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Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Wollongong
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Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

We are planning a trip to Okavanga Delta then Tanzania hopefully Tarangire NP, Lake Manyara NP and Serengeti NP. We will be starting our trip in Cape Town and after visiting the above will finish in Zanzibar.

We checked prices last year for travel in June 2013, but the cost for the standard of accommodation we wanted (4/5*) was a little outside of our budget. There were quite a few flights included and we wanted private safaris, as we have travelled to Kenya and Botswana before on private safaris and prefer to do it this way. We do not want to compromise on standard of accommodation.

Would appreciate any advice on alternative times to travel, other than June, wheen we can get the best weather possible in all these areas at the same time getting the best animal sightings. Do the changes of seasons have that much impact if you travel at the end of one or beginning of another?The prices can be quite different. We anticipate a trip of approx. 3 and a half wks.

Thank you in advance.

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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1. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

I would try Feb/March.

I imagine the Botswana section was adding a lot to the cost for June- especially if looking at having a private vehicle in fly-in camps, which would be adding $300-$500 per day for a private vehicle. In Feb/March you will get green season pricing in Botswana (which will reduce costs a lot), but then you can be in Tanzania for the Wildebeest calving season. The weather in the Cape should be nice at that time of year too.

I can't help thinking you're still trying to squeeze in quite a lot- you probably need at least 10 days for the Tanzanian Northern Circuit, at least a week in Botswana, a few days in Cape Town and a few nights on Zanzibar but you might end up losing a few nights in transit as the connections between locations might not be that great. I know Kenya Airways now has direct flights from Vic Falls to Nairobi, so if you finish your Botswana section in Kasane you could transfer to Vic Falls for a couple of nights then up to East Africa.

Maun, Botswana
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2. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Botswana.

Pricing varies a lot between High season (April to November) and Low Season (December to March).

Try and come in Low season if possible..

Summer (wet season) - October to March.

Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Cloud coverage and the arrival of the first rains, towards the end of November or early December, cool things down considerably.

During the rainy period, which lasts until the end of February or early March, the days are hot and generally sunny in the morning with afternoon thunderstorms usually in short, torrential downpours during the late afternoon. Day time temperatures can rise to 38°C and night time temperatures drop to around 20°C - 25°C. Northern areas receive up to 700mm of rain per annum while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm per annum.

Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground, as it is lost to evaporation and transpiration. In summer, morning humidity ranges from 60 to 80% and drops to between 30 and 40% in the afternoon.

Winter (dry season) - April to September.

Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the southwest. Day time temperatures generally reach 20° C and evening temperatures can be as low as 5°C. Virtually no rainfall occurs during the winter months. In winter humidity can vary between 40 and 70% during the morning and fall to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon.

For tourists, the best months to visit are from April through to October - in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife gather around the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams - and are at their most visible.

Botswana is a year round wildlife destination. However, there are certain seasons that are more suitable for special interests than others. We are often asked "which is the best time of the year to travel?" and to answer this question properly, we would need to know what you wish to experience on your safari.

The following information is to be treated as a guideline as weather patterns and wildlife rhythms are never predictable and can never be guaranteed at a specific time or in a specific area.

Wollongong
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3. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Thanks for your prompt reply. Our itinerary planned for this year which we postponed was:

Cape Town - 5 nts

Botswana - 3 nts Kanana - 3 nts Shinde.

Tanzania consisted of 1 nt Arusha - 2 nts Tarangire NP. Drive to Lake Manyara NP with lunch box and game drive then on to Ngorongoro Crater for 2 nts - Serengeti NP 3 nts then back to Arusha for 1 nt

Zanzibar - 4 nts.

In 2011 (end Sept/beg Oct) we visited Kenya for 9 nts then Vic Falls for 2 nts then Chobe for 3 nts so it's not our first trip to Africa. We were on safari everyday in Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara. We were blown away by the amount of sightings - we saw everything except leopards, which we saw in Chobe. We saw rhinos in Lake Nakuru.

We would like to see as much as possible but as the settings/surroundings would be different the experience would be different? My husband loved the birdlife we saw in Chobe.

Perhaps you could comment on the detailed itinerary above and give some further feedback which would be much appreciated.

Wollongong
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4. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Thanks Botswanafootprints for your prompt reply also. You will see from my reply to stokeygirl that we were in Africa in 2011, where we visited and what we saw. We want to go back but this time to different destinations, which hopefully will make for a different experience, although sighting the same animals but in a different environment. We would like to see as much as possible but know there are no guarantees with wildlife or weather!

Your detailed breakdown of weather was very helpful. Stokeygirl suggests we should consider Feb/March to reduce the price but wonder if based on your information whether this would be a good time to travel from a weather perspective. Any further comments would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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5. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Mostly when people go running all across the continent in one trip it's because they think it's going to be "once in a lifetime" so they have to see it all at once. As it's your second visit, I'm not sure what the point is? You could do a much more compact and in depth trip, and put the money you don't spend on the flights to better use.

Also, both itineraries (your previous trip and this one) just seem to be locations straight out of a package tour brochure- I can't get that excited about either of them. There are some really amazing, slightly more off the beaten track, locations in Africa- perhaps on a second trip it would be worth exploring some.

Perhaps combine Botswana with Zimbabwe (Mana Pools and Hwange) or Zambia (South Luangwa, Kafue, Lower Zambezi). Lake Malawi instead of Zanzibar. Although I'd take back my Feb/March suggestion for those places- Aug/Sept would be my choice.

Or stick with East Africa and go to Uganda/Rwanda for gorillas, and maybe add some of the Southern parks of Tanzania (Selous/Ruaha) or even Katavi/Mahale.

You mentioned going over budget and not wanting to compromise on accommodations- in my experience, it's lots of jumping around, logisitics and transfers that add costs to a trip in Africa and the more you can cut that down the more you can spend on having a quality safari.

Wollongong
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6. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Thank you for your honest and very direct reply. Your comments are noted.

Stanley, Falkland...
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7. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

I would second Stokeygirl's comments. There are also remote parks in the west of Tanzania, where you could have amazing experiences watching chimps. Selous and Ruaha are vast and virtually empty of tourists. Several luxury lodges to choose from, eg Beho Beho.

Either East or Southern Africa. Trying to squeeze in both means wasting time at airports and in the air.

If Botswana - combine, as said, with Zambia. Have you tried walking safaris? They are very different from sitting in a vehicle.

Kampala, Uganda
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8. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

What about the gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda

Minneapolis...
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9. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

I agree completely with StokeyGirl. The itinerary needs work. We are on our third trip to Africa. The first to East Africa....Kenya and N. Tanzania. The second to southern Tanzania. Now Botswana. We spent 3 weeks each time. I highly recommend fewer stops.....more nights in each stop. Honestly, you will see roughly the same animals in most places and the longer you stay put, the better chance you have of memorable sightings. We always travel in the green (or shoulder) season. I have reduced our cost by 60% or more over high seasons. Added advantage.....fewer people. We are headed to all Wilderness Safari camps in Botswana in the green season this November. I recommend you do more research.

Wollongong
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10. Re: Best time to travel to Botswana/Tanzania/SA/Zanzibar.

Thanks to everyone for their replies and suggestions.