In September, things are really starting to heat up, both literally in terms of temperatures and figuratively on the game viewing front. There has been no rain for close to 5 months in most of Southern Africa and the weather is rapidly warming, although not yet at its hottest. This results in animals gathering in large numbers near permanent water sources such as rivers.
As seasonal waterholes dry and the vegetation thins, large concentrations of animals gather around water in the region's wild areas. Brilliantly coloured carmine bee-eaters and other migratory birds begin returning for the summer.
The rocky face of the Victoria Falls begins to show as water levels drop and the length and breadth of the falls are unobscured by heavy spray at this time of year. Lower water levels mean that swimming in Devil’s Pool on the lip of the waterfall is usually possible now and animals can be more easily seen along the river.
The Okavango Delta lies in the midst of Botswana's dry Kalahari Desert and sustains a variety of animals in a setting of spectacular natural beauty. In September, floodwaters are subsiding and animals are congregating around the life-giving water. You can still take part in water-based activities such as taking a traditional dugout canoe ride in many areas. This is the best time of year to spot elusive predators as vegetation is sparse and they follow their prey animals.
In Mana Pools, often described as a veritable garden of Eden, the dry weather thins the vegetation and wildlife concentrates near the Zambezi River, making animals easier to find. You can expect huge concentrations of animals and forests of giant Albida trees, all with the spectacular backdrop of the broad Zambezi River and hazy mountainous escarpment beyond.
September is one of the best months of the year to visit Victoria Falls. It's not yet too hot, the falls on both sides of the channel are flowing, but at low enough levels that spray will not obscure your view, and animal watching and white-water rafting are both fantastic.
The dry season, which runs from June to September, is ideal for combining a Victoria Falls trip with a safari. In September, the temperature warms, animals congregate around life-giving water and the foliage thins, making animal viewing easier. There will be excellent game watching, warm days, little to no rain, and good amounts of water tumbling over the cliffs of Victoria Falls.
The mighty Zambezi is wide and tranquil above Victoria Falls. It's the perfect spot for a relaxing sundowner boat ride or canoe trip to see the river's birds and animals up close, or even afternoon tea on an island perched right on the edge of the Falls. Elephants can often be seen on the riverbanks and on the islands. Safaris in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park adjacent to Livingstone Town are very rewarding now.
Because the water level has decreased to safe levels in September, activities such as swimming in the Devil's Pool and rafting on certain white-water rapids are typically open by this time of year.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Okavango Delta spills into the parched Kalahari Desert and provides a unique haven for a diverse range of animals. September is one of the finest months for wildlife watching, walking, and even horseback safaris in the delta. As seasonal water sources like rain-fed waterholes dry up, animals are attracted from afar to this enormous freshwater wetland in the midst of the desert.
Summer in the Okavango Delta begins in September, with temperatures rising steadily until the rains arrive in November. The days are hot, bright and sunny, with magnificent sunsets due to the dry weather and dust. Temperatures are steadily rising at night, and daytime temperatures are beginning to skyrocket.
If you can take the heat, you'll be rewarded with some of the greatest game watching in Africa. Huge herds of animals, as well as their ever-present predators, congregate around scarce water and grazing resources. The Okavango Delta supports large concentrations of birds and animals at any time of year, but in September and October more so than ever.
The Okavango Delta's water levels are gradually decreasing in September. The waning flood could affect dugout canoe trips near the end of the month. The southern areas are the first to dry out, so go north and east if this activity is important to you.
Little Sable, NOW OPEN!
Mana Pools, Zimbabwe.
Mana Pools offers breathtaking views of the Zambezi River and the Rift Valley Escarpment across the water. It includes a diverse range of ecosystems, including floodplains, woodlands, and riverine forests, and is remote, wild, and incredibly picturesque. The Zambezi River's waters, and several oxbow lagoons, act as a wildlife magnet.
During the dry season, elephants, eland, impala, buffalo, waterbuck, and other animals can be found in large numbers on the lush floodplains. There are also a good number of lions, leopards, and wild dogs. The Zambezi River is home to massive crocodiles and big pods of slumbering hippos, and Mana boasts magnificent birdlife that reflects the many ecosystems.
Mana is renowned for its amazing walking safaris as well as river-based safaris that feature a combination of boating and fishing. If there was ever a spot to explore beyond a game drive vehicle, while accompanied by some of the continent's best guides, this is it.
Zambezi Expeditions, Mana Pools