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Africa In The Off-Season

No matter your destination, the off-season can deliver competitive travel packages that really seem too good to be true. This week we take a closer look at travel to the African continent in the off-season. Read on to learn the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to off-season travel…

What and When is Low Season?

The term “low season” refers to the period outside of the peak travel season, although the actual months depend on which area of Africa you intend to travel to. These months are often hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms and rainfall. The off-season travel times are as follows:

  • East Africa: Mar – Jun, Oct – Jan
  • South Africa: May – Aug, Dec – Jan
  • North Africa: Apr – Oct
  • West Africa: Mar – Oct

Fewer Crowds

During the peak seasons, keen safari adventurers flock from far and wide to see the spectacular wildlife of Africa. When water is scarce, animals crowd waterholes and result in a greater number of sightings. With this increase in sightings come crowds, and vehicles. If you’re looking to escape the throng of people all looking to check the Big 5 off their bucket list, the off-season could be a great choice for you. Lodges are much quieter and you may be the only vehicle at a sighting.

Discounted Prices

If you’re looking to save a few pennies, some lodges will offer discounted rates during the low season. If you are a solo traveller, some camps will also waive single supplements that may apply during the high season. For the budget conscious, a low season safari is a no-brainer!

Unique Experiences

With the rains comes grass, and grass means life! One of the greatest advantages of travelling in the low season is the opportunity to see baby animals, wobbly-legged foals and suckling elephants. The damp and humid climate of the wet season also means perfect conditions for frogs and reptiles, which are not seen as often during peak season.

This season is a birdwatcher’s heaven as migratory birds return in large numbers. Furthermore, photographers may want to seriously consider low season travel. The air is clearer as there is less dust and the stormy skies in the afternoon are absolutely breathtaking.

Depending on your interests, there may also be special occurrences during this season. If you’re an avid whale watcher, this is the best time to spot these majestic beauties off the coast of South Africa. Travel north and Victoria Falls is at its full flow, an impressive curtain of water cascading between the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Disadvantages

However, it’s not all rainbows and baby animals. If you’re considering travelling during the low season it’s important to keep a few things in mind. The weather is hotter and more humid, so if you don’t cope well with warmer climates this may not be the time of year for you. This weather also brings bugs, which can be become a real bother, especially in the heat.

The rains also mean thicker vegetation, which can make sightings more difficult. With more hiding spots and water available, animals will wander further from water holes. Whilst it doesn’t mean you won’t see anything, it simply means you may not see as many animals. Because of this, it is even more important that you stay in a reputable lodge and use a knowledgeable guide.

Finally, keep in mind that some lodges close during the rainy season. If you have your heart set on staying on a particular concession, make sure you double check that it is open.

Shoulder Seasons

If you’re undecided about whether to travel in the low or high season, there is a third option… The shoulder season refers to the months either side of the peak season leading into the low season. Although the weather can be unpredictable, if you want to escape the crowds and avoid the worst of the heat, this may be the perfect time for you!

References: Imagine Travel, Go2Africa, African Budget Safaris, African Travel Hub
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