Is an African safari worth it? We’re definitely a little biased—okay, we’re a lot biased. We run a safari in Botswana, so of course, we think it’s the best vacation idea ever! But we know that we don’t speak for everyone. So, we’ll try to break down what it’s like to go on an African safari and then let you decide if an African safari is worth it for you.
Safaris Are Expensive: What Do You Get for the Price?
Dollar for dollar, African safaris are probably one of the most expensive vacations you’ll ever have the pleasure of going on. In many cases, a high-quality African safari can cost as much as a car ($5,000 to $50,000 USD). So, is it worth the price? What do you get for the cost of an African safari?
Most African safaris are all-inclusive. This means that the nightly price for your lodge/camp covers everything else while on safari, including food, game drives, and most of the time, alcoholic drinks. The good news is that an African safari isn’t Disney World. Once you pay for your hotel, you don’t also have to pay for park entrance fees, meals, and more. So, you can more easily budget your safari upfront and know what you’re getting yourself into. At Brave Africa, your all-inclusive safari cost includes:
- All meals, snacks, and in-house beverages (including local beers and wines)
- All-day game drives
- Additional safari activities, including mokoro, village visits, walking safaris, etc.
- Daily laundry services
- Road transfers between locations/camps while with Brave Africa
- $50 or $35 nonprofit donation per guest
Along with the high cost of an African safari, you can expect exclusivity. Safaris are off the beaten path. You won’t be in the middle of thousands of tourists at the Eiffel Tower or pushing your way through crowds at Hobbiton in New Zealand.
A safari is a different experience that is really about you, the animals, and nature. The value of an exclusive African safari experience cannot be overstated. It’s a chance to truly get away from it all: turn off the cell phone, disconnect from WiFi, say goodbye to people, and get in touch with Mother Nature. The key is choosing an African safari experience that focuses on exclusivity.
In March 2020, Brave Africa went out on safari with just a single guest—for a highly private and personalized experience.
Ask about how many people the safari operator puts in each vehicle. Budget operators will stuff ten people or more in a vehicle, which means your dream safari could wind up with you in the middle seat—very uncomfortable and disappointed. Some camps might also pack in the tourists to make more money. If you’re going on safari for exclusivity, ask about the size of the camp.
Note: Botswana’s safari tourism model is fewer tourists and better experiences. At Brave Africa, our vehicles max out at six guests (two per row) and six tents (12 guests total at camp and two safari vehicles).
You Can See Animals in a Zoo: What Makes a Safari Better?
Beyond price, the next question many guests have about whether an African safari is worth it has to do with the experience. You can see wild animals in a zoo, what’s so great about an African safari? How much better is the experience, especially when animals are not guaranteed. Let us start by saying the experiences are NOT comparable at all.
An African safari is an adventure. It’s your chance to see animals in their natural habitat. This makes all the difference. Animals on a safari are engaging. They eat, walk, play, fight, chase, run, and interact in a thousand different ways. This means that you can see the same type of animals every single day and every time it’s a new experience. Natural animal behavior makes a huge difference.
And then there’s the variety of wildlife. Yes, a zoo has all types of animals from all over the world, but the difference of an African safari is that the animals are all together. You can sit in your safari vehicle and watch elephants right alongside hippos, impala, zebra, and wildebeest. And in the next second, you can run across lions or wild dogs.
You never know what type of wildlife you’ll see on your African safari, but every day, every hour, it will be something new. Just make sure you choose an exceptional location for your African safari where wildlife is plentiful. Not all destinations are created equal.
For example, Botswana has almost double the elephants of ANY other country in Africa—over 130,000—along with 163 other species of mammals, including the usual suspects: lions, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, rhino, etc. The country is also home to more than 550 species of birds, including many rare and endangered species you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. And if you’re worried about going on a family safari with kids? Don’t be.
Beyond the wildlife, an African safari is about pristine and stunning landscapes. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy Mother Nature’s most impressive theater on a breathtaking scale. It’s about exploring vast swaths of wilderness where everything is raw, rugged, and stunning. Africa boasts a vibrant ecosystem with everything from dusty red deserts to lush swamplands, sweeping floodplains, expansive savannas, and vibrant forests. You’ll drive through rivers, explore lagoons, have lunch at elephant watering holes, hike rocky outcrops, and more.
