While many safari destinations in Africa tend to have a peak season over the winter months, the greater Kruger National Park is a year-round safari destination. Here’s why.
The first thing to note is that there is no real difference in pricing, with only a few lodges offering reduced rates or specials in the low season. Some properties have a flat rate for 2017, with no low-season or winter rates.
“For many years Greater Kruger considered May to September the low season, and it was common practice to offer winter specials during these months,” says Wild Wings Safaris Director, Onne Vegter. “In neighbouring countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe, June to October is traditionally the peak season, and the Greater Kruger is now also catching up to the fact that these months are often the busiest and most popular months for safari tourists.” Vegter says finding availability between July and September is an issue, especially at the lower end of the market.
He argues that the greater Kruger National Park is a year-round safari destination, adding that there are fewer differences between peak and off-peak seasons than in many other African game parks.
Some of the best months
“The truth is that the dry winter season is a great time to be on safari, and since it includes the European and American summer holidays, it is no secret that the peak safari season is between June and October,” says Nik Lloyd-Roberts. He points out that there is usually another peak season in December. “The lowest season in terms of visitor numbers is during the rainy season, between January and March.” However, Vegter points out that during these months, most lodges are still priced at high-season rates, with only a few offering lower rates.
According to Vegter, the advantages of traveling during the rainy months between January and March include fewer tourists and therefore less congestion at sightings, fantastic birding opportunities, and plenty of baby animals to see. “The bush is lush and green during this time, and there are often dramatic cloud formations and thunderstorms,” he says. Lloyd-Roberts also points out that the summer months offer a greener bushveld, which many visitors may enjoy.
January is also when the impalas give birth and visitors can also expect to see many other baby animals, like wildebeest, warthogs, monkey and baboons, says Vegter. “It’s cuteness overload! This is a time of abundance for both predators and prey, and therefore also a time of abundant sightings for the safari tourist.”
Vegter also points out that in May some lodges still offer low-season rates and it is not as busy as June to August. “It is the start of the dry season, the days are likely to be mostly sunny and warm, while the nights are chilly. Availability during May is usually good, and with fewer tourists, congestion at sightings is less of a problem,” he says.