Botswana is qualified as a semi-desert, which means that there is little rainfall throughout the year and the temperatures are high. From September to April, the average daytime temperatures are above 30 degrees, but occasionally it can be over 40 degrees. Many people find these temperatures too high and prefer to travel in the cooler period from April to September. Most rain falls in the months of December to March and there is virtually no rain from May to September. Rain showers (usually in the late afternoon / evening) can be very heavy in one place, while a few kilometers away there is not one drop of rain.
In Botswana the seasons are exactly inverted as in Europe, so the winter in Botswana falls in June / July. However, during the day temperatures will be around 25 degrees with lots of sunshine. The nights and early mornings can be cold, so you will have to bring warm clothing on your trip to Botswana.
Best travel time for a safari in Botswana
The main reason to visit Botswana is to go on a safari in one of the National Parks like Chobe National Park. Animals can be seen throughout the year, but there is a big difference in when to see them best. The best time to spot wildlife is in the dry winter months. Animals gather around the scarce ponds and there will be no leaves on the trees, so there are fewer places to hide. After the rains trees and bushes are green and the animals spread out over the land because drinking water can be found everywhere.
The best time for a safari trip to Botswana will be between May and mid October. During the day the temperatures are nice and warm and it is sunny. Temperatures will be around 25 degrees and there is virtually no rain. Do keep in mind that during this period it cools down considerably at night. In June and July the temperature drops to around 6 degrees with sometimes even frost on the ground . During early morning game drives you will need warm clothing. But also during summer months, it can be quite chilly in the morning. Therefore, also pack an extra sweater during this travel period.
Best travel time to visit the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is a special nature reserve that you will find on the UNESCO World Heritage List for good reason. The best time to visit the Okavango Delta is from April to September. Even though this is the dry season in Botswana, the water in the Delta is still high. The reason for this is because the water in the Delta is supplied by the Okavango river from Angola and this flow process takes time. During winter, in July, the water level is the highest in the Delta which makes mokoro (canoe) trips even more impressive. The area is worth a visit all year round, but during the summer there can be heavy rain showers (from December to March). In some places rain can be so heavily that the area becomes unreachable.
You will be able to spot wildlife in the Okavango Delta. The best time for spotting animals is from July till October.
Best travel time to visit the Kalahari
The southwestern part of the Kalahari is a desert area. The rest of the park is classified as half desert just like the rest of the country. To see large groups of animals depends on the places where the water is. During the wet season from December to March, herds of zebras and wildebeest migrate, among others, through the Kalahari. This also is the time that young animals are born which naturally attracts predators such as lions. Due to rainfall during this period, many roads become very muddy and are sometimes even closed. In April and May there are still plenty of animals to see in this area and the roads are in better condition.
During winter, when it is dry, many animals come to scarce water places where they are easier to spot. During the day the temperatures are delightful, but in the evening it can cool down, even towards the freezing point, so warm clothing is needed.
From October to March the temperatures are very high and for many people it will be too warm. Due to the rains this usually dry area, turns much greener.
Best travel time to visit Makgadikgadi Pans
The best time to visit the Makgadikgadi Pans depends on the experience you are looking for.
The actual salt pan is only accessible during the dry season (July to October). During this period you can even drive over it. The dry season is the best time to view the vastness of the salt pan with its huge Baobab trees. As far as you can watch, all you see is the white glittering plain. This is a strange and very impressive experience. This is a good time to look for the meerkat. The area is too dry to see much other wildlife.
The northern part of the pans can be visit all year round. However, from January to March, the second largest migration of zebras and wildebeests can be seen here.
Bird watchers will enjoy the salt pans from December to May. The pans are flooded and now attract many migratory birds and large groups of flamingos!
The above is only a guideline, just like in European countries the weather is not always predictable!