Best Time to Visit Botswana
Although Botswana can be visited year round, the dry season (June-October) is generally considered the best time, both for weather and wildlife viewing. Paradoxically, this is also when the Okavango Delta is flooded and its most luxuriant. However, other times of year can be equally rewarding. The green season (December-March) is hotter and wetter, but it’s arguably the best time for birdwatching. July and August are peak season – be sure to book well in advance.
Botswana in the dry season (June-October)
Dry season in most African national parks is usually good news for safari-goers – vegetation has died back making wildlife easier to spot, while dwindling water sources concentrate game into defined areas. In Botswana, this is particularly true in Chobe National Park. Dry season, however, is when the Okavango Delta receives its annual floodwaters. It takes roughly six months for summer rainfall to percolate south from the Angolan Highlands and Namibian Panhandle to recharge the vast wetland. By June, the inundation is at its height; large areas of grassland are flooded and wildlife must adapt to a watery existence. While some species, like lechwe and sitatunga, are perfectly adapted to an amphibious lifestyle, other wildlife will move out to the fringes of the delta. Some camps in the Okavango are located by permanent, year round water, others have seasonal water. By staying in two or three different locations, you can (depending on when you visit) experience activities ranging from walking safaris and game drives to exploring the delta by boat or mokoro dugout canoe. Rain is rare during the dry season and the skies are usually clear – but early mornings can be chilly, so you’ll need warm clothing.
Temperature Botswana has a subtropical desert climate with warm or hot days and cool nights. During peak season (June-August), expect daytime temperatures of around 25°C, climbing from chilly early mornings of 6°C. The heat builds in October when average daytime temperatures can exceed 34°C. During the wet season, daytime temperatures range from around 30-33°C – but cooler in the mornings and following rain.
Rainfall During the dry season there is little or no rain. By November and December, there may be an occasional afternoon shower, but January and February are the wettest months with torrential downpours.
- Late March or early April: Maitisong Festival – performing arts in Gaborone
- Early September: Okavango Delta Music Festival
Botswana in the green season (December-March)
The summer rains reach their peak in January and February when it can pour for several days. In December and March, you’re more likely to experience short afternoon showers. Some camps and lodges don’t operate during the green season, but those that do can offer superb wildlife viewing – with few other visitors and cheaper prices. When floodwaters recede in the Okavango Delta at the end of the dry season, exposed floodplains are transformed into lush grassy swathes by the first summer rains. Antelope, zebra and other herbivores are lured onto the plains to graze and give birth – and predators like lion and hyena are never far away. Migrant birds also arrive and nesting colonies of herons and bee eaters are at their most active. Summer rains also bring the Kalahari Desert and Magkadikgadi Pans to life with everything from wildflowers to flamingos. The flurry of wildlife activity, vibrant vegetation and rain-washed skies all conspire to keep photographers happy.
Botswana in transition seasons (April-May and November)
Caught between dry and wet seasons, these transition months shouldn’t be overlooked. May can often have beautiful weather and large concentrations of wildlife, particularly around the Savute Channel and Linyanti River. November, meanwhile, is extremely hot – the land waiting with baited breath for the coming rains. Wildlife sightings are easy during this month since the vegetation is at its driest and most frazzled. Herds congregate near water sources like the Savute Channel.