Brave Africa’s vehicles can handle almost any terrain, including water.
The landscapes on an African safari will enchant you as much as the wildlife. And the best part is that you’ll get to enjoy these gorgeous landscapes without worrying about crowds—if you go to the right safari locations. Regardless of where you choose to go on your African safari, we can almost guarantee you’ll be talking about the beauty of nature for years to come.
What You Need to Know About Going on Safari Before You Book
If you want an African safari to change your life or be “the best trip you’ve ever taken,” not just any safari will do. You have to be VERY careful with what you book, otherwise it won’t be worth the hype.
For example, when two of our co-founders went on their first safari in South Africa, they had a small budget and had to choose a location and camp based on what they could afford. And while the experience sparked their love for safari, it wasn’t until they returned and went on safari in Botswana with a larger budget and more research that they had the trip of a lifetime.
Saying you want to go on an African safari is like saying you want to go on a hike. It can mean a thousand different things depending on what you want, where you go, and who is in charge of your safari.
So, if you want to make sure your African safari is worth it, pay attention to these five safari tips.
Choose the Right Location (Country and Region)
Forget about the name. You might have heard about Kruger and the Serengeti the most because they are well-known safari locations, but that doesn’t automatically make them the best. Most of the time, it’s the lesser-known parks and locations that offer a better experience with fewer crowds and more wildlife.
After all, animals don’t like to be around people so popular is not always better. For example, Botswana’s Okavango Delta might be a lesser-known safari location, but the experience is far superior to the crowded national parks in South Africa. In Botswana, you’re more likely to have untouched wilderness and wildlife that are not used to cars. It’s not a zoo experience at all. You’ll go off-road and hunt for the animals in order to get that once in a lifetime picture.
It’s crucial that you do your research about all the different safari areas in Africa and then choose the destination that best fits your needs and wants. And don’t forget to choose the right timing for your safari! Not all months are the same.
Pick the Best Safari Lodge or Camp for You
Your African safari experience will vary greatly depending on the camp, lodge, or self-drive experience you choose for your trip. Do you have a tight budget that will limit where you stay or are you willing and able to splurge for some luxury experiences? The bargain safari mindset isn’t the best.
The truth of the matter is that an African safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people, and so planning to do it right is essential. If you want a picture-perfect African safari that exceeds all of your expectations, you need to choose a safari lodge or safari camp that fits what you want.
There are a few things to consider.
- What luxury amenities are essential to your happiness? Do you need flushing toilets? Is WiFi a must? Are you willing to sleep on a cot, or do you want mattresses? Are you comfortable in a luxury tent, or do you need a lodge? Do you need daily laundry services?
- What features does your safari vehicle offer? Beyond the camp, you’ll be spending most of your time inside your game drive vehicle. How nice are their vehicles? Are they new? Do they have charging options, refrigeration, windows, open-air, etc.?
- How good are the staff? Unlike a big chain hotel, the staff on an African safari play a huge role in your experience. You’ll interact with the staff regularly, especially the guide and camp manager, so you want to choose a safari camp where the staff receive good reviews and are focused on customer service.
- How important is the food? Not all African safari operators have a permanent chef on staff to create inspired meals that you’ll love.
Brave Africa is an all-inclusive and exclusive mobile lodge focused on providing quality experiences.
- Do you want to change operators between locations or stick with the same operator, guide, staff, the entire time? A mobile lodge, like Brave Africa, offers a consistent experience for guests even while changing safari locations. A traditional lodge requires you to pay for transportation—usually via plane—to get to each new destination.
- Is caring for the environment important to you? There are many environmentally-friendly operators who use solar power, reduce their plastic use, and give back to conservation efforts.
- What is their game drive experience like? We’ll discuss this more in a little bit, just remember the entire point of an African safari is to see the animals and get out on game drives. Don’t focus so much on the luxury of your tent that you neglect the most important element: their focus on wildlife viewing.
Get to know Brave Africa’s camp experience here.
Ask About the Quality of Your Guides: It Is Essential
Tabona Wina is Brave Africa’s co-founder and head guide with over a decade of experience in the bush.
A safari guide is essential to a great experience. You might think that you can get away with a lower budget by self-driving, but we can almost guarantee that the money savings won’t be worth it. A safari guide is an expert tour guide by 1,000! Their knowledge and passion for the animals and nature will be what makes or breaks your experience.
