When is the best time to visit Botswana?
With the 50th anniversary of independence and ‘A United Kingdom’, a major new Hollywood movie about the country due for release this year, it’s time for a well-deserved place in the sun for Botswana. Sanctuary Retreats has four unique properties in this land-locked country, with three in exclusive private concessions in the Okavango Delta and one overlooking the Chobe River. No destination in the portfolio better epitomises the company philosophy of ‘Luxury, Naturally’ than Botswana.
More guests stay with Sanctuary Retreats in Botswana than any other country and we are often asked about when is the best time to visit Botswana. The answer to that depends on what visitors are looking for, as the camps are open all year and each season has its own attractions.
Everything Turns Green - November to March
The ‘Green Season’ is when the air is fresh and there are rains - everything comes back to life again after enduring the long hot summer. Charl Badenhorst, Sanctuary Retreat’s Botswana Operations Director, says “This is my favourite time of the year. After the arid summers I look forward to cool temperatures and everything turns green”. Usually the skies are bright and sunny in the mornings and sometimes cloud rolls in during the afternoons and there can be thunderstorms. The great up side is that room rates drop so visitors not only get more for their money but will also have the place to themselves. If you’re looking for big dramatic African skies and lush green bush then this is the time to visit. Despite there being more places for game to hide, our guides know where to look and visitors can still tick the ‘Big Five’ off their bucket-list. Migratory birds return to the Chobe National Park and for that reason it is very popular time of year with twitchers.
Blue skies, lush vegetation - April and May
These months are a time of clear blue skies and lush green vegetation. For visitors from Europe and North America, this is an ideal season as daytime temperatures are like summer time back home but evenings are cool and ideal for sleep. Mokoro rides usually start-up around this time (although that varies depending on the floods) and run through to October or November. For families this time can work well with Easter school holidays or spring breaks. As this is a ‘shoulder season’ the lodges and camps tend to have some quiet days so you may be lucky and get to experience a sighting of one of the ‘Big Five’ to yourself!
Game Spotting Heaven - June to August
Winter in Botswana is considered the ‘peak season’ to visit. If your priority is big game spotting, this is one of the best times as the land is drying out and animals start to congregate around highly sought after water holes. There is less foliage and that makes animals easier to spot. Night-time temperatures plummet to 5˚C or even freezing. The up side to this as there are less bugs so visitors can go easy on the insect repellent. Clothing is all about light layers as temperatures yoyo between hot days and chilly nights. With the Delta now flooding mokoro rides are usually available and this gives a welcome break from jeep-based rides. At Chobe, large numbers of animals head to the river for a drink and this makes it a great time to spot wildlife from the cruise boats at Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero.
Hot, Hot, Hot - September to November
This is summer and temperatures soar to as high as 40˚C, so if you live in the northern hemisphere this is a time for winter sunshine and a top up of vitamin E, but you need to love the heat. With the high temperatures and lack of rainfall the land starts to become arid and water scarce. This the best time for big game tracking. Animals will congregate at water holes and as there is not much foliage then predators can be tracked more easily. Impala lambs are born during this time. For Chobe National Park this is also regarded as one of the best times to visit. Fans and air-conditionally will be turned up to the maximum as it remains warm in the evenings. Bring lots of insect repellent as bugs are active in the heat, especially in the mornings and evenings.