African safaris are usually top of most people’s bucket list when it comes to wildlife viewing. And it’s no wonder when you consider the richness of this type of travel experience. However, travellers often struggle when deciding on the optimal timing and destination of their safari, with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at different times of the year. Luxury travel operator and safari expert, Sanctuary Retreats takes a look at one of the best game viewing seasons – June to October – and highlights what is on offer at the key locations during this period.
Serengeti National Park
First on the list is a trip to the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination. This large park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. Sanctuary Serengeti Migration Camp moves between three different locations, literally following the migration as it travels across the Serengeti. Additionally it operates Sanctuary Kusini, a permanent camp in the Serengeti, and every year wildebeest congregate on the camp’s doorstep.
Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera’s high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it’s these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.
With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October. And one of the very best places to catch all the action is Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp. Located right in the heart of Ngorongoro National Park on the crater rim and offering spectacular views of the crater and surrounds, it’s also home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Still one of the world’s best-kept natural secrets, Uganda receives far less visitors than neighbouring countries. Bwindi is home to 340 mountain gorillas, just over half the world’s population of this critically endangered primate. The gorillas are completely wild, but have become acclimatised to seeing a few humans after years of habituation. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is nestled deep inside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides unparalleled opportunities for sighting gorillas – who sometimes wander into the Camp itself. The best times to visit Uganda are December to March and June to September.
With a well-deserved reputation as as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.
Because of its unique terrain, the area is home to a wealth of wild animals (including all of Africa’s Big Five) and plenty of bird life, offering up superb game viewing. In the dry winter season vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the delta, providing one of the world’s most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.
Sanctuary Retreats operates three luxury camps in the Okavango Delta – Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp, Sanctuary Baines’ Camp andSanctuary Chief’s Camp, all of which offer great game viewing experiences, which can be either booked alone or in combination with each other
The final destination on Sanctuary Retreats’ list is the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Masai Mara is the Kenyan extension of the Tanzania’s famed Serengeti. One of Africa’s most famous safari destinations, the Mara also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, and is a good place to experience Africa’s Big Five.
The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra. Sanctuary Masai Mara Seasonal Camp is open from the end of June to the end of October each year and offers guests a luxurious front row seat to the Great Migration as it passes through Kenya.
Mobile camping in Masai Mara
Ideal time to book with savings of up to 30%
So if you are thinking about ticking an African Safari off your bucket list, right now is a great time to book as Sanctuary Retreats is offering savings of up to 30% on selected properties in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Uganda.