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Africa in April
Find out where to go in April for your African safari: it’s raining in some places but drying up in others – read more…
Africa in April sees one of the year’s biggest weather changes: heavy rains have set in across East Africa but down in Southern Africa the reverse is true: it’s drying up.
For the traveller, this means an African safari in April is probably going to be most rewarding in southern destinations such as Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and the Kruger. Even more so when you consider that April is a great time for iconic Victoria Falls and Cape Town, both easily incorporated into a safari itinerary. Or, if it’s a beach holiday that you’d like to pair with your safari, then April is still warm and sunny and you have a choice of Southern African beach destinations ranging from the bracing waters of the Cape coast to sub-tropical Mozambican islands.
That’s not to say that East Africa is off limits at this time of year. You are likely to experience rain on safari in April but as well as showers, April also brings reduced prices for accommodation and there are few other visitors. And although some experiences like gorilla trekking will be very wet and muddy, a Serengeti safari takes you into the heart of the wildebeest migration as they begin a great westward trek, pursued by predators on all sides.
1. Kruger Park & Sabi Sands, South Africa
The bush is still green and lush in the Kruger National Park in April, but waterholes are shrinking and animals are starting to cluster at the larger water sources.
There’s always good wildlife viewing in the Kruger Park itself but for a more guaranteed Big 5 experience, go to the adjoining private reserves such as the Sabi Sands. Smaller than Kruger but with a great density and diversity of animals and birds, these reserves have accommodation for every type of traveller and you’ll enjoy expertly-led day and night drives plus guided bush walks and off-road driving for exceptional sightings. Highly recommended for couples and honeymooners as well as multi-generational groups and families with children.
INSIDER TIP: “Several operators have put together ‘Kruger Combo’ packages with a mix of accommodations & destinations – it’s a good way to stay within budget.”
Other Great months for Kruger Park & Sabi Sands: June through October for the popular dry season; November through January for the Green Season.
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia
The local rains are drying up but the Zambezi River is close to bursting its banks as it absorbs the massive volume of water coming from the river’s remote watershed. By the time the Zambezi reaches Victoria Falls it is a mile wide and rushing along like a train. The result of the river’s sudden 100 metre (300 foot) drop is a plume of spray that can be seen from dozens of miles away – the Smoke that Thunders, to give it its local name.
You’ll need to choose between staying in Zambia or Zimbabwe but the experience is similar in either country at this time of year and border crossings are usually straight-forward if you’d like another perspective of the falls. There are also many activities in the area – game drives, market trips, bungee jumps, scenic flights and elephant interactions – but with the water levels this high, there’s no white-water rafting at this time of year.
INSIDER TIP: “Book a microlight or helicopter flight to see Victoria Falls from the air – it’s the best way to see it – & ask us about reduced accommodation rates or ‘Pay 2 Nights, Stay 3’ deals.”
Other Great months for Victoria Falls: March & May for the most water going over; June through October for dry weather & the best time for safaris, white-water rafting & Devil’s Pool.
3. Chobe River & Savuti, Botswana
The Chobe River is the most famous region of the Chobe National Park and consistently delivers great views of big game and, above all, elephants. It is most productive in the dry season (July – October) but game drives and boat safaris will reveal a wealth of wildlife both in and next to the river at this time of year.
Then fly to Savuti; it’s an area in the centre of the park with a reputation among guides, photographers and filmmakers as the place to go for dramatic wildlife viewing. Temperatures are still warm in April but it is raw, unpredictable and a battleground for lions and hyenas – and in April a zebra migration is passing through. Stay at a lodge on the Savuti Channel and you’ll have a good chance of seeing the local heavyweights – elephant, lion, buffalo and giraffe – from the comfort of your chalet.
INSIDER TIP: “As well as reduced accommodation rates there are ‘Pay 7 Nights, Stay 8’ deals – divide your time between different camps & enjoy diverse, productive wildlife viewing.”
Other Great months for Chobe River & Savuti: December & early January for the Green Season; June through October for dry weather & peak safari season.
4. Cape Town & Garden Route, South Africa
April in the Cape and summer is gently cooling down into autumn. It’s one of the best months to be outside and walking, whether it’s on a mountain trail or the way to a wine cellar. Cape Town sits at the heart of the experience and there’s plenty to do both in and around the city – hire a local guide for personalised tours and all the best secret spots. It’s also a good destination to do yourself: hire a car and drive to the places you want to see in your own time – Table Mountain, Cape Point and the Boulders Beach penguins.
The Cape Winelands are within easy reach of Cape Town and have lots of accommodation and restaurants; why not go all the way and continue along the coast and onto the Garden Route, one of South Africa’s most-loved holiday destinations.
INSIDER TIP: “If you like the sound of adding the ‘Beach & Bush’ to your Cape Town holiday, then there are great deals available: Pay for six nights and stay for eight! Ask us for more information.”
Other Great months for Cape Town & Garden Route: December, January & February for the hot, dry summer; March & May for milder, less windy weather; August through October for whale watching & the best displays of flowers.
5. Kalahari, Botswana
April in the Kalahari and the summer waterholes are nearly gone. Six months of dry weather lie ahead and many animals are making the most of the last water and remaining greenery as they prepare for tougher times.
Other animals are migrating out of the Kalahari, and this is your chance to see one of Africa’s least-known movements of animals – the Kalahari zebra migration. Head for the Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Parks to catch the migration in action as well as views of the Kalahari’s classic animals such as springbok and gemsbok. There are always plenty of other animals to see in Botswana’s Kalahari: this is a stronghold of lion and cheetah as well as rarer carnivores like wild dogs and brown hyenas.
INSIDER TIP: “Safari accommodation in Botswana is usually very expensive – ask us which lodges offer shoulder season rates in April & you’ll enjoy a good saving.”
Other Great months for Kalahari: December & January (Green Season); June through August for the cooler dry season; September & October for the hot dry season.
6. Lower Zambezi & South Luangwa, Zambia
April is the first month that we’d recommend for a safari to Zambia: the country receives a lot of rain in summer and many camps are temporarily closed. The landscape starts to dry up and the safari season starts.
You can fly from Victoria Falls via Lusaka to both the Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park and choose your accommodation from a number of lodges both in and near the parks. Activities include game drives and walks with some of the best guides in Africa as well as river activities and birding. Both parks are noted for their big game, especially elephants, buffalo, hippo and big cats, and you also have the opportunity at some lodges to go on spot-lit night drives to track Africa’s nocturnal hunters.
INSIDER TIP: “There are good-value deals around in April – ask us about extra fee nights as well as packaged itineraries, designed to save you money.”
Other Great months for Zambia: June through October for peak safari season & the driest weather; December & early January for the Green Season.
7. Sossusvlei & Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Namibia in April and you’ll need an extra blanket at night but a hat and sunblock during the day. It can be very hot at low-lying Sossusvlei after the sun has risen but the landscape is sensational and there won’t be many other visitors. A series of enormous, tsunami-like sand dunes in a desert ocean, Sossusvlei never fails to impress and is best seen at dawn when the dunes change colour, morphing from grey and purple to red and orange.
Combine this sea of sand with a real ocean: the savage south Atlantic, its waves thumping the beaches of the Skeleton Coast, so-named for the shipwrecks that punctuate this fascinating environment. Stay at a desert camp for game drives and walks – you’ll be surprised which animals can survive here – and enjoy some of the most expansive night skies you’ll have ever seen.
INSIDER TIP: “It’s going to be better value if you take a fly-in package, complete with shoulder season rates: ask us about the best current deals.”
Other Great months for Namibia: May to October – it’s mild & dry for most of this time but hot in September & October.