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When to go to Botswana

Ideal Time to Travel to Botswana

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. 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 fairly dry, bright days.

In contrast, the green season, which spans from November to April, offers its own unique charm. While the occasional afternoon rain shower restors the landscape, it's during this period that the lush, emerald vegetation emerges, attracting migratory birds and filling 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.

BOT St Botswana Pink Northern Carmine Bee Eater Shutterstock Ondrej Prosicky

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 onward, 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 elephants, lions 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.

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

There are excellent opportunities for viewing Victoria Falls from the town of Kasane in northern Botswana and the falls are stunning between February and August (with the waters reaching their highest around May). There are many ways to explore Victoria Falls, ranging from helicopter flights to more intimate tours from local guides.

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.