The seasons of Botswana are much like the rest of southern Africa - generally cool dry winters and warm wet summers. In the majority if wilderness areas wildlife will concentrate in areas of permanent water as the dry season wears on but with the coming of the rains the wildlife disperses over wide areas due to the availability of surface water. In Botswana, however, nature does her own thing in some areas.
© Sunset at Leroo la Tau Lodge
Botswana Seasons - a visitor's guide
When travelling to Botswana
it is important to remember some important points regarding the climate. Winter days are warm but the nights can get very cold making it necessary to carry warm clothing for the evening and early morning game drives. Temperatures can court the zero degree mark at times.
During the summer months the days are hot and the nights are pleasantly balmy. October needs special mention in that it is the hottest month in Botswana
with temperatures touching the plus forty degree mark. Headgear and sunscreen is important for all months in Botswana
For the visitor Botswana is certainly a place for all seasons - with dramatic landscapes and wildlife interactions to be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Savute and Makgadikgadi
A dry season refuge for wildlife the Savute Channel suddenly dried up
almost three decades ago, turning the marsh that fed off its waters into open grassland. And it is to this grassland that one of the last remaining land migrations occurs in Africa when almost twenty thousand zebras move in to the lush grasses brought on by the rains.
So instead of dispersing, the herds gather on the Savute and the surrounding Mababe Depression in the summer months. During the dry winter months intense dramas play out at the three available water holes in the area making it a dramatic year round Botswana wildlife experience
. Predators of the Savute are renowned for their extreme behaviour.Savute Update:
In 2008 the Savute Channel began to flow again and the Marsh was flooded, changing the whole dynamic of the region. The migration still happens as it did but now it is in the dry season that wildlife concentrates on the Channel, attracted by the life giving waters. The artificial waterholes have been closed.
South of Savuti in the Makgadikgadi Pans a similar migration takes place where thousands of zebra and wildebeest move
into the Pans area after the rains as the new grass appears. Another fascinating aspect of the Makgadikgadi is the arrival of scores of flamingos in years of good rains.
The Great Flood of the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is unique in a number of ways - the world's largest inland delta, a delta in the middle of the Kalahari Desert - but it is in the dry season when the true miracle happens. The majority of the water in the Okavango comes from the highlands of Angola
almost two thousand kilometres away and, due to the lie of the land, the water can take up to six months to reach the delta system.
The floodwaters arrive on the dry floodplains
of the Okavango months after the last rains have fallen in the area. The contrast between the brown dusty winter landscape and the greens of the new flood are dramatic.
The other wilderness areas of Botswana are just as dramatic in their seasonal variations. Africa's largest elephant population gathers on the floodplains of the Chobe and Linyanti during the dry season and during the lush greens of the rainy season
the antelope give birth and the migrant birds revel in the time of plenty.
The Seasonal Extremes
The two images below, taken from just about the same spot in Tuli, demonstrate the difference between the Wet and Dry seasons.
After the Rains
Middle of Dry Season