From the busy and sparkling flood lands of the Delta to the barren and eerie flatness of the Makgadikgadi, Botswana is unashamedly our flavor of the month for Africa. It is thrillingly extreme and satisfyingly unpredictable. At times devastatingly wet and at times devastatingly dry, the experience spectrum is wide and Botswana makes full use of it.
When to Visit Botswana For Your Family
If your trip to Africa is restricted by school holidays, you’re in luck there is no bad time to visit Botswana. Take a look at our calendar below to see what’s happening where. Botswana changes dramatically throughout the year due to flooding in Angola, and the rains swept down by the ITCZ (the Intertropical Convergence Zone to understand the SubSaharan weather patterns, you need to understand the ITCZ). As a general rule, the rains start in November (though can be as late as January) and continue until about April. The Okavango Delta flooding follows the rains (anything from 2-6 months later) and starts to recede around August.
January to February
This is the “Green Season” when the big Botswana skies open often and with abandon. It’s not generally considered a good wildlife viewing time because the bush is dense and animals are hidden and skittish, as they protect their young. However, there is fresh grazing in the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi which attracts large herds. In the Delta and the north, this is a great time for birding and a good time to spot young animals. This is also a good value season to visit Botswana.
March to April
The nights are cooler and the rains are showing signs of relenting. In the north, the Okavango may start to flood. April is traditionally the unpredictable ‘Shoulder’ season as the rainy season turns to dry.
May to June
The sun shines and the nights are cold. In the north, the water has arrived from the Angolan highlands, turning the dry sands of the Kalahari into a teeming floodplain. In the Makgadikgadi, the waterholes dwindle and the bush starts to shrivel, and the Pans start to fail those lives depending on them.
This is our recommendation for the best time to visit the Delta if you are looking for value: the landscapes and game-viewing are stunning, but it’s easier on the wallet if you head out before mid-June.
July to August
This is the dry season in earnest and the high season. The north is flooded (the ‘dry’ season refers to the rains, not to the floods of the Delta), with abundant game, vacation trip and the Makgadikgadi is dry and achingly barren perfect for a quad bike.
We’d generally recommend avoiding the busier period of the UK school holidays (predominantly August), but in Botswana, this will make little difference to their severely restricted traffic, and youngsters are not in fact invited to most accommodations. This is a great time to visit Botswana.
September to October
These are the peak wildlife viewing months in the north when huge herds congregate around the remaining water. The arid Makgadikgadi is in an unpredictable period of transition from dry to wet, and this is the time for the iconic images of watery suns in huge dust-filled skies if you can stand the rising heat which can reach 45ºC (113ºF).
November to December
The rains arrive at some point, and accommodation rates drop in response. This is the beginning of the green season, the young are born and the cycle starts once more. December can be an incredibly rewarding time to visit Botswana, in the north, particularly for birding, and the Makgadikgadi for the big game as the land once more becomes green, but it is for ‘experts’ who are not looking to tick off a checklist of wildlife, and who understand that this is a remote experience, very much at the mercy of nature.