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Africa in October
October is a great month for an African safari: find out where to go with Safari Online – your one-stop safari service.
October is the dramatic finale to the safari season across the southern half of Africa. It’s the last dry month before the summer rains begin and destinations in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are recording their most productive wildlife viewing. Water is scarce and great concentrations of animals can be seen at places such as the Chobe River, Hwange Park and the South Luangwa, attracting large number of predators. If you want to witness the last of the great herds – especially of elephant and buffalo – then October is the month for your southern African safari.
October’s climate can be challenging in safari country – prepare for hot, dry and often humid weather – but the malaria risk is very low and the sensational game viewing makes up for any discomfort. And what better way to unwind after an exciting safari than to laze on a sunny beach? Mozambique’s endearing Bazaruto Archipelago and Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island both deliver a classic Indian Ocean holiday while Lake Malawi, despite lying hundreds of miles from any ocean, has golden-sand beaches, hideaway resorts and the most relaxed atmosphere you’ll find on the continent.
1. Hwange & Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s heavyweight reserve and home to many thousands of elephants and buffalo as well as antelope and zebra; it’s especially good in October as there are only a few water sources available and the concentration of animals is impressive. It’s a similar scene at Mana Pools on the Zambezi River where large herds have gathered, attracting big cats and wild dogs in a wildly beautiful landscape.
There is plenty of well-established safari accommodation available and you’ll enjoy expertly-led game drives at both destinations but at Mana Pools you can also explore on foot and by canoe – the complete safari experience.
INSIDER TIP: “Put together a strategic fly-in package & get the best value out of a Zimbabwe safari.”
Other Great months for Hwange & Mana Pools: July, August & September.
2. Chobe River & Savuti, Botswana
Botswana is at its driest in October but the result is some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the continent. Enormous herds of elephant, buffalo and antelope jostle for space at the Chobe River, itself full of hippos and crocodiles and an epic birding destination. Lions, hyenas and wild dogs launch repeated attacks on the thirsty animals and you can view it all by vehicle or boat in the company of local guides.
Savuti is an area that lies south of the Chobe River and has long been the destination of choice for wildlife photographers and film-makers; its dry-season waterholes are the only ones for miles around and attract a mixture of savannah and Kalahari animals as well as their predators. Savuti is particularly good for the big animals such as elephant, lion and giraffe as well as Africa’s rarer predators: cheetah, leopard and wild dog.
INSIDER TIP: “Ask us about our excellent value-for-money package for a high season safari in Botswana.”
Other Great months for Chobe: July, August & September.
3. Gorilla Trekking, Uganda & Rwanda
Don’t be discouraged by the rain – the gorillas certainly aren’t: October marks the end of the rainforest’s long dry season and gorilla sightings are still good, and you can also go birdwatching and wildlife spotting in the forests. Moreover, if you go in October you can take advantage of cheaper ‘shoulder-season’ accommodation rates and there’s more availability of trekking permits. You’ll need to choose which country to go to: Uganda has more value-for-money accommodation and its gorilla trekking permit is cheaper; Rwanda provides more higher-end accommodation and more exclusive tourist services such as private transfers.
Other Great months for Gorilla Trekking: January & February; June, July, August & September.
4. Lower Zambezi & South Luangwa, Zambia
Both are dominated by a river system and offer excellent, up-close big game viewing all year round but it’s in October, at the very driest and most desperate time of year that these destinations are at their most exciting. Great herds of elephants and buffalo gather at the remaining water while hippos and crocodiles lie exposed below river banks covered in pink and purple carmine bee-eaters. It’s classic predator country – especially lion and leopard – and safari activities include day and night game drives, boat cruises and canoe adventures plus walking safaris in South Luangwa, long recognised as among the best in Africa.
INSIDER TIP: “Design an itinerary with different lodges & locations for the most comprehensive wildlife viewing experience.”
Other Great months for Zambia: July, August & September.
5. Bazaruto & Quirimbas Islands, Mozambique
A handful of islands lying off Mozambique’s Indian Ocean coast, the Bazaruto Archipelago is both easy to reach and rewarding as a holiday destination and best experienced in combination with a safari.
The gateway to the islands is mainland Vilanculos – which lies little more than an hour’s flight from Johannesburg – and, since each island has its own character, Bazaruto is as comfortable with families as it is with honeymooners. Activities include snorkelling and diving, horse riding, dhow cruises and water sports; October also marks the start of Bazaruto’s whale shark season – a bucket-list event for divers.
INSIDER TIP: “On a budget? Beach lodges on the mainland offer competitive rates & much the same activities as their island counterparts.”
Other Great months for Bazaruto: June, July, August & September.
6. Lake Malawi, Malawi
It’s no secret that October is a hot month in southern Africa and that’s what makes a beach holiday such a great combination after a safari. Lake Malawi provides just about everything anyone could want on such a holiday: there is snorkelling and diving, water sports and sailing as well as hammocks slung between palm trees and feet-in-the-sand beach bars.
A destination long renowned for its relaxed and friendly culture, Lake Malawi has a range of accommodations to suit families, honeymooners and nature-lovers and can be combined with nearby nature reserves that are currently making a name for themselves in wildlife conservation.
INSIDER TIP: “Established safari operators in Zambia often have sister camps in Malawi – ask us about great package with easy travel logistics.”
Other Great months for Malawi: July, August & September.
7. Zanzibar, Tanzania
A position at the crossroads of several cultures gives Zanzibar its unique and eclectic culture; its setting in the Indian Ocean also means white-sand beaches and coral reefs with water that in October is a balmy 26°C (79°F). This is the perfect place to mix tours and discoveries with ocean activities such as diving and snorkelling.
There is a range of accommodation suitable for all types of travellers and that includes the most discerning: private islands near Zanzibar offer luxurious accommodation with an exclusive, hideaway feel.
INSIDER TIP: “The famous wildebeest migration is on the go: combine Zanzibar with the Masai Mara or northern Serengeti for the best sightings.”
Other Great months for Zanzibar: June through September (cooler & dry) or December & February (hot & mostly dry).