Migration in June by Harvey Barrison

The Pros of Low Season Safaris in East Africa

Going on safari in Kenya and Tanzania during the off-peak seasons is a good option that does not spell game viewing disappointment and miserable weather.

In fact, travelling in the low seasons - the long rains from March to June and the short rains from October to December - is an enticing option. As the Lonely Plant’s Best in Travel 2016: The Best Trends, Destinations, Journeys & Experiences, puts it:

"...venturing out on a safari in the rainy season offers more than shaving off money and crowds. The wet seasons (March to June and October to December) also have luminous sunsets and plenty of animals nurturing their young – excellent reasons to brave the rain (which, by the way, is patchy rather than perpetual downfall)." 

Make it Kenya Maasai Mara in June - Make it Kenya

The shoulder seasons which fall between the low and peak periods offer similar advantages to the low seasons. Falling at the start and end of the rains, the shoulder seasons are often the best time to go on safari in East Africa in terms of balancing cost, game viewing, visitor numbers and weather. The shoulder season between the long and short rains - from January to March, is actually considered by some safari veterans to be the best time to go game viewing in Kenya and Tanzania. 

SarahTzZebras in March - SarahTz

5 Reasons to go on Safari in East Africa during the Shoulder & Low Seasons

1. Save Money

East Africa is not the cheapest of African regions to visit. As the traditional heartland of African wildlife safaris, the prices in East Africa are higher than in most Southern African countries. These higher costs can put budget conscious travellers off, but the good news is that prices drop during the off-peak times of the year, bringing these classical safari destinations within reach. One of the reasons prices fall is because mainstream travel advice is to avoid the rainy seasons and that winter game viewing is best. Also, most travellers tend to travel during the northern hemisphere summer and over Christmas and New Years.

You can save between 20 and 40% on safaris outside of the high and peak season.

It's not just the safari packages that are cheaper in low season, the accommodation rates drop saving you money on pre and post tour accommodation. Activities are also offered at reduced prices, as are day trips. If you're travelling independently in East Africa during low season you also have more leverage for bargaining and negotiating better deals too. Flights are also cheaper, due to lower demand! All-in-all it can make an otherwise too expensive African safari affordable.

2. Dodge the Crowds

Weldon KennedyMasai Mara in early December - Weldon Kennedy

One of the main drawbacks of going on safari in East Africa is that the world-renowned safari destinations of Tanzania and Kenya are often crowded. The legendary Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania are considered Africa's ultimate safari destinations (or at least amongst the top), which means tourist traffic is high.

By travelling in the atypical months (low and shoulder times) you can avoid getting stuck in a game viewing traffic jam and having to vie for space at wildlife sightings. 

Weldon KennedyMasai Mara in December - Weldon Kennedy

Travelling in the less-crowded rainy season makes for a more authentic experience - one that allows you to connect with the wild places and local people of East Africa. 

Daniel De Lapelin Dumont Maasai woman - Daniel De Lapelin Dumont

In the low season when there are fewer travellers at the game lodges and on the game drives, you get more time to appreciate the wildlife and savannahs in peace and engage with your guides and the people you encounter.

3. Go for the Baby Animals & Birds

Matt BiddulphMasai Mara cubs in April - Matt Biddulph

Many animals give birth in the wet seasons when food and water is plentiful. This is a great time to see wobbly legged fawns, foals and calves, and playful cubs and pups.

Erin UstunGazelle and foal in Masai Mara - Erin Ustun

Julian MasonElephant and calf in Amboseli - Julian Mason

This is also when flocks of migratory birds arrive for the wet summer season. The Great Lakes attract a bright and diverse array of birdlife - making low season a magical time for bird watching enthusiasts! Lake Nakuru attracts over 400 migratory bird species from across the planet.

Francesco VeronesiLake Nakuru birdlife - Francesco Veronesi

4. Pretty & Photographic Times of the Year

The rainy seasons offer excellent conditions for photography in East Africa's top game parks, which come alive with the rains. In the wet seasons the light is intense and moody, and the dramatic sunsets are spectacular. This is when the grasslands are green and the skies dramatic with billowing rain clouds. The showers settle the dust, leaving the air, landscapes and vegetation fresh, crisp and vivid.

Anja PietschSerengeti sunset in November - Anja Pietsch

During, in between and just after the wet seasons the scenery is at its most beautiful, as the dusty plains are transformed into lush grasslands. Photographic opportunities abound with frolicking young wildlife and migratory birds aplenty, as well as predators taking advantage of the abundance of prey.

tinman6Serengeti in shoulder season - January - tinman6

5. Superb Game Viewing & the Great Migration

The game viewing in East Africa, is spectacular year-round in many destinations, including Serengeti and Masai Mara.

Weldon KennedyMara lion in December - Weldon Kennedy

The good news is that with planning you can still see the Great Migration in action. The dates and durations of the seasons vary from year to year and so too does the timing and course of the Wildebeest Migration. In Tanzania the migration can be seen at any time of the year, so catching the spectacle depends largely on knowing where to be at the right time. 