They are responsible for:
- Finding the animals,
- Telling you about what you’re seeing (it’s the difference between watching a National Geographic special with the voiceover or completely silent),
- Getting you to the remote locations,
- Keeping you safe,
- And more.
You’ll spend nine to twelve hours a day with your safari guide. They will end up being one of your best friends on your trip and will 100% make your African safari worth it. Without a great safari guide, you might as well head to your local zoo and walk around yourself.
Read more about the importance of safari guiding here.
Focus on Game Drives: That’s What You’ve Paid Big Money For!
The ENTIRE point of going on an African safari is to go on game drives. Only when you’re in the safari vehicle and driving away from camp in search of animals are you actually experiencing the value of your safari. People often forget that the purpose of a safari is to offer the BEST wildlife experiences and not just luxury camping.
For example, when the Points Guy went on his safari in Tanzania, he ended up VERY disappointed because while he paid top dollar for a luxury camp, the game drives failed to deliver. This ruined his entire trip and made his African safari not worth it.
Creature comforts are only one piece of your safari. If you unknowingly compromise your African safari experience by asking for WiFi and forgetting about game drives, you won’t be happy in the end. Think of game drives like going to a theme park.
For most of us, we wake up early, get to the park at open, spend the entire day at the park riding as many rides and enjoying as many experiences as possible, and then only leave the park as it closes. The goal is not to waste a second of our theme park ticket because it’s expensive, and we want the most bang for our buck.
On most traditional safaris, game drives only happen in the morning and evening for three to four hours each outing. This means that—in the middle of the day for four to five hours—you’re sent back to the hotel to wait. The theme park (wilderness) isn’t closed at this time; you just don’t get to enjoy it.
This reason is why we created Brave Africa. When our co-founders went on their first safari, they were disappointed by how much time was spent at camp and how little time was spent out with the animals. So, at Brave Africa, we do ALL-DAY game drives. This means, from sunrise until sunset, you are out on safari to see the animals.
We maximize your chances to see something incredible and experience all that Botswana has to offer. After all, we believe if you’re worried about how much money it costs to go on safari, your money should at least go toward what you care about most: the animals.
Spend Enough Time on Safari
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you plan enough time for your African safari if you want it to be worth it. If you can only spend three to four days on safari, it’s probably not worth the travel and cost. While even a day is amazing on safari, it’s the extended time out in the bush that makes the biggest difference.
Since every single day and hour is unique on an African safari, the more time you have to explore and see what the wildlife has to offer, the better. Three days is barely enough time to get a taste of what an African safari is truly like. Instead, we recommend planning at least seven days and six nights on safari. This will give you enough time to truly immerse yourself in Mother Nature.
If you love animals and adventure, then you need to give yourself the time required to experience it. Remember, National Geographic documentaries are filmed over months. Their photographers spend weeks at a time in the bush to get that once-in-a-lifetime shot. You can’t expect to go out in a few days and see it all.
Check out our 10-day safari adventure if you want to maximize your experience.
Final Thoughts: Is an African Safari Worth It?
Is an African safari worth it? Where else will you see mating lions? Certainly not in a zoo.
At the end of the day, it’s really up to you. Only you can decide if the experience is something you will enjoy. Just make sure you do your research before you plan your trip. Since an African safari is not cheap, you do not want to make the wrong decisions and end up regretting it.
Feel free to reach out to us or an experienced travel agent to get all your questions answered. The only way an African safari is not worth it is if you book the wrong trip for your expectations.
If you’re anything like us, you’re already bored of being stuck in quarantine. Although, in Botswana, our stay-at-home orders are fairly recent—extreme social distancing began on April 2, 2020, at midnight—our team members in Colorado have been on lockdown much longer (almost three weeks now).
And since it seems like we’ll be here at least until the end of April, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some of the ways we’re staying entertained during COVID-19. We recently shared a blog about much of Brave Africa’s fun online safari content during this time, but we’re not the only ones stepping up our online game.
There are many safari lodges, travel agencies, photographers, and other content creators that are going above and beyond with their great safari content right now.
