Why the rainy season is the best time for a safari

It's something you'll hear time and time again - that the dry season is the best for wildlife viewing in Africa, with clear, sunny skies and limited water resources that attract animals for easy spotting. But once the dry season tourists have left and the rains bring new life to the savannahs of East and South Africa, the landscapes transform into a lush new world as migratory birds flock to the wetlands while newborn antelopes and elephants take their wobbly first steps.

Rather than a constant drizzle, the rainy season is usually marked by short, but heavy daily downpours that may last just two or three hours. Once the earth has been soaked, the clouds depart to reveal sunny skies and ideal conditions for being out and about spotting game. In fact, there are some destinations that are even better during the wet, with some truly special wildlife experiences. Provided you pack a rain jacket in case you get stuck in a downpour and come with a sense of adventure, a rainy season safari can be just as spectacular as visiting during the dry.

In this guide, we'll share with you some of the reasons you should visit during the "wet" to help you to plan an unforgettable green season safari.

1. Fewer crowds

One of the most obvious advantages of traveling to Africa outside of the dry season is the reduced crowds, which can make a huge difference to the experience you have. Imagine pulling up in your safari jeep to watch a lion "kill" with six other noisy vehicles and camera-wielding tourists jostling for the best view, versus it being just you and the pride in a suspense-filled moment.

With fewer crowds and less demand for accommodation, you can also be more flexible in your itinerary and change your route to take advantage of special wildlife events or spontaneous sightings. Rather than staying in fully-booked lodges with packed swimming pools and restaurants, you might also be treated to magical accommodation all to yourself!

Serengeti National Park, Jeep traffic during the Great Migration
The dry season also brings large crowds of American and European tourists who also have their long holidays around this time of the year.

2. Better rates and special offers

A direct result of there being less demand in the rainy season is a decrease in rates, with many safari companies advertising special offers that can save you significantly. Many will also do away with their single supplements during the "green season" or offer discounts for families traveling with kids that wouldn't normally be available during the peak travel period. The money you save can be put towards staying a little longer, upgrading your accommodation or taking advantage of internal flights, as well as just being set aside for (another) rainy day!

Luxury safari resort, Ruaha Game Reserve
Visiting during the green season is without doubt the most budget-friendly option for any safari adventure.

3. More scenic landscapes and spectacular sunsets

During the dry season, moisture evaporates from the ground and the air becomes dusty, with a soft haze often blanketing the horizon. But as the rains turn the landscapes a lush green, the air clears and the savannah ignites with blooming flowers and succulent bushes.

This is an ideal time to visit for those who want to experience Africa's spectacular landscapes in all their glory and take advantage of the best photography conditions. Picture approaching storm clouds adding dark drama to the sky, together with sunrises and sunsets that transform the horizon into deep pinks, oranges and reds. It's scenes like these that just can't be captured during the dusty, brown dry season.

Sunset over the lake, Selous Game Reserve
Its during the rainy season that Africa's wilderness is at its very best, with epic photography opportunities.

4. Newborns and kills

With the coming of the first rains, antelopes across East and South Africa begin giving birth, with young impala, kudu and springbok seen taking their first, tentative steps. This also brings with it opportunistic predators, such as lions, leopards and hyenas, who prey on the most vulnerable. For those who are in the right place at the right time, visiting during the rainy season can unveil dramatic scenes, like seeing a lioness drag down a wildebeest with her bare claws while her hungry cubs watch and learn.

Masai Mara National Reserve, Wildebeest calf crossing a river during the Great Migration
Many species give birth during the rains, improving the chances to see special wildlife interactions.

5. Best birdwatching

Serious birdwatchers probably wouldn't consider visiting East and South Africa outside of the wet season as it's by far the best time to see a diverse range of both resident and migratory species. Lured by the lush wetlands, birds are busy building their nests and raising their young before heading back to Central Asia or Europe during the dry. Add to that the fantastic breeding plumage that many species such as African pygmy kingfishers and long-tailed widowbirds are displaying and the sightings are second-to-none.

Yellow billed stork drinking water, Moremi National Park
During the wet, many bird species flock to the lakes along the Great Rift Valley and the Okavango Delta.