Amazing safari experiences throughout Africa
July - the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the exact opposite in Africa! But this is one of the very best times to be on a safari anywhere. You can take your pick really - South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya... wherever you go, you will be treated to outstanding game viewing and safari experiences - including even whale watching and possibly a Great Migration river crossing!
Quick 'At a Glance' Summary
- One of the best times to be on safari in Kruger and the surrounding reserves
- Visiting Namibia's Etosha National Park
- Watching thousands of wildebeest brave a river crossing in Serengeti's Northern Plais
- Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda
- Game viewing in Zambia or Zimbabwe
July is the height of winter in Kruger, which co-incides with some of the very best game viewing to be found here. Water is now becoming very scarce, so animals are becoming very reliant on the waterholes or rivers, which means greater game viewing opportunities around these areas. The vegetation is very short now. Daily temperatures are still pleasant, but the early mornings and nights are very cold and you will need several warm layers for your morning and evening game drives as well as a beanie hat, scarf and even gloves!
The same applies if you are on safari at any of South Africa’s many reserves – you will need to layer up due to the cold!
Be prepared to struggle to find space if you are looking for a last-minute safari deal – the majority of the lodges get booked very early for travel in July, so it is worthwhile planning ahead and booking something anything up to 12 months in advance – especially if you have your heart set on a particular lodge.
In Hermanus, the first of the migrating Southern Right whales are beginning to arrive into the bay from their long trip from the Antarctic Ocean, where they come every year to calf.
This is the peak time to travel to Botswana to visit Chobe and the Okavango Delta. Due to the lack of rain, the wildlife flock to the waterholes and rivers, making for some wonderful sightings. Predators lie in wait nearby, so the game drives can be action packed as a pride of lion attempt to take down a buffalo who up until then had been blissfully unaware of the lurking danger as he strays away from the main herd while enjoying a drink.
The Okavango Delta is now in full flood with the flood waters that come down from the Angolan highlands. Mokoro trips and boat cruises complete the Delta safari experience, although in some areas, only water based activities can be offered due to the high water levels so ideally it is best to combine a few nights in a water camp with a land camp, to get a more varied safari experience.
The days are pleasantly warm and sunny, but the nights do get very cold, with temperatures dropping to below freezing on some nights - so on morning and evening game drives you will need plenty of layers to keep warm!
Visitors can expect prices to be at their peak, and early planning is advised as the camps/lodges to get booked up months in advance.
One of the best times to visit Namibia for game viewing is July. This is the dry season, so in Etosha, the wildlife congregate in huge numbers around the waterholes, making for excellent game viewing. In Damaraland, the same applies if you are tracking the desert adapted elephants that roam freely here - head for the riverbeds and you should not be disappointed.
The skies are a brilliant blue throughout the month, so the beautiful red sand dunes at Sossusvlei against such a contrasting sky makes for some wonderful photos, regardless of whether you are a professional or a mere amateur behind the lens of a camera! With no clouds in sight, the star gazing at night is truly amazing - but it will be very chilly outside, so take plenty of layers to keep warm.
The far Northern Serengeti plains are now playing host to the migrating wildebeest, who have to cross the Tanzania section of the Mara River in order to make it to the fresh grass waiting for them in Kenya’s Masai Mara. The riverbanks are steep, and the crocodiles lying in the river below are hungry. Many do make it across unscathed, but for many their journey will end here. If you want to be here to potentially see a river crossing, early booking is advised – and by early we do mean up to 15 months in advance.
Further south, the Tarangire National Park comes into its own. The Tarangire River crosses the Park, and as the weather becomes progressively drier and the surrounding waterholes start to dry out, the river becomes a firm favourite and huge herds of elephant, antelope, zebra, buffalo and wildebeest begin to amass along the river banks.
If trekking gorillas is high on your bucketlist, then head to either Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park in July. The tropical rainforests experience their lowest rainfall during this month, which nicely dries the forested trails, making them more stable underfoot as you hike through the dense foliage in search of a gorilla family to sit with for an hour. Good sturdy walking shoes are still a 'must have' however, don't try the walk in flipflops!
Being a peak month for trekking, however, gorilla permits get sold out very quickly, so very early planning is required - normally a year (or even longer) in advance.
One of the peak times to travel to Zambia is July. This is the middle of the dry season here, and daytime temperatures are pleasant. Game viewing is excellent, as the wildlife are now reliant on the remaining water sources, so heading to any river should give you some exceptional animal sightings. Walking safaris are easeier under foot as the bush continues to dry out. Please be prepared for the visitor numbers to be high, however, so early planning is definately advised.
July is the dry season in Hwangwe and Mana Pools and one of the best times for wildlife sightings in both Parks. The many waterholes in Hwangwe have become a magnet for the wildlife, and it is not uncommon to see huge herds of elephants drinking together. In Mana Pools, the areas around the Zambezi River is where you need to head on game drives to see high concentration of game.
This is a popular time for visitors to the Victoria Falls, as the Falls are not is such full flood, so you can actually appreciate and see more of the spectacle without being continually covered in spray and mist!
Towards the end of July, the first of the migrating wildebeest herds normally begin to arrive in the Masai Mara. As a result, you can expect to see more lions and other predators waiting on the sidelines for a quick snack. And with the herds also comes increased numbers of tourists (despite the higher prices), as July is the start of the most popular time to visit the Masai Mara.
To avoid the masses, many people looking for a quieter safari experience head to the private conservancies which have a large range of luxury camps and lodges suitable for all budgets.
July is a good time to combine a safari in the Mara with Amboseli. Amboseli’s wildlife tend to congregate more around the swamps and marshes that are fed with underground water supply from Mount Kilimanjaro’s ice cap, as the rest of the Park continues to dry up during this dry season.
July is the Southern Hemisphere winter, however, so whilst these months in the Mara and Amboseli are the dry months so very little rain, the early mornings can feel cold so it is advisable to pack warm clothes, especially if you are going to be on an open game vehicle for your game drives. Samburu, however, being further north, will not feel as chilly, so not as many layers will be required.
The beaches along the coast are busy with sun worshippers, and the temperatures are pleasantly warm with a light sea breeze bringing a much needed relief from the hot sunshine.