Timkat is observed by approximately 40 million Christian Orthodox Ethiopians and the city of Gondar is the ideal location to witness the Timkats Festival. It is a beautiful city filled with centuries-old buildings and during the festival streets erupt with colorful flags, umbrellas, and thousands of celebrants in flowing white robes. The sound of drums, bells, and chanting accompany parades that span the towns and villages throughout the country and infuse the air with vibrancy and excitement. Worshipers and pilgrims gather at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the royal baths, which are only filled during the festival.
We can customize a safari to Ethiopia to allow a visit during Timkat, while also taking advantage of Ethiopia’s other incredible sites; Axum – reputed to be the home to the Ark of the Covenant, Lalibela – with its rock-hewn churches, the Simien Mountains – for breathtaking views, trekking and wildlife, including the endemic gelada baboon, Lake Tana – for its calm waters and mysterious monasteries and Bale Mountains – for the otherworldly scenery and a chance to glimpse the rare Ethiopian wolf.Visit Ethiopia!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyRmVicnVhcnklMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFFebruary – BotswanaFebruary is a magical time to visit Botswana. Its most popular destinations – Chobe National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Okavango Delta – are in the throes of the green season. Everything is incredibly lush, animals are fat and happy, and best of all, it’s low-season pricing!
There is another huge, but little known draw to visiting Botswana in February. It is home to the longest migration of zebra and wildebeest on the African continent. The migration takes place in the enormous Makgadikgadi Pan, on the edge of the Kalahari desert. This huge salt pan is dry most of the year, but for a few short weeks or months during the wet season, it is changes into something entirely different. When the rains arrive in this normally arid region, they transform the desert landscape into a lush oasis, luring thousands of animals to feed on newly sprouted vegetation. Predators follow this migration, creating opportunity for exceptional game viewing excitement. This region is extremely desolate and camps are few and far between, allowing for an exclusive experience.Visit Botswana!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyTWFyY2glMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFMarch – TanzaniaMost people that wish to visit Tanzania go to see the Great Migration. It is a constantly moving and changing event, providing opportunities throughout much of the year for exceptional wildlife viewing. We are quite partial to March however, as it is the calving season. During this time, upwards of 250,000 wildebeest calves are born on the Serengeti Plains, which is magical to witness. There is also incredible predator activity on the plains due to the abundance of available food.
The Migration follows the rains. The animals are constantly seeking fresh grass, and follow the seasonal rains throughout East Africa to find the best areas to feed. As a result, the Serengeti is painted with green grasses and beautiful wildflowers dot the landscape. There is no other time of year more beautiful to visit Tanzania.Visit Tanzania!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyQXByaWwlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFApril – MoroccoSpringtime, especially April and May, is one of the loveliest times to visit Morocco. It’s not too hot and not too cold, and that’s saying something in a country that has Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains, and everything in between. For most travelers, April’s mild weather makes visiting famous destinations like Fez, Marrakech, and Casablanca all the more enjoyable.
But in April another type of visitor descends on the country—extreme athletes participating in the famous Marathon Des Sables (a.k.a. the Sand Marathon or MDS). The week-long MDS takes place in the harsh Moroccan desert where participants battle extreme conditions on a multi-stage adventure race, made more difficult by the fact that all competitors must carry whatever they need to survive, apart from water and a tent, which are provided. Attracting the most extreme athletes, this marathon was ranked by the Discovery Channel as the ‘Toughest Footrace On Earth,’ and is said to be the equivalent of five and a half marathons.Visit Morocco!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyTWF5JTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==May – UgandaUganda is known as ‘The Pearl of Africa,’ and once you’ve visited, it’s easy to see why. With some of the most spectacular scenery on the continent, it’s hard not to wax a bit poetic. Uganda has swamps, lakes (Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa), rivers (including headwaters of the longest river in Africa, the Nile) and even snow frosted mountains sitting atop the equator. It also has an incredible amount of wildlife, and is perhaps most well known for being home to some of the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas.
The gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (even the name is poetic). Several habituated groups can be trekked from different locations around the park, and seeing these primates is one of the premiere wildlife experiences available anywhere in the world. So why May? Discounted gorilla permits are available, saving trekkers $150/person/trek! They do go quickly, so be sure to book early.Visit Uganda!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIySnVuZSUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmElM0U=June – South AfricaSouth Africa is probably sub-Saharan Africa’s best known destination, though what many people know of it is only the tip of the iceberg. Its cosmopolitan cities, historical and cultural sites, incredible cuisine and amazing scenery easily tempt as much as its prolific wildlife and beautiful lodges.
June is the perfect month to visit South Africa, as the dry season begins in this diverse destination. This means that the temperatures are cooler (early mornings can be frosty!) and that vegetation has died back, making game viewing easier and more interesting, as animals are competing for fewer resources.
Whale watching season also begins in June, giving whole new meaning to ‘big game viewing.’ Southern right whales can generally be found off the coast of South Africa from June through November, during their annual migration. Whales can be viewed on cruises, from small aircraft, and even along many of the beaches along South Africa’s southern coastline. They are known for the ‘Best Land-Based Whale Watching in the World.’Visit South Africa!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIySnVseSUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmElM0U=July – RwandaRwanda is a tiny gem in East Africa known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ for its beautiful mountainous terrain. Visitors can enjoy its natural beauty, visit museums and excellent restaurants in its capital city of Kigali, trek chimpanzees and other small primates in Nyungwe Forest, or see a variety of birds and plains game in Akagera Park. However, Rwanda’s most famous wild inhabitants live not far from Rubavu, in the Volcanoes National Park. This is the most well-known location for tracking the endangered mountain gorilla.