Here are eight of our favorites from:
- Hills of Africa Travel
- Wilderness Safaris
- Africa Adventure Consultants
- Savanna Lodge
- Wild Eye
- Brave Africa
1. WILDwatch LIVE
Every day, &Beyond is bringing Africa’s animals and stunning landscapes directly to your couch through WILDwatch LIVE. Twice daily, on YouTube and Facebook, you can tune in for a three-hour game drive in Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The game drives are streamed (in real-time), so viewers have the opportunity to experience exactly what a safari is like. You’ll witness a spectacular diversity of wildlife and landscapes while also gaining valuable insight from professional guides.
WILDwatch LIVE is a fabulous way to satisfy some of your wanderlust. Tune in daily:
- 6:00 am – 9:00 am CAT
- 15:30 pm – 18:30 pm CAT
2. Singita Virtual Game Drives
Singita is also live-streaming virtual game drives every day. You can tune in on Instagram and Facebook for a live glimpse of what’s going on in the bush.
The difference here is that the videos they offer are short and take you directly to their best sightings. You don’t have to watch for minutes or even hours to witness the best of the best. Instead, you can scroll through dozens of videos with clips of lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, and more.
3. Hills of Africa Travel – Daily Safari Puzzles
Every day, Hills of Africa Travel shares a new safari puzzle on their Facebook page. We originally got the idea for our own #WednesdayPuzzle from them, but they take it to the next level.
Every day, they share a new, awesome puzzle of the unique, adorable, and stunning animals you can find throughout Africa. There have been puzzles of springbok, bushbuck, baboons, vulture, penguins, elephants, and many more.
Each puzzle is a great five to ten-minute distraction while you’re stuck at home with nowhere to go. We think it’s great safari content.
Wilderness Safaris is offering wilderness lovers a unique way to remember Africa by sharing their favorite wilderness poetry. On their blog, you can find incredible poems written by their guests and staff that will inspire you to fall in love with nature all over again. They’re also asking readers to share their own poems using the hashtags #IDreamOfAfrica, #WildernessPoetry, and #WeAreWilderness.
Beyond poetry, Wilderness Safaris is also lining up a bunch of riveting stories about the African bush. Stay tuned to their social media to see what they’re up to.
The Africa Adventure Consultants are taking their Facebook followers on an #ArmChairAfrica safari every day with great content. Not only are they sharing amazing photos and videos from safari, but they’re going further with other ideas to keep you entertained.
For example, they’re offering great safari content, such as:
- Book recommendations
- Interviews with experts
- Fun activities (learn to draw a gorilla)
- And more.
6. Savanna Stay@Home Safari
The Savanna Lodge, located within the Sabi Sand Reserve in South Africa, is sharing daily videos of their Savanna Stay@Home Safari. Already, there are 12 episodes that viewers can enjoy, covering everything from lion sightings to cheetahs, buffalo, elephants, leopards, and more.
Each episode is between 10 and 20 minutes in length and is led by an expert safari guide. The videos are shared on YouTube and provide viewers with an incredible safari experience from the comfort of their phone or computer.
7. The Wildlife Photography Podcast
If you’re looking for something to listen to while you work, take care of the kids, or just relax on the couch, the Wildlife Photography Podcast is a great choice! Hosted by Gerry van der Walt, it provides all sorts of great information, insight, and stories about going on safari in Africa and wildlife photography.
You can find discussions, interviews, Q&As, and more. All told by Gerry, a specialist photographic safari guide, educator, public speaker, and co-founder of Wild Eye. We especially enjoyed the short 11-minute episode about tracking a lion on foot.
He’s posting regularly during the coronavirus pandemic, so tune in!
8. Brave Africa Safari Content
On Brave Africa, we’re trying to share a lot of fun, interesting, and engaging content, during COVID-19. We’ve got a little bit of everything, including short #virtualsafaris that take you into the bush for a little bit. We also are sharing:
- Downloadable coloring pages for kids. Find them all here.
- #PuzzleWednesday with animal puzzles to put together online. Find them here.
- Pinterest pins on all things Brave Africa, safari, and Botswana.
- Regularly updated blog with news, stories, images, and videos.
When planning your Botswana safari, should you choose a mobile safari or a safari lodge? What’s the difference and which one is best? Of course, we are biased toward a Brave Africa luxury safari, but we know it is important to shop around. So, we are here to help you out.
