Best Time for SA Safari?


Mar 22nd, 2004, 02:36 PM
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Best Time for SA Safari?

Taking into consideration both weather and game viewing, what is the best time to go on Safari in South Africa? What is the second best time, and when would you not consider going at all?
Ericka is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2004, 09:42 PM
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Speaking for myself, I would go on safari in South Africa at any time. However, various times do have their pros and cons, which I'll try to describe:

* June, July, August and September are low risk months from the point of view of malaria. Much of the advice about malaria prevention states that one does not need to take antimalarial drugs during these months. Do consult your own specialist in tropical medicine, however. To give you an idea of the areas that are considered to be risky from October through May, here is a map:

* If you are sensitive to heat, the months that are safest with respect to malaria also are the most pleasant from the point of view of weather. During the southern hemisphere winter, the lowveld areas in which many game reserves are situated have warm days and cool nights.

* Since winter is the lowveld's dry season, there is less foliage. This is both a pro and a con. It's easier to spot wild animals when the bush is dry, but on the other hand the vegetation is more brown than it is green.

* November and December appeal to me from the point of view that they are the months in which many species (impala, etc.) lamb. I find the young animals very cute.

* However, the lowveld is hot, uncomfortably so for me, during the southern hemisphere summer. December, January and February typically are the months during which the heat is the most intense.

* Summer is the rainy season (rain falls mainly in the form of short showers). This makes the vegetation lush and green. It's pretty, but it impedes game viewing to some extent.

* The game reserves receive an influx of tourists during the South African school vacations (which South Africans call holidays).

* The most popular time for South African families to go on vacation is some time during the summer school holidays that last for six weeks from about the beginning of December to about the middle of January.

There are lesser, but still notable, influxes of tourists during the other school vacations. The 2004 vacation dates are roughly as follows:

March 27 - April 4

June 26 - July 18

September 25 - October 3

So, while I like the new lambs and green foliage of November and December, my preferred time probably would be July 19th to September 24th. It would be safer from the point of view of malaria, the weather would please my taste, and most South African schools would be in session, thus taking pressure off the accommodations in the game reserves.

If you have any intention of including Cape Town in your trip, you should be aware that its climate is different from that of the lowveld in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal. Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with warm to hot, dry summers and cool, wet and sometimes windy winters.

The time that represents the best compromise for visiting both the game reserves and Cape Town probably is the southern hemisphere autumn, around April or so.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:46 AM
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Thank you Judy for the very thorough reply. Lots to consider....I especially appreciate your comments about the baby animals!
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