We are big fans of May for Southern Africa – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. May is just before peak season the weather in Southern Africa is, as a whole, is very pleasant. The days are shortening, but are sunny and warm, with a hint of crispness on early-morning game-drives. May is Autumn, and with trees changing colour and/or losing their leaves, wildlife viewing gets better and better as you move through the month.
Whereas in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania) they are in the middle of their long rains. The rain tends to fall mainly in the afternoons and at night and is usually a short and heavy tropical downpour.
The long rains start to come to an end in late May / early June. These heavy rains can make for tricky and reduced vehicle access in the national parks and game reserves. However, this time of year is also an opportunity to see breathtakingly beautiful green landscapes. A fly-in safari is definitely the best option for a safari this time of year.
Like Kenya, the rains start to come to an end towards the end of May. The Serengeti National Park offers great game viewing, particularly around the Moru Kopjes area where wildebeest herds pass through on their annual journey northwards, towards the Tanzania/Kenya border.
The long rains in Uganda and Rwanda start to ease off, making it a good time to trek both Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
May is Autumn in South Africa. The leaves of autumn in South Africa, further increasing the visibility of wildlife in the main game reserves such as in the Kruger. Mornings and evenings are cooler in May, while Cape Town, the Garden Route, and other areas experience mixed weather.
The Okavango is in full flood and the country becomes probably one of the most beautiful places on the African continent at this time of year. May is regarded by those in the industry passionate as the ‘secret season’ – where the days are lovely and warm with a hint of crispness in the air during the evenings. And, not being peak season means your budget can go further.
In Northern Zambia, the camps and lodges in wildlife areas, like South Luangwa National Park re-open after their wet season. The wet season in Northern Zamibia is longer than that in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. This is really the start of Zambia’s season and is a lovely quiet time to come to the country.
Victoria Falls is also at its peak flow, and similar to Botswana areas such as Mana Pools National Park and Hwange National Park are great places to visit in this shoulder season, before peak season making for great value.
Namibia is also a fabulous destination in May, as the country is still lush, rain is very rare, and the temperature is pretty much perfect because winter has not yet set in. A s with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, May is shoulder season for Namibia, making for great value.