Both a mobile safari and safari lodge offer amazing experiences that you’ll remember forever. The difference is in the type of experience you’ll have. They’re not as different as you think, but there are some key things you should be aware of before you make the right decision for you and your family.
To get started, we’ll break down the key differences between a Botswana mobile safari and a safari lodge and then leave the decision up to you. (more…)
One of the first questions we get whenever we talk to someone new to safaris is, “Is an African safari safe?” We immediately assure them that it’s very safe, but we know that the word of safari enthusiasts may not be as reassuring as you would like.
So, to help you determine for yourself if an African safari is safe, we’re going to delve into the main arguments we hear over and over again. (more…)
Before you go on a safari in Botswana, you have to do your research. Safaris are not cheap, and the last thing you want to do is try to save money and end up with a sub-par experience and a safari camp or lodge that’s far below your expectations.
The problem is that there’s both too much and too little information out there. We’ve been where you are and have spent countless hours (days!) online trying to figure out what it’s like to go on an African safari.
And trying to figure out where to stay? Forget it!
You might as well just close your eyes and pick an African safari lodge or camp at random. After all, they can’t be that different than each other. But that’s where you’re wrong.
Every Safari Accommodation is Different
While both safari lodges and safari camps offer incredible experiences and can share many of the same features, there are some major differences and similarities you need to be aware of before you make your choice. (And don’t forget to check out our similar blog about safari vehicles.)
Our goal is not to sway you toward any specific safari accommodation over another, but to provide you with an in-depth overview of your options so that you can make the best choice for you.
First, a warning…pictures are not always accurate. Some safari camps and lodges are known for photoshopping their images or putting pictures online that don’t match their typical product, but instead require hundreds or thousands of dollars in upgrades. Don’t trust what you see. Instead, be sure to do your own research and ask questions. Look for customer pictures on TripAdvisor or Google Business, or work with a travel agent who has visited the camp and can confirm that what you see is what you get.
Botswana Safari Accommodation Features
Now, before we jump into the different types of accommodations, let’s talk about a few key features of your safari vacation.
- Bedroom: Your sleeping situation can drastically change depending on your camp. Be sure to ask if you have a normal mattress bed or cots, and if the bed can be set up as a king or just two twins. Also, the size of your tent can be anything from a small dome you can’t stand inside to an extensive lodge suite and everything in between.
- Bathroom: Not every safari camp includes an attached toilet and bath/shower. Most safari lodges will have a flushing toilet and shower, but bucket showers are still common even in luxury lodges. For mobile camps, drop toilets are typical and showers may be communal.
This is our custom-built shower add-on to every tent. It provides an additional 1.5 meters of space for our guests to enjoy and ensures your tent isn’t soaked during your shower.
- Shared Areas: Think of shared areas as similar to a hotel lobby or the living and dining room in your home. Every safari camp will have a campfire where you’ll hang out regularly. However, the type and size of your dining area can vary greatly, so can any sitting areas, the bar, and more. Some lodges may also have a pool.
- Power Outlet: At most safari lodges and camps, all power outlets are found in the shared areas. Your room will not have the ability to charge technology. Any charging you want to do in your room will require travel batteries and some camps may only offer charging via a car battery.
- Internet Access: Very few, if any, Botswana safari camps offer access to the internet. The goal of a safari is to unplug, so do not expect internet or mobile to work while on safari. Instead, use your safari as an opportunity to forget that the rest of the world exists. (We do have a satellite phone available for emergencies.)
- Food: Most lodges and camps have a chef, but the type of food they serve can very. For many mobile safari camps, cooking is done over an open fire, which can drastically limit the menu. However, some mobile camps, including Brave Africa, have an entire outdoor kitchen with a full stove and oven, which means the chef can cook the same types of meals you’d find in any hotel or restaurant.
Safari Lodge vs. Safari Camp
Now, let’s look at the more specific differences between safari lodges and safari camps to help you make your final choice of accommodation. When going on safari in Botswana, you typically have three choices:
- A luxury safari lodge,
- A mobile safari camp
- A self-drive safari camp
Botswana Safari Lodge
A Botswana safari lodge is more like a luxury safari hotel. It’s a structure that remains in one location that you, as a safari guest, travel to and stay at. Typically, safari lodges will have communal areas that act like hotel lounges. There’s probably a dining hall, a reception, and a pool. Safari lodges are often built with wood, though rooms can still be canvas tents, but they offer more of a hotel-like feel. Expect:
- Suite-type rooms with comfortable beds and lots of space
- Luxury bathrooms with running water
- Large communal areas for dining and relaxing, including a pool
- Technology charging in the main communal area
- No internet access except at the more premium lodges
- Premium, chef-designed meals
All Botswana safari lodges are 100% focused on a luxury experience. They are beautifully crafted locations that are dedicated to your comfort. Guests can expect many similar features to a luxury hotel room.
