May sees the beginning of southern Africa’s dry season. The end of the rains heralds the start of top-notch wildlife viewing conditions as the vegetation begins to thin.
In South Africa, the arrival of autumn sees increased visibility of wildlife in the main game reserves, often around waterholes. In the north days are nice but mornings and evenings are chillier, while Cape Town and the Garden Route experience mixed weather.
In Botswana, the rains may be over, but the Okavango Delta is filling up fast making it arguably the most spectacular place in Africa (something we argue to be true at any time of year!). Regarded by those in-the-know, as the secret season, there is a huge advantage to travelling Botswana during May as safari rates are still calculated at a low season rate which makes Africa’s most expensive safari destination more affordable.
May is the beginning of Namibia’s winter, but unlike winters elsewhere you’ll find plenty of sunshine, long, dry days and low humidity. In Etosha, the Big 5 are active and gathering around the waterholes making them easy to view. The dunes at Sossusvlei are magical all year but during May they are particularly special as the lower sections and surrounds can still be covered in a layer of grass which attracts desert-adapted animals from near and far. In the remote northern areas Damaraland and Kaokoland are pleasantly warm, and in the South, the slightly cooler weather makes this an excellent time to explore the spectacular Fish River Canyon.
Zimbabwe is still technically in shoulder season in May with clear, fresh days. Excellent wildlife sightings are common as animals begin to congregate around the permanent water holes, and other travellers are few and far between. In Mana Pools, the bush camps are re-opening and walking safaris are coming into their prime. As with many other locations in May, good rates and specials are available.
Zambia’s famous Luangwa National Park bush camps tend to be open in May, and the wonderful Lower Zambezi National Park and Kafue National Park’s see the majority of camps re-open. This is really the start of Zambia’s season and is a lovely time to visit before peak season hits.
The table below indicates the locations which we rate as the best and good in May.
Where to go in May
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