The best time to visit the Kruger National Park
The good news is that there’s no bad time to go on a Kruger National Park safari. The park goes through various seasonal fluxes, and each transformation brings forth its own set of attractions. In summer, the sun and the rain compete for control of the land, thunderstorms electrify the afternoon sky, and baby animals are born. In autumn, browns replace greens as the land becomes parched, and the rutting season commences. In winter, wildlife encounters are heightened by sparse vegetation – a lack of water forcing animals to congregate by the waterholes. And finally, spring, the height of the drought, when game viewing excels, and the first rains tiptoe forth.
November to December
The summer months are hot and humid with continual rains or afternoon thundershowers, which generally clear before the game drives depart. Lots of young animals are born during this time, notably the impala lambs, which are beautiful but vulnerable to predators, which makes for exciting game viewing potential. Many migratory species of birds start to arrive in the area.
January to March
These months mark the height of the rainy season, with the weather remaining humid. Early morning drives with early returns to escape the heat are typical, along with dramatic thunderstorms creating superb backdrops for that quintessential safari landscape photo. The landscape is beautiful with many plants flowering and Marula trees fruiting. Animals are generally spread out over wider areas because water is plentiful.
The vegetation changes from thick lush green bush to a slightly sparser browning bush during this autumn period. The temperatures cool down at night but daytime is still warm. Potential scattered thundershowers can be experienced in the afternoons. Most animals are in peak condition. It is also the beginning of the impala, wildebeest and warthog rutting season.
May to June
Autumn gives way to winter and the rainfall drops off dramatically. Cold temperatures are experienced at night and at dawn during the winter months. Large herds of elephant are very mobile. The vegetation becomes totally brown and trees lose their leaves, making it possible to spot leopards lurking in the top branches. Game visibility improves on the ground and above in the trees.
July to September
This period is very dry in the bush with cold night temperatures and it's therefore chilly during the early morning and late afternoon game drives. Warm clothing is recommended such as gloves, scarves, beanies and insulated jackets. Layers are recommended rather than thick jackets as day time temperatures are generally warm. Game begins concentrating around waterholes. Game viewing is generally fantastic and the visibility is good as the bush thins out.
September to October
Spring is the height of the dry season boasting hot dry winds and colourless, sparse vegetation. Because the rivers and dams are low, high concentrations of game can be viewed at these areas and game viewing in general is very good. The first rains may start towards the end of October when the signs of spring and a new wet season are evident.