Mobile Safari Camps
The second type of safari accommodation you’ll find in Botswana are the mobile safari camps. These can vary depending on how much you’re willing to pay and the type of experience you want. There are five types of mobile safari camps you can expect: budget, standard, premium, luxury, and ultra-luxury.
It’s important to note that the naming conventions we used above are NOT standard for the industry. Many standard camps use the phrase “luxury” to sell rooms. Before you take any naming at face value, ask about the type of experience you’re going to enjoy.
Budget Mobile Camping
With extreme budget mobile camping, your operator will provide tents, meals, and basic amenities, but the rest will be up to you. You may be expected to build your own very small dome tent or to participate in cooking. As for your sleeping and bathing arrangements, sleeping bags or cots are typical and toilets/showers might be shared.
Standard Mobile Camping
With standard mobile camping, the experience is a little more all-inclusive. You’ll still have small dome tents with limited amenities. However, the company will take care of setting up and tearing down your tent and all of the cooking. Think of this as camping with a team that takes care of the basic details. Bathing arrangements may still be shared between camp guests, though you should have your own drop toilet near your tent.
Premium Mobile Camping
Premium mobile camping will get you bigger tents with a little more room to move around. With these safari camps, you’ll have your own private toilet (drop) and bucket shower, typically connected to your tent. You still might sleep on cots, but all of your amenities are a little more premium, including your food—it will be cooked over a fire by a chef. You should also have a small dining tent that can be used as a shared communal area.
Luxury Mobile Camping
Luxury mobile camping upgrades all of your features. Your tent should be large enough for a King bed setup with extra room to move. The toilet and bathing amenities should be top-notch. You may have a flushing or a drop toilet, but the entire experience should feel much more luxurious—these experiences are often referred to as “glamping.” Meals may still be cooked over a fire, but should also include higher-quality ingredients and more variety. Communal areas tend to be on the small side, but they are comfortable though mainly used for dining.
Ultra–Luxury Mobile Camping
There are very few ultra-luxury mobile camps; Brave Africa is one. These are lodge-like camps where you shouldn’t feel as if you’re camping at all. Toilets are flushing, and tents are very spacious with comfortable mattresses, storage space, luxury amenities, and private on-demand bathing. As for the communal areas, they are much more expansive and include a seating area, room for dining, and a bar set up where guests can hang out at any time. Food should be cooked in a mobile kitchen with a full oven and stove, not over a fire, and premium alcoholic beverages are available.
Brave Africa flushing toilet
Lastly, there are self-drive camps. This is camping at its most basic. You’ll have your own car, which comes with basic camping amenities. You are in charge of everything, including all supplies. You’ll be limited to campgrounds that are open to self-drive tourists and have to share communal bathing and toilets with all other self-drive guests.
Brave Africa’s Ultra-Luxury Mobile Safari Camp vs. a Safari Lodge
|Standard Mobile Camp
|Typical Safari Lodge
|Brave Africa Camp
|Cots (twin beds)
|Typical mattress bed (king or twin)
|Typical mattress bed (king or twin)
|Very small, little room to move
|Comfortable hotel-room size
|Bucket shower (potentially communal)
|Standard hotel shower with running water
|Private bucket shower
|Captains’ chairs only
|Comfortable couches and chairs for relaxing
|Comfortable couches and chairs for relaxing
|Small tent for dining or around an open fire
|Large dining room
|Large dining room
|Shared power in the main area, may be limited to a car battery
|Shared power in the main area typically solar-powered
|Shared power in the main area typically solar-powered
|No internet access
|No internet access in the most premium camps
|No internet access
|Cooked over an open fire
|Chef-created in a full kitchen
|Chef-created in a full kitchen
When should you visit Botswana? Are there better times to go on safari? Is there any time you shouldn’t visit?
