Admiring lions on a Botswana safari holiday

The best time to visit Botswana

When to go to Botswana? Well, the peak season in Botswana is from July to October – this is both the dry season and the time when the annual flood fills the Okavango Delta. These months are absolutely prime for wildlife viewing. However, this definitely doesn’t mean that these are the only months it’s worth visiting Botswana.

Bring on the floods!

The floods bring life to Botswana, and so does the rain. So how do you decide between visiting in the dry versus the green season? And could you cope with the October heat? And then there are wildlife events which might affect your decision of when to go to Botswana. Read on for more detail.

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Wildebeest in Kalahari grasslands, Botswana © SEeman,Shutterstock

Botswana's dry and green seasons

Should you travel in the green or the dry season?

Elephants in Okavango, Botswana © AGMarks

Dry season in Botswana: April to October

Rainfall more or less stops around the end of March and doesn’t return until November. The lush green landscape starts to dry out, grasses die back, and waterholes shrink forcing wildlife to head for more permanent water sources.

Importantly, the Okavango is fed by waters from Angola and the floodwaters arrive in about May/June and have passed through by about October – so this is high water time in the Delta (great for mokoro trips and attracting thousands of elephants and other animals).

June to August are the coolest months, but then the heat rises quickly in September, and October can be staggeringly hot.

All of this adds up to the dry season being generally viewed as the very best time to travel to Botswana for wildlife viewing.

Okavango Delta, Botswana © TEdwards

Green season in Botswana: November to March

When the rains start to arrive in mid-to-late November (mostly falling in January and February), the land, people and wildlife breathe a sigh of relief. The dust and stifling heat are dampened, grasses start to grow again and flowers bloom.

It’s a great time for newborn animals and birds, with migrant birds beginning to arrive from about late November. It is also the very best time for seeing wildlife in the Pans and the Kalahari Desert. It’s a fabulous time for photography, but travel can be a little more difficult so you might need a little patience on transfers and be prepared for wet feet!

Other good plus points are that green season is much cheaper than other times and there are fewer people around (though Botswana is never overrun).

Bi-monthly calendar

Which is the best month to travel on safari to Botswana? Below is a slightly more detailed summary of monthly climatic and natural events which might affect your decision of when to go.

Owl in Okavango Delta, Botswana © BBradley,Shutterstock

January - February

This is the peak of the green/wet season but it rarely rains every day. Days are warm (average about 30°c but can be up to 40°) and nights are around 20°c. Lush foliage and flowers, excellent birding, and frogs and butterflies love this time. Great for photography with beautiful colours and dramatic skies. The fresh green grasses in the Kalahari and salt pans attract wildlife so this is the best time for wildlife here.

Sundowner drinks with Nxai Pan Camp, Botswana © Kwando

March - April

Days are still hot and nights are warm, but the rain is starting to fizzle out now. The Kalahari and Pans are still good for wildlife in March, and it’s still a good birding time. Impalas are rutting, and the herds in the Pans head to the Boteti River area from about April. Nxai Pan waterholes are drying up. Nearby Victoria Falls is in full flood.

Springbok in Botswana © AGMarks

May - June

The floodwaters start to reach the Okavango Delta coming in at the Pandhandle. The temperatures begin to drop a little (still around 30° in May, but mid-20s by June). Migratory birds are starting to leave. By June, all but the largest waterholes have dried up so wildlife is heading to more permanent lagoons and rivers. Grasses and foliage is dying back. Wild dogs begin to den around June and are easier to find for the next 3-4 months.

Lion pride, Africa © TEdwards

July - August

This is Botswana’s winter. Nights, mornings and evenings are really cold (even down to zero degrees) but days are still pleasant in the early to mid-20s. Form now to October is peak wildlife viewing season. The floods have reached most of the Delta, and mokoro trips are more readily available. Thousands of breeding storks and herons congregate to nest in heronries.

Elephants by the Chobe River, Botswana © AGMarks

September - October

The heat quickly returns in September (mid-30°s day and around 15°c at night). Floodwaters begin to drop. Massive herds of elephants and buffalos are near northern rivers including Chobe and Linyanti. Predators take advantage of weakening animals. Carmine bee-eaters and a few other migratory birds begin to return. October is very hot (over 40°c) and tinder dry, and many animals struggle now.

Meandering channels in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © AGMarks

November - December

The first rains tend to come around mid to late November. Relief! Wildlife begins to disperse into the landscape from large water sources. Tsessabe, impala, red lechwe and other herds give birth and more migratory birds arrive. Life returns to the land. Zebras and wildebeest fill the salt pans which are flush with new grasses.

Botswana's Climate

Botswana’s climate is that of a subtropical desert associated with hotter days than nights and very little rain overall, plus it has two seasons: one dry, one green/rainy. In general, the coolest months are July and August, and the hottest month is October. Most rain tends to fall in January and February, with very-little-to-none from June to October.

Waterlilly in the Okavango Delta, Botswana © HSavege

Temperature and rainfall in Okavango & the north

Text to come

Degrees in Celsius
  • 33 J
  • 33 F
  • 32 M
  • 31 A
  • 29 M
  • 27 J
  • 26 J
  • 30 A
  • 34 S
  • 36 O
  • 35 N
  • 33 D
Rainfall in mm
  • 45 J
  • 43 F
  • 20 M
  • 5 A
  • 0 M
  • 0 J
  • 0 J
  • 0 A
  • 1 S
  • 1 O
  • 14 N
  • 35 D
Oryx in the Kalahari, Botswana © DGuertin,Shutterstock

Temperature and rainfall in the Kalahari

Text to come

Degrees in Celsius
  • 0 J
  • 8 F
  • 16 M
  • 22 A
  • 29 M
  • 42 J
  • 34 J
  • 25 A
  • 12 S
  • 2 O
  • -2 N
  • -5 D
Rainfall in mm
  • 2 J
  • 6 F
  • 14 M
  • 18 A
  • 40 M
  • 40 J
  • 22 J
  • 16 A
  • 16 S
  • 5 O
  • 4 N
  • 0 D

When to see Botswana's wildlife

A wildlife enthusiast’s quick guide to when and where to see some of Botswana’s key species.

Elephants playing in the water, Botswana © AGMarks

Elephants

It’s unlikely that you won’t see elephants as Botswana has Africa’s largest population. To see huge herds, visit the north (Chobe, Linyanti, Kwando, Selinda) in September and October.

Wild dog in Botswana © AGMarks

Wild dogs

You can see wild dogs all year but most den around June and stay near the den until about September when the pups are bigger, so these months give you a better chance.

Zebras in Botswana © HSavege

Zebras

After dry season, many zebras from Chobe/Linyanti area head to Nxai Pan to stay from about Dec to Feb. Some zebras in Okavango migrate at similar times to Makgadikgadi Pan.

Meerkats in Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana © AGMarks

Meerkats

Head for the Makgadikgadi Pans to meet meerkats. It’s easiest to see them here in the dry season from around April to October.

Male lion, Botswana © TEdwards

Big cats

Lions, leopards and cheetahs can all be seen in much of Botswana. While you can see them all year, it’s easier to see them in the dry season when grasses are short.

Carmine bee-eater © OProsicky,Shutterstock

Carmine bee-eaters

These beautiful migratory birds return to Botswana around late August/September and stay until about November.

tracy
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Call:  01473 890499

Start planning your tailor-made holiday now. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.

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