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From: Wade Allsopp []
Sent: samedi 9 août 2003 11:23
To: Lonna Gerak
Subject: [RTWers] Re: East and southern Africa: when to go
Hi Lonna

I'm glad to see u are interested in Africa. Its a beautiful continent.
You will tend to get some conflicting advice as to when to go as there
are different factors which are importantr to different people.

For wildlife viewing the important factor is the rains. This is for
several reasons.   In the wet season the animals will  disperse as
obtaining water ceases to be a problem.  Although there is obviously
the same number of animals their density will be much lower as they
will be spread out over a much greater area of land than in the dry
season, when animals will not wander too far from sources of water such
as rivers and water holes.  The grasses also start growing like crazy
so that although the country is pleasantly green, animals are more
difficult to see.  The third problem with the rainy season is that you
are going to get wet.

In East Africa the "long rains" are usually mid March-May and the short
rains are in November-December.  So that the "classic" wildlife viewing
periods are late June-September/Oct and second choice Jan-Feb.

In the Serengetti things are complicated by the migration of the
wildebeest between the Serengetti and Kenya's Masai Mara.  Roughly
speaking the migration northwards into the Mara happens as the
Serengetti dries out in June/July and they come south as the short
rains kick in in November. They start calving in Feb/March/April down
in the south of the Serengetti in time for the new grass of the rainy
season. However as it all depends on when the rains break the timings
vary from year to year.

Whenever you come in the Serengetti u will see some animals, for
example those in the Nongorogoro are trapped their year round, but if
you come in say September, most of the big hurds will be on holiday in

The following web site has an excellent explanation and up to date info
on the state of play re the migration.  In general unless you have lots
of cash and little time, I wouldn't book safaris from the west, as you
will pay a big premium to cover the western salaries/profit margin -
western agencies specialise in high margin, top end safaris.

I've never been in a balloon safari, they sound very romantic, though I
presume you will get an overview of the animals rather than any close
up encounters.

In general when looking for safaris one of the most important factors
is the type of vehicle you are travelling in.  Being one of 4 in an
open top Land Rover/Cruiser is a completely different (and much much
more pleasurable) experience from being the 10th person in a minibus,
especially one without an open sunroof. This is one reason why getting
away from the high volume operators in Kenya and South Africa - who
tend to use minibuses - which are obviously cheaper to run can be very
rewarding. I would also strongly recommend taking a walking safari
which gives a whole different dimension and excitement to safaris.
These tend not to be allowed in the bigger parks in kenya, tanzania and
South Africa but are generally available in places like South Lewangwa,
Okavanga, Matsudonna (Zimbabwe).

Therefore if you are primarily interested in seeing the wildebeest
migration into the Masai, you should probably aim to be there in
July/August.  If you are interested in Southern Africa too, then you
should then head south to Malawi and then start going West towards
Namibia.  In southern Africa the rainy season tends to start in the
East in say October and move Westwards starting in Botswana in say
November.  It can get very hot and dry just before the rains break so
if you were planning to head south in say August and start moving
westwards then that would be good.

If you do this, be sure to visit South Lewangwa National Park in Zambia
- one of my favourites  (stay at Flatdogs) and Jungle Junction on the
upper Zambezi in Zambia.  If you are not on too tight a budget, try and
get to the Okavanga  (This is expensive in peak season, but there are a
few budget options to the Eastern Delta, or you could go like me at the
beginning of the wet season in November and get a good deal in Oddballs
Camp in the Central Delta)

I've ccied this reply to my RTW group as I think this info could well
be useful to others contemplating an Africa trip.

--- Lonna Gerak <> wrote: > Hi Wade,
> I've noticed via a few of your posts on the Thorn Tree that you
> really
> enjoyed Africa.  My boyfriend and I are going on an ATW trip middle
> of
> September starting in England (we are Canadian).  We want to spend a
> few
> months in Eastern and Southern Africa but are getting some
> conflicting info
> on when the best time to go is.  The problem we are having is with
> the
> Serengeti.  It has always been my life long dream to do the balloon
> ride
> over the Serengeti so I would like to be there when it is the best
> for
> animal viewing and kind of work the rest of  where we want to go in
> Africa
> around that.  We have no limit as to when we can go as we have
> working visas
> for England and can use them either before or after (or both) we do
> Africa.
> I was hoping you could give a little insight as it sounds like you
> spent
> quite a bit of time there and probably know a thing or two from
> experience.
> Thank you very much in advance.  .
> - Lonna Gerak

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