These are questions we hear all the time, so today, we’re going to break down Botswana’s weather by the month and what that means for you on safari. However, before we get into it, let’s talk about the best time to go on safari in Botswana.
Best Time to go on Safari in Botswana
The best months to safari in Botswana depend on what you want to see, experience, and do. Every month offers something different for visitors, and it’s never really a wrong time to go. Botswana is a year-round destination with 300 days of sunshine and abundant wildlife throughout the year.
However, the weather does change throughout the year with seasons of more substantial rainfall that can impact your game-viewing expectations. So let’s talk about when you should visit Botswana based on your expectations.
High Season: Best Time to See the Animals
This is the time of year to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime animal sightings.
High Season goes from July to October. These four months are considered the best time to visit Botswana if you want to see the animals. Because it’s the dry season, there’s far less vegetation, which means animals have nowhere to hide, making them easier to spot. Also, the limited water means that you can head to concentrations of permanent water, and the animals will mostly come to you. This is also an excellent time for clear skies, no rain, and fewer bugs.
However, it is essential to note that Botswana High Season is also the busy season. You’ll encounter the most tourists during this time, so you may feel a little more crowded during these best months to safari in Botswana. And you’ll need to book early! Many people book up to a year in advance to find a slot during these perfect months.
Shoulder Season: Fewer Crowds & Green Scenery
Beautiful greenery makes the Shoulder-Season a stunning time to visit while still offering amazing wildlife.
If you’re wondering when to visit Botswana when there are fewer people and great weather, Shoulder-Season is fantastic. Made up of four months—November, April, May, and June—this time of year offers great weather, fantastic wildlife viewings, and more affordable pricing. The scenery is relatively green in April and May, which can be excellent for pictures. However, thicker vegetation can mean a harder time seeing the animals.
Rain may also fall in November and April, but you shouldn’t encounter a lot—just a few short thunderstorms. However, the high concentration of water leftover from the wet season may make it hard to get to some areas still, but for the most part, driving conditions are reasonably good. Weather is pretty amazing during the Botswana Shoulder Season, but you could still have some frigid nights, so warm clothes are a must.
Off-Season: Rainy Weather but Low Rates and Lots of Newborns
Off-Season is a great time for bird watching. Birds migrate here by the millions during these months.
Off-Season goes from December to March. During these four months, you’re almost guaranteed to encounter rain during your game drives. While the greenery and vegetation are stunning, the abundance of water can make some things difficult. It’s humid and hot, so you could deal with a lot of mosquitoes. You may also have a hard time driving around due to flooding.
However, there are some wonderful things about the Botswana Off Season. These are some great months for bird watching, and in December, January, and February, it’s migration season. In the Kalahari desert (in the south), this is the time to witness the second largest migration in Africa, the zebra migration as well as the pink flamingo migration. In the Okavango Delta, this is the time for newborns, which can also mean high concentrations of predators.
Botswana Safari by the Month
Botswana is a year-round destination with 300 days of sunshine and abundant wildlife throughout the year. However, if you have limited vacation time and only have time off during a particular time of the year, here’s a simple breakdown of when to visit Botswana by the month.
January & February
January and February are the two wettest months of the year. This means that you have a very good chance of getting rained on while you’re out on game drives. However, it also means there’s beautiful thick, green vegetation. The scenery will be stunning this time of year. Flowers will be in bloom, trees will be packed with leaves, grass will be growing, and water will be everywhere. Unfortunately, this incredible scenery can hide wildlife because you can’t see as far. It’s also hot and humid. In spite of this, these months are incredible for bird watching, many migrations are in full swing, and many antelope give birth so predators can be abundant.
- Great time for bird watching.
- Beautiful scenery
- Many migrations are in full swing, including the Botswana zebra migration.
- Antelope birthing seasons, so hunting predators will be in abundance.
- Highly affordable off-season prices.
- Lush greenery means that animals have more hiding places.
- Lots of rain could mean wet game drives.
- An abundance of water may make it difficult to get to many areas.
- Hot and humid weather may be uncomfortable for some.
March is when the rains begin to ease. You’re far less likely to be rained on in March, but all the water from January and February has built up, so water is absolutely everywhere. This will be the greenest season and a stunning time to visit Botswana if you want to see the country in full bloom. However, because the water has had so long to build up, getting around can be difficult. You’ll have to find a way to drive between water, and some areas may be inaccessible. But this does mean that you’ll find large concentrations of animals in the accessible dry areas. Unfortunately, this can also be prime mosquito season, so bug spray is a MUST!