More than 20,000 visitors come to Rwanda each year to see the gorillas. July marks the Kwita Izina Naming Ceremony for new baby gorillas born in the preceding year in Volcanoes National Park, where Diane Fossey did her pioneering research and is now buried. The ceremony is a wonderful celebration of the gorillas and the direct, positive impact they have on Rwanda’s economy through wildlife tourism.Visit Rwanda!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyQXVndXN0JTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==August – KenyaThe Great Migration is a huge driver of visits to Africa, and no list of where to go would be complete without Kenya. In August, the Migration is on the move to Kenya’s Masai Mara, where the animals will repeatedly cross great and small rivers in search of fresh, sweet grasses. People sometimes call this the ‘National Geographic Africa,’ reflecting the incredible river crossing photos that many of have seen in the magazine’s pages. While a river crossing sighting is never guaranteed, visiting Kenya during August gives travelers a fighting chance to see the wildebeest and zebra attempting to cross the crocodile-infested Mara River.Visit Kenya!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyU2VwdGVtYmVyJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==September – MozambiqueEnjoy Mozambique’s pristine white sand beaches and warm, turquoise waters during September, the driest month of the year. Thanks to the bustling fish markets and gregarious locals, the country offers an array of tastes, sights, and sounds to delight all of your senses. The abundance of sunshine this month allows you to enjoy the diverse experiences – from snorkeling through colorful schools of fish and scuba diving the abundant coral reefs (look out for the elusive dugong!), to exploring the country’s growing National Parks. The Arab and Portuguese influences in its history can still be seen and experienced today in historic architecture and mouthwatering dishes prepared by talented chefs. Mozambique is a destination ideal for honeymooners, families, and scuba divers. It can also be the perfect beach combination with a wildlife safari, as September offers Mozambique’s best game viewing experience during the height of its dry season.Visit Mozambique!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyT2N0b2JlciUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmElM0U=October – NamibiaOkay – we admit – thinking of Africa and Oktoberfest in the same moment probably doesn’t happen very often. However, with Namibia’s German history, they have a thriving Oktoberfest celebration each October (Namibian style!). After 35 years as a German colony, Namibia chose to keep a few traditions around, with Oktoberfest being one of them. In many of Namibia’s larger towns and cities, travelers can find brewpubs with huge steins of German-style beers on offer, but a visit in October takes it to a whole new level. Expect lederhosen-clad locals, ‘beer-queen’ contests and German bands. Oh – and lots of beer.
October is also a tremendous month for viewing game at Namibia’s unique parks and conservancies, visiting its dramatic Skeleton Coast and climbing the world’s highest and oldest sand dunes. It’s a destination that has something for everyone.Visit Namibia!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyTm92ZW1iZXIlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFNovember – ZambiaZambia is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. Scenic and varied, it is home to myriad parks with abundant wildlife, and shares its border with Zimbabwe with a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Victoria Falls. What’s even lesser know about Zambia is that it is home to a wildlife migration with five times more animals than the Serengeti Migration – the Kasanka bat migration.
During November and December each year five million straw-colored fruit bats take up residence in one hectare of Kasanka National Park’s Mushitu Swamp forest. Watching the bats by day dispels many myths people associate with these nocturnal creatures, but dusk brings the most impressive display. For 25 minutes the sky is full of bats for as far as the eye can see, as they disperse over a 360 degree radius from the forest. It is a spectacle not to be missed and has been described as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacles if not the world’s.
Not to be outshone, Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park is home to the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent, and November just happens to be a prime month for wildlife viewing.
Finally, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” – November 16th is the anniversary of David Livingstone’s discovery of Victoria Falls. Livingstone was the first European to view the Falls in 1855, and the island he stood on as he witnessed the spectacle is now known as Livingstone Island.Visit Zambia!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyRGVjZW1iZXIlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNFDecember – ZimbabweIn December, treat yourself to a safari to one of Africa’s forgotten gems – Zimbabwe. You’ll practically have the country to yourself this month, as there are still few visitors as compared to its popular neighbors. Zimbabwe is home to the best views of Victoria Falls, plus another Zambezi River reserve, Mana Pools National Park. It also hosts the game rich Hwange National Park and Matobo Hills National Park (the resting place of former Rhodesia’s namesake, Sir Cecil John Rhodes), as well as the lesser known Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, bordering South Africa. This once-great safari destination is in the midst of being reborn, so plan your visit now before the throngs return.
Zimbabwe’s vast plains and mighty rivers are teeming with wildlife, including the coveted Big 5, which offers you some of the best wildlife encounters in all of Africa – not to mention that some of Southern Africa’s best guides hail from Zim. Apart from wildlife, you’ll be blown away by the vast history and culture that fills this landlocked country’s borders. Zimbabwe boasts 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Victoria Falls (aka Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning “The Smoke Which Thunders” in the local language) and the Great Zimbabwean Ruins, a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the Shona between the 11th and 15th centuries. We highly recommend a visit to Zimbabwe to enjoy the wide variety of activities, including game drives, walking safaris, canoeing, hiking, train rides, and more! We can also arrange a safari to privately owned properties whose tourism dollars go directly back into the local communities.Visit Zimbabwe!JTNDYSUyMGhyZWYlM0QlMjIlMjMlMjIlM0VCYWNrJTIwdG8lMjBUb3AlM0MlMkZfYSUzRQ==