Why book an African Safari (Especially Now)? Read More

Peak Season Safaris – What You Need to Know

Anyone planning an African safari can be forgiven for equating ‘peak season’ with ‘the most expensive season’. And while there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll be paying the year’s top price for a lodge or a safari in peak season, it’s worth considering why.

Peak season safaris game viewing

Peak season game viewing is generally the best of the safari year.

After all, there are plenty of amazing wildlife events that take place outside of ‘peak season’. It’s the rains that trigger the mass movement of wildebeest into the Serengeti for example, and it’s during the low season – the wet but cheerfully-named Green Season – that you’ll witness Botswana’s zebra migration and Tanzania’s wildebeest migration.

But there’s a different price to pay for these low season events: it’s a hot, rainy and often malarial time of year – acceptable risks for the seasoned safari traveller but perhaps not for families with children and travellers who want to take those risks out of their experience.

Private bush dinner on peak season safaris

Peak season delivers the kind of weather you’ll need for this experience.

That’s why peak season safaris make sense if the whole experience is considered. And you’ll find the most nuanced safari seasons in southern Africa – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – where you’ll also find shoulder season as well as the low season. Here, peak season is best thought of as a combination of the best wildlife viewing with the most comfortable climate and the lowest risk of malaria. Here’s why:


Peak season is also synonymous with ‘dry season’ which further translates as the best time to see animals. Dry-season vegetation is sparse and low, making wildlife easier to see, and the arid conditions drive animals in great numbers at water sources such as Botswana’s Chobe River, Namibia’s Etosha Pan and Zambia’s Lower Zambezi.

Mass concentrations of elephants in the Chobe River

It’s only during Botswana’s peak season that you’ll witness mass concentrations of elephants.

And peak season usually means the best time for the full range of safari activities. The low, dry vegetation favours guided walking safaris in Zimbabwe and Zambia, while in Botswana the Kalahari Desert’s vast Makgadikgadi Pans can be explored on quad bike and camped out on under the stars. Paradoxically, the Okavango Delta is in full flood during the first half of peak season, enabling you to enjoy all the water-based activities under clear blue skies – boating, canoeing and fishing.

Victoria Falls in full flow

Early peak season Victoria Falls is the best balance between views, climate & accessibility.

The paradox continues at Victoria Falls: the local rains have gone but the Zambezi River’s floodwaters have arrived and the result is Victoria Falls looking magnificent in the early peak season – June and July. Water levels then drop rapidly and the Zambezi River becomes accessible to white-water rafting and canoeing as July turns into August.


You’ll also enjoy much cooler temperatures during the June through August peak season. And sometimes it’s really cool – close to freezing in the early morning at most safari destinations. But cold nights also mean roaring log fires and the hearty atmosphere of the enclosed boma – a traditional open-air eating and socialising area. And anyway, peak-season weather during the day is mild to warm, enabling you to use the swimming pool at your lodge and sit down to lunch outdoors.

Winter boma on peak season safaris

Peak season has the best conditions to enjoy this kind of socialising: dry weather, few insects & the sounds of wild Africa.

Such clear weather provides the perfect backdrop for a number of starbeds and sleep-out experiences that can be enjoyed across southern Africa. The views of the starry cosmos are quite phenomenal in the inky darkness of the African night; you’ll only need a mosquito net for cover on your grandly appointed sleeping platform, but you do need the guarantee of dry peak season weather.

Spend a night under the African stars

Only peak season guarantees the clearest of clear nights – perfect for a night under the stars.

And if you don’t like it too cold, then peak season – in southern Africa at least – has a twist in its tail. The last two peak season months of September and October can be fiercely hot – both during the day and at night – but the wildlife viewing reaches a new intensity; go if you can handle the heat, it’s when places like Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are at their most rewarding for animal sightings.

Leopard hunting in the Sabi Sands

The dry peak season landscape makes it easier for both you & predators to see wildlife – prepare for action.


If peak season also means a cool and dry climate, then it’s obvious that this is the safest time to travel in order to avoid malaria and other rainy-season related diseases. Malaria, as it happens, is generally a low risk across southern Africa – see here for more details – but safari peak season – in other words, the coldest and driest time of year – is when you put yourself at the very bottom end of the risk scale. Malarial mosquitos are mostly dormant at this time and the lack of other insects – flies for example – also makes for a more enjoyable safari.

Peak season is also family season

Mild weather, no rain, no malaria & lots of animals to see – peak season is also family season.

It also means easier travelling conditions when on safari – whether by light plane or by 4X4. Skies are clear and less turbulent than in the rainy season while roads are dry and there’s little to no risk of game drives and other activities ruined – or endangered – by a rainstorm.

African floodplains & desert salt pans - inaccessible during the rainy low season.

Peak season opens up floodplains & desert salt pans – inaccessible during the rainy low season.


Peak season is peak season – it’s when most people travel on safari so booking your preferred accommodation needs to be made well in advance – up to 12 months in some cases. And some of the best destinations – Botswana’s Chobe River or South Africa’s Kruger Park for example – are very busy over much of peak season, especially over school holidays.

You can largely avoid this by making a long-term booking and getting our advice about the places to stay that deliver the peak season experience but not the peak season crowds.

Hands-on Expertise

  • We’re based in Africa
  • Consultants Travel in Africa
  • Knowledgeable team
  • Expect great customer service

Accredited & Bonded

  • SATSA – Bonded Membership (2061)
  • Travel Save Compliant Certificate
  • Fully Independent & Owner Run
  • Travel Support from Start to Finish


Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)
Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)