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Safaris in May: Best African Safari Destinations to Visit

by Cris Puscas

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While in the Northern Hemisphere May comes with the promise of warm temperatures and lovely weather, Africa (in the Southern Hemisphere) experiences opposite conditions.

As the days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting cooler, and the weather drier.

The best safari destinations in Southern Africa – Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – bid farewell to the summer rains and are now drying up quickly. Therefore, wildlife spotting becomes easier.

On the other hand, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania receive the most rainfall, making the conditions unpredictable. However, in the Serengeti, the wildebeest begin crossing the crocodile-infested Grumeti River in May and June, so you’d have to book ahead of time to catch this spectacle.

So, where should you go for a safari in May? Here we’re sharing a list of the African safari destinations to visit at this time of the year where you’ll enjoy great wildlife spotting and amazing scenery.

The Garden Route & Eastern Cape, South Africa

The Garden Route, South Africa

Take advantage of the last days of mild and sunny weather and start your trip in Cape Town. Allow a couple of days to explore Table Mountain and check out the Cape Winelands. By mid-May, the weather can turn windy and wet.

From Cape Town, embark on a road trip and check out the gorgeous Garden Route. You can combine it with visiting Addo Elephant Park.

Families can consider combining the road trip with a safari in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. All game-drives are run by the private lodges dotting the reserve, making the experience really exclusive.

»Planning to drive on the Garden Route? Check out this itinerary to Addo Elephant Park and the Garden Route!


Etosha National Park, Namibia

elephant in etosha national park namibia

Namibia is quite charming in May. While the best season to visit is during the winter (June to September), now it’s the perfect time to avoid the stickiness of the summer months and take advantage of perfect temperatures.

In Etosha National Park, the best park in the country for wildlife viewing, May brings affordable rates as the high season hasn’t kicked in yet. Rain is rare and the country is still lush, but the scenery starts to turn to million shades of brown.

With the slow shift in weather, the wildlife starts to gather at the waterholes, so they become easier to spot. Elephants and lions are particularly easy to catch a glimpse of.  And you’d be happy to know that the park is home to a healthy population of black rhinoceros.

»Not sure if you should visit Namibia’s best park for game viewing? Read about what you need to know before visiting Etosha National Park!


Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

wild dogs in lower zambezi national pak, zambia

Photo credit: Wilderness Horizon Safaris

The Lower Zambezi National Park is a great destination to head to in May. The camps begin to reopen as many stayed closed during the wet season.

While the ideal time to visit is from July to October, May is blessed with great weather. It hardly rains and the temperatures are cooler. Do note that the mornings can be quite chilly so pack accordingly!

Elephants and Cape buffalos are abundant in the park. You are also likely to spot lions, hyenas, and leopards. The rare wild dogs have made a comeback to the park, but sightings can be hit-and-miss.

Because the weather is getting drier, the animals tend to congregate at the Lower Zambezi River.


Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

victoria falls

Victoria Falls is spectacular at this time of the year. It takes a few months for the falls to gather steam after the dry months and now it can be an incredible sensory overload. It’s noisy and misty.

If you want to combine a visit to the falls with Chobe National Park in nearby Botswana, May is a good choice. It’s the shoulder season there, so you can take advantage of affordable safaris. While the landscape is still pretty lush, the animal sightings are starting to be good.

Victoria Falls National Park is only one of the parks surrounding the falls. It lies on the southern bank of the Zambezi River and is home to the Big Five Animals. Elands, zebras, giraffes, and antelopes may also be spotted in the park.


Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

wildebeest in serengeti tanzania

While May is not as rainy as April, it’s certainly cooler. And if you are willing to put up with some rain, catching the Great Migration in Serengeti can be quite rewarding.

At the beginning of the month, base yourself in Central Serengeti; but if you plan to visit by the end of the month, the herds move towards the Western Corridor. However, apart from seeing the spectacular herds on the move, game viewing in May is not great.

It’s wise to ask your safari operator where it’s best to be based considering the time of the year since the migration is determined by the weather patterns.

Also, it’s good to know that traveling in May also means you’d be taking advantage of the affordable prices.

»Learn more about the Great Migration in Africa.


Take advantage of the perfect month to book an affordable safari in Africa and be ready to be astonished by the variety of wildlife on the continent

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