When to go and what to do on your African Safari

One dream of mine is to go on an African Safari so I’ve been talking to Michael over at Africa dream safaris.com about planning it. Here’s what he said about timing:

We recommend plannig safaris 3 to 18 months in advance depending upon the proposed month of travel. For example, the busiest times are around the holiday period (late December to early January) and summertime (June to September) and during these months we recommend to plan at least 12 months in advance. However, it’s very ironic that these busy times have nothing to do with the best times for wildlife viewing. The highest concentration of animals in the Serengeti are always during the end of the green season (March, April and May), which is actually slow season in Tanzania. During these months only 3 – 6 months in advance is really needed to plan an optimal safari.

Here’s one possible safari vacation plan:

Day 1: Kilimanjaro

Day 2: Central Sernegeti, including Seronera valley. There are a number of lodges here and during July, August and December careful planning is important because of the ‘crowds’.

Day 3: Eastern Serengeti. During the wet season (November through May – also called the green season) a day trip (or more) is highly recommended for every Safari itinerary. This area is the best place to see cheetahs and hyenas as they follow the Thomson’s Gazelle migration.

Day 4: A different Central Serengeti experience

Day 5: Southern Serengeti. This is where the famous wildebeest migration can be seen (December to May) and the accompanying predators: lions, cheetahs, and hyenas.

Day 6: A different Eastern Serengeti experience.

Day 7: A different Southern Serengeti experience.

Days 8 and 9: Ngorongoro Crater. This world heritage site is home to black rhino, elephant, hippo, buffalo, eland, zebra, hartebeest, wildebeest, waterbuck, warthog, Grant’s gazelle and Thomson’s gazelle, baboons and vervet monkeys, lion, cheetah, hyena, and jackal. Leopards, servals, bat eared foxes and ratels also reside in the Crater but are elusive.

Day 10: Lake Manyara. Famous for tree-climbing lions, you are actually more likely to see lions in trees in the Serengeti. Come here for the baboons and the jungle (very different from the rest of your safari).

Here’s more information on African safari planning in April, and this is a neat little safari planner where you put in when you want to go and what you want to do and they give you a possible itinerary. Then you’ll want to talk the experts I’m talking to. They are friendly and they know their safaris.

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  1. IA says:

    Looking for most cost effective trip to Capetown and safari, all within a two week period eff. Sep. 7th 2006 from Chicago, IL

    Thank you

  2. Donna says:

    I have been on 3 African safaris: Summer is good for East African (Kenya & Tanzania) as dry season is good for the migration and grasses are low so you can see the animals. Also went gorilla trekking in Uganda in the summer. Second trip was to Botswana, the Kalahari and Zimbabwe also in the summer and a great time to be there. Third trip was in December to Malawi and Zambia, which is at the end of their safari season as the rains begin in January. Each trip was magnificent. Don’t forget South Africa, too. Although I didn’t go on safari there, Capetown is so worth a visit at any time of year.

  3. Lin says:

    To IA: It’s not so cost effective to visit Cape Town and do a safari from chicago. You have the additional flight round trip from Cape Town to Jo’burg, which also eats up time you could be spending in the bush. Could you do without Cape Town? If so, you can fly in to Johannesburg from either D.C., New York, or Atlanta, do a safari in Botswana and end up in Victoria Falls for some R&R and shopping. Or do a safari in/around the Kruger N.P. – there are charter flights from Jo’burg. You will need to decide whether you want to get the most out of your 2 weeks, or whether you really need to save money and therefore must rent a car instead of flying (it’s possible to drive from Jo’burg to Kruger but it’s a very long drive). There is an excellent travel agent based in Chicago called Eyes on Africa http://www.eyesonafrica.net, whom I have used twice now. Good luck.

  4. Gary says:

    The migration seems to happening later and later in Kenya so be aware…

    I recorded some interviews last year, 2005 with people like Dr Richard Estes and have started a Safari Cast no less at http://spaces.msn.com/safaricast

    look forward to meeting you guys at Governors Camp this season where I am one of the Balloon pilots.

    When I am not in East Africa I have a balloon ride company in South Africa.

    Gary

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