Best time to travel to East Africa
Any time is a good time to travel to East Africa, but what are the best seasons?
East Africa is full of amazing places to visit and is a unique experience any time of the year. However, there are rainy seasons and busy seasons to keep in mind when planning your trip. Your Africa tour guide will be there to educate you and make sure you have a great trip, no matter the weather or the crowds.
Read below to learn what to expect and the best times of the year to travel to East Africa.
April to May: The Rainy Season
April to May is the main rainy season in East Africa. April is known for the “long rains” when it may rain all day and all night. This means that by May, the rain is less constant, but the bush is already thick and well-watered. Fewer animals venture out in the rain and it is much easier for them to hide in the dense foliage.
Despite the downpour, the grassland is greener than ever this time of year. If you want to see beautiful, sprawling natural landscapes, you might want to visit near the end of the rainy season. Just make sure to pack some rain boots.
June to October: The Longest Dry Season
Winter in East Africa is from mid-June to October and is the busiest time of the year for animals, travelers, and tour companies. The weather stays dry and the vegetation is sparse, meaning there is nowhere to hide. The sun shines all day and while the days are hot, they aren’t unbearable, with an average of around 27°C (82°F).
There is less water available, so the animals congregate near the watering holes. If you stay near the water, you will likely see lions, giraffes, gazelle, elephants, and more. This is the best time of the year to go on a safari and see all your favorite animals.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the best places in East Africa to visit. From June to October, up to one million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelle migrate 3,0000 kilometers across the African Serengeti. This one-of-a-kind natural wonder has to be seen to be believed. Wild animals don’t follow a strict schedule, so the exact dates are never known. Contact your African tour guide for help choosing the best time to see this powerful migration.
The river crossings are the most spectacular and sought-after viewings. Grumeti River Crossings are from May to July while the Mara River Crossings are from July to September.
This is also the busiest time of year for an African Safari. We recommend booking early to get the best tour guides and plan ahead if you want to see the wildebeest in their vast numbers. Even with proper planning, you will still be rubbing elbows with plenty of other visitors who have traveled long distances to see the same thing. Despite the crowds, this experience is worth it and will be remembered for a lifetime.
Short Rainy Season
In mid-October, the short rains begin and remind the wildebeest to travel south. These rains aren’t as torrential as the ones in April but don’t expect to stay dry. By November, most herds have already left for the South and the rains continue.
December to February: Scattered Rains and a Calm Atmosphere
By December, the migration is fully over. Herds of gazelle, wildebeest, and zebras have settled down in the South Plains where they will remain for the next few months. Although, you won’t witness their migration, seeing the animals congregated in large groups on the southern plains is still an amazing sight. In February, the wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles give birth. You might be able to see some adorable baby animals if you go out on a safari this time.
This is the type of year with cheaper flights and fewer crowds. There are infrequent rains while the days remain warm (27 °C / 81 °F) with cooler nights. Hikers who want to miss the crowds usually choose this time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, the number one place in Africa for active travelers.
There are so many different places to visit in East Africa. Although a lot of travelers want to see the great migration, there is something spectacular to see and do in Africa any time of the year.