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Best time of year to safari in South Africa

Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 08:46 PM
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Best time of year to safari in South Africa

Since 2005 I've safaried every year in South Africa in September. And one time also in May of 2007.

My last safari, the first three weeks in Sep, had mostly good weather, but, did have six days of solid overcast skies. No rain, but one morning was very heavy fog/drizzel. Last year, 2007, same time frame, I had also six days of very overcast skies including two mornings of light rain. The heavy overcast skies play holly heck with my photographic skills, I don't like "flat" light..

So, this year I asked around at Kings Camp and Kirkmans about the best weather month for safari in South Africa. Got two answers, August and July. And also was told that August is typically very windy and July typically cold mornings. Windy days are not good for wildlife viewing, the noisey winds apparently disturb their sensor perceptions, they shelter more. Cold would be better. Cold mornings are fine with me, just have to dress for them. Also, May, I looked back at my notes for May 2007 and skies were clear but did have a couple of cold days. So I'm thinking July or May for SA safari.

I'm looking here for opinions/facts as to what month of the year is the best time to safari in SA. And hopefully some SA residents, camp staff, who frequent the forum, and know SA year round, will respond. Is August usually a windy month? Is July a calm, sunny month? May? Thanks in advance.

regards - tom
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Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 09:26 PM
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Tom,

IMHO July is the best month to be in the bush. Mornings are extremely cold but that only lasts for an hour in the morning. August is definitely the windy month of the year in the lowveld. I'd recommend the middle to latter part of July.

Kind Regards,

KK
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Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 09:28 PM
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We went just before the rainy season was scheduled to start. The brush was not yet green, so the viewing was better. The weather was a little cool, but easily managed. We had a little rain twice in 12 days, but only once did I cancel going out because of it.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Many thanks KK, you live and work in SA so I highly value your recommendation.

mikegold- ok, month of?? - October?? Any other times you have been there?

I don't mind a rain, as long as it comes and goes within 4-5 hours. It's those cold fronts that move in and darken the skies for days that bother me. Of course no month/time can be guaranteed, but you can at least play the odds.

regards - tom
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 12:43 AM
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June July is the best time for safari, winter so bush is low and dry, easy to spot game. We went on Safari in Kzn in September and experienced superb weather and saw all of the big 5 except Leopard, (experiencing drought in Hluhluwe Zululand area at the moment)

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 01:01 AM
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Thanks Kim. I also was somewhat surprised by May, the grass was short yet the trees were still green which was nice. Sep also has low bush and perhaps the lowest water hole level?

regards - tom
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 05:08 AM
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FWIW, I was at Kirkman's (and elsewhere) in August and FROZE. There's cold and there's freezing. OK, not literally, but there truly is a point where the animals have the sense to hunker down and stay put . . . Three consecutive mornings in which we drove around seeing next to nothing. I'm sure it isn't always like that . . . it was memorable for the wrong reasons! I'm heading back to that area in late November and that should be interesting!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 06:39 AM
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Tom,

I've been to the Kruger area in late August 2005 and mid-late April 2008 (following a "normal" wet season, I believe). I actually liked April a little better. It was more green and the weather was more consistent. We had 2 overnight rain storms during our week there, but it was clear otherwise.

The late August trip did have a bit of wind. We also had a big dry thunderstorm that started a large fire in the southern parts of the park, followed by a few very overcast, misty days. I believe the sugar cane farmers were also burning at that time of year, making things a bit hazy (but great sunsets).

I'd like to go to Kruger sometime between November and March, to see how green it is.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:17 AM
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Tom,

Our one trip to SA (Phinda, Londolozi, Ngala tented) was in early-September and the weather was fine every day but one--a 4-hr. rain mid-day at Phinda. But, and this is purely anecdotal, I asked our guide at Phinda his favorite month for game-viewing, and he said April.

Good weather, moderate temperatures, and beautiful landscapes.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:02 AM
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Clarification -- it was the very end of July into the first few days of August when we froze.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 11:02 AM
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Tom,

We visited South Africa the first week of September and also asked our guides at Kirkmans and Ngala what was the best month to visit .One said July and the other said July-August.

Out of our 6 days in the Kruger and Greater Kruger area we had 5 perfect sunny and clear days and our last day at Ngala was windy and overcast but after the 4 out of 4 overcast days we experienced at the Mara the year before , we where not going to complain.

However , with the weather changing so much lately it is going to be very difficult to chouse a single month as favorite.
we are going to start to think seriously that going once a year is not in off !!

Paco.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 01:21 PM
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Thanks all for your responses.
Any SA school or public holidays in the July Aug months that are busy in Kruger and such thus best to avoid?

regards - tom
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 05:12 PM
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Aug--I've often had wind.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:28 PM
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Lynn - ever been in July??

regards - tom
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:45 PM
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Lynn, you may want to rephrase the "I've often had wind" remark.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2009, 11:38 PM
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June/July is holiday season for South African schools, this yr was 26 June to 20 July
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