The Spring Season
April and May
This is a guide to the different seasons in Botswana and how the varying temperatures, rainfall, conditions and other factors can influence your safari experience. It will help guide your decision as to what time of year you choose to visit.
We sometimes also call this “shoulder” season. Many lodges will offer “mid” rate prices, as it is considered slightly “off-season” with regards to animal sightings
Locals enjoy these months as you get the best of both – not too hot and not too cold. In May, the weather can in fact be described as “perfect,” with very little chance of rain, cloudless sunny skies and mild temperatures both day and night.
In April, the grass can still be very long, making it harder to track and spot animals (not necessarily a factor in the “Kalahari regions). The drying conditions soon makes for shorter grass and by May, drier conditions are the norm.
Rain from the previous months will have filled up the seasonal waterholes far from the permanent rivers. This means that the big herds will still be dispersed. Remember that there is a big dispersal variation year to year, as the rains may have failed: how many waterholes are still holding water? Did the deeper seasonal pans have enough rain to fill up? Some years yes and some years no!
So this, in theory, can make the game viewing a little more challenging in these months.
However, a safari in “spring” never disappoints – the idea being to design the itinerary to suit this time of year. The greater Makgadikgadi, including Nxai Pan and the Central Kalahari are magnificent at this time of year – still a touch of green and herds located out on the grasslands or moving in transition. One should make these areas the focus of the safari. Safaris to the Okavango, Linyanti, Kwando and Chobe regions are STILL highly productive in April and May – you get lower “shoulder” season prices (in lodges only, not our mobile camps) and there will be less other tourist around!
The summer migrant birds will start to head back north in April, depending on the availability of their insect prey. Red-billed Queleas tend to start breeding (see “migrations”) although the location of these vast nest sites are hard to predict.
This is definitely also a time to focus on our wildebeest and zebra migrations which will be in “transition: between their wet and dry ranges. We often locate our mobile camps out on the Makgadikgadi grasslands or the Savuti Marsh.
Lastly, this is the “rutting” or mating season for many antelope, especially impala.