August is quite simply one of our favourite times to safari in Southern Africa. The month heralds the end of our dry winter season and offers world-class game viewing and lovely weather. You can expect pleasant, sunny days and cool evenings spent watching an abundance of animals. You will want to pack warm layers to wear on your early morning game drives and peel them off as the day heats up.
As seasonal waterholes dry and the vegetation thins, large concentrations of animals gather around water in the region's national parks. The African bush has little vegetation to obscure viewing and it has that typical appearance you may associate with the African savannah- dry grass, vibrant sunsets and plenty of large animals.
In particular, the Chobe National Park and South Luangwa National Park, with their epic rivers, come into their own. The density and variety of animals around the Luangwa River is unparalleled. In South Luangwa, where the walking safari originated, the cool weather, sparse vegetation and good visibility make August the perfect time for a walking safari.
In the dry season, the Chobe River boasts the world's highest concentration of elephants. Chobe National Park offers the added benefit of wildlife viewing by boat as buffalos, giraffes, elephants, and even predators are drawn to the riverbanks.
August is also a great time to visit the spectacular Victoria Falls, which is best viewed from June to September when the water level is lower than at other times of the year. This allows you to view the waterfall unobscured by heavy spray. The low water levels also herald the opening of other river-based activities, such as the white-water rafting season on the Zambezi and swimming in Devil’s Pool on the lip of the waterfall.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
South Luangwa is a vast wildlife sanctuary known for its unparalleled variety of wildlife. In the dry season, this variety is matched by numbers, with some of the densest concentrations of animals anywhere in Africa. In August, the incredible wildlife sightings are coupled with cool, dry weather and make for an exceptional safari experience. The low numbers of mosquitoes also reduce the risk of malaria.
A highlight of South Luangwa is ditching the confines of a safari vehicle and immersing yourself in the wilderness on a walking safari. The cool days and increasingly thin vegetation in August make it the perfect time for walking. Your armed guide will reveal a wealth of knowledge as your senses tune in to the crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of wild sage and the sun warming your back. Meandering on foot through one of Zambia’s most remote wilderness areas while accompanied by an expert guide is a unique and life-enhancing experience.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The Victoria Falls is the world's largest curtain of falling water, and a spectacular sight at any time of year. However, it is best viewed from May through September, when the dropping water levels in the Zambezi allow for spectacular views of the waterfall unobscured by heavy spray.
The dropping water levels in August usually herald the opening of two exciting activities on the river. White water rafting and swimming in the Devil’s Pool on the lip of the waterfall open once water levels are low enough for both to be done safely.
And for those who enjoy more sedate activities, this is a wonderful time for boat cruises on the Zambezi River or game drives in the adjacent national parks, as animals are drawn to the riverbanks with the dry weather and are easily seen.
Chobe National Park, Botswana.
In the dry season, the wide ribbon of the Chobe River and its floodplains offer a welcome respite for wildlife that gathers in huge numbers to slake their thirst. August is in the midst of the dry season and at the end of winter. This makes it the ideal time to visit Chobe National Park, as wildlife sightings are excellent, and it is not as hot as in September and October.
The concentration of elephants around the Chobe in the dry season is unmatched in Africa at any time of year. You will most likely see these majestic animals daily. In August, huge herds of buffalo and other animals start to congregate on the floodplains and islands, taking advantage of the sweet grasses found there. Lions follow prey species and exciting interactions often take place.
Game drives aren’t the only way to explore this wilderness. Boat cruises on the Chobe River offer relaxed animal sightings and phenomenal sunsets. You may even have the incredible experience of seeing elephants swimming across the channel alongside you.