- Because it’s so wet, large concentrations of animals will be found in dry areas.
- The greenest time of the year with lush plants and flowers.
- It’s birthing season for many animals, which could mean lots of happy predators.
- Highly affordable off-season prices.
- VERY thick greenery means that animals have more hiding places.
- Flooding may make it difficult to get to certain areas.
- This is a mosquito-heavy season because there’s so much water.
April & May
April and May are two amazing months to visit Botswana. Considered shoulder season, this is one of the best times to go on a Botswana safari because it’s more affordable, but the experience is still incredible. The days are warm, the nights are cold, and there’s little chance of rain, which makes it great weather. The landscape is still green because you’ll have just left the wet season, but the water will have already begun to subside. What this means is that you’ll find animals hovering around permanent water sources, and it is before peak season, so visitors are few and prices are more affordable. However, depending on flooding, some activities may be unavailable.
- Beautiful green scenery, but far less water so you can get around.
- Less busy time of the year with fewer tourists.
- Great weather: warm days and cold nights with very little chance of rain.
- Shoulder season pricing makes these two months more affordable.
- This is late fall/early winter so the weather might be a little cold for some people.
- There’s still thick vegetation during this time, so animals may be harder to find/see.
- It’s still mosquito season, and some water-based activities may be unavailable.
June & July
June and July are two months with flawless blue winter skies! High season begins during this time, so available and prices are at a premium. You’ll need to book six to twelve months in advance if you want to ensure your slot with Brave Africa. These are two of the best months to safari in Botswana because the weather isn’t too hot during the day, there’s little to no chance of rain, and as long as you don’t mind cold nights, it’s gorgeous. There are very few mosquitos, and game viewing is exceptional at this time.
- Great weather with mild daytime temperatures, no rain, and cold nights.
- Incredible wildlife viewing with animals concentrated around water.
- Sparse foliage means that you have the best chance of finding animals
- Less water means very few mosquitoes and open access to almost any area.
- Less greenery because the dry season has started.
- Cold nighttime temps sometimes below freezing.
- Parks can begin to get crowded with tourists.
- High season means premium prices and limited availability.
August, September & October
August, September, and October are peak season in Botswana. These three months offer the highest concentration of game! And thinned out vegetation means that the animals will have a difficult time hiding and you can off-road as needed to gain the best viewings. It’s the greatest of the year to see herds of antelope, elephants, and buffalo, especially around watering holes. And this means that predators are in abundance. However, it’s important to note that these three best months to safari in Botswana are hot and dry, which can be uncomfortable. Expect stifling days and sultry nights with lots and lots of sunshine.
If you can handle the heat, this is your chance to see once-in-a-lifetime sightings.
- Great weather with brilliant blue skies and no rain or humidity.
- The best wildlife viewing with game concentrated around water.
- Very sparse foliage means animals can’t hide.
- Nowhere should be out-of-bounds, and all activities are available.
- Very sparse greenery, so not quite as beautiful scenery.
- Hot weather during the day and very dry.
- Parks will be at their highest capacity with tourists.
- High season means premium prices and limited availability.
November and December welcome the first rains of the wet season. The weather begins to cool this time of year as the rains start to fall. Some areas will be inaccessible because of mud and heavy rain, but flooding won’t be in abundance, so you should still have lots of chances to get around. This time of year is excellent for newly-born calves and cubs as well as migrant birds and some budding, green scenery.
- Lots of newly-born calves and cubs.
- The migration season for Zebras and birds (in the millions) begins.
- Start of the green season, which can mean beautiful foliage.
- Shoulder and Off-Season pricing makes these two months more affordable
- Hot and humid weather can make game drives uncomfortable.
- There’s a good chance you can be rained on at the start of the wet season.
- Mud and heavy rains may make some areas inaccessible.
When Should You Visit Botswana?
So, when should you visit Botswana? There’s no bad month! If you can go on safari more than once, we recommend coming back during different times of the year so that you can experience Botswana in all of its glory. However, if you only have one chance, we recommend visiting between May and October. These are the peak months and will give you the best chance of once-in-a-lifetime encounters.