana wildlife guide for more information on what animals you can observe.

Okavango Delta Mokoro trip

The traditional Mokoro boat ride offers a silent and timeless journey through Botswana's Okavango Delta. As dawn breaks, visitors, led by local custodians, glide effortlessly through labyrinthine channels, immersing themselves in the untamed beauty of this untouched sanctuary. The Mokoro becomes a vessel for exploration, navigating hidden corridors teeming with life. The landscape, a living tapestry of swaying papyrus reeds and water lilies, transforms with each stroke of the canoe paddle, revealing a new chapter in the Delta's story.