Colin J. McMechanSerengeti migration in March - Colin J. McMechan

Over the past few years the massive herds of the migration have been arriving earlier and staying later in southern Kenya, which means that the Great Migration has been witnessed by out of season travellers. Catching the world-famous spectacle of the Great Migration in action, comes down to getting expert advice about timing and the right places to go, as well as luck. 

Vince SmithSerengeti migration in November - Vince Smith

Finding the Balance

The weather is warmer during the wet summer months, which is worth considering if you don't cope well with the heat. It does not typically rain continuously, but rather in short downpours that clear up after brief afternoon thundershowers.

To escape the crowds, try to avoid the peak seasons from the start of July to the end of October and over Christmas holidays if possible. If you're not convinced about the perks of low season travel then aim for the shoulder seasons which can offer the best conditions - all factors considered.

Vince SmithLow Season Crowds in November - Vince Smith

Charter Tours are ideal for taking advantage of lower off-peak prices, especially if you are travelling in a big group. Tailor-made safaris enable you to customize your itinerary in order to maximize chances of witnessing the migration, escape the crowds and choose exactly when to travel, along with heading off the beaten track in season or out.

If you liked this post, these trips cover similar ground…

Leave a Comment or Ask a Question

comments powered by Disqus

Places Mentioned in this Post

Similar & Related Blog Posts

Below you’ll find further reading and articles related or similar to this post.

Dan Travels to Tanzania’s Safari Lands & Zanzibar

Into East Africa Dan goes on a 10-day Bush & Beach Holiday that takes him to wild Tarangire, eerie Lake Natron, the legendary Serengeti, game-packed Ngorongoro Crater and on to the spice island of tropical Zanzibar. Read on

The One of a Kind Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya

Northern white rhinosKenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy is an outstanding wildlife gem - home to four of the world's seven remaining northern white rhinos, East Africa's largest black rhino sanctuary, the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees and more! Read on

Foster a Baby Elephant in Kenya

Kungu and StephenFostering an elephant or rhino in Kenya will only set you back about R500 (50USD) a year! The fostering process is run online so you can select from either the adult or baby elephants and rhinos on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s website. Read on

East Africa: A Bucket List

Derek KeatsA bucket list of places to see and things to do in eastern Africa. These are just a smattering of the incredible sights, sounds and activities that Africa has to offer. Start planning your trip here!  Read on

What are Africa Overland Tours all about?

Overlanding Africa Truck and clients at sunsetBesides the obvious, of travelling through Africa in a big safari truck...  What makes Africa Overland Tours special and different from other Budget African Safaris and holiday packages?   Read on

African Safari Vehicles - Every which way to explore the African bush, from biggest to smallest

Wajahat Mahmood So you're off on Safari through the wild and vast plains of Africa? What vehicles can you expect to be travelling in? Get a comprehensive overview here. From foot to Overland Truck, and everything between. Read on

What to Take on African Safaris - An Easy Guide to Packing

Pocket Knife by Stephen JenningsHere’s a handy guide to packing for your African Safari. A list of some indispensable items to take on a safari in Africa, as well as some handy extras to make your trip all the more enjoyable. Read on

How to Make the Most of your African Safari

ChantelleSBased on experience there are some things you can do (and not do) to make the best of your budget safari in Africa, such as... Read on

Thirteen things to do in Nairobi, before or after you go on safari

Gopal VijayaraghavanTravellers on safari in Kenya usually fly into its bustling capital, Nairobi, and fly out from there, too. Here we list ten fabulous things to do in this great city, pre- and post-safari. Read on

Top 6 Wildlife Apps for your African Safari

So there you are in the bush on safari in Africa and now you are wondering what animal you are actually looking at, or what on earth it is doing! Here are a handful of top mobile applications to help you get the most out of your safari, even where there is no internet access. Read on

Solo safari: why joining an African tour on your own could be your best holiday ever.

Single people know how difficult it can be to find someone to take a vacation with. Timing has to work, plus you have to agree on a destination. If not having a travel buddy is keeping you from seeing the places 
you’ve always dreamed about, don’t let it! Read on

See African Cats in the wild - Go to the Serengeti and Help Save the Savanna!

African Cats - Cheetahs Help Save the Savanna by booking one of our selected tours to Tanzania's Serengeti before the end of May 2011! African Budget Safaris will donate 3% of your Tanzania Tour's value to the African Wildlife Foundation's Amboseli Corridor Project aimed at saving the Savanna habitat of the African Cats and other wildlife along the Kenya-Tanzania border! Read on

6 Affordable Eco-Safaris in Africa - go ‘green’ on a budget

The good news: eco-tourism is not exclusively reserved for the luxury travel market. These are just a few of the affordable safaris with us that stay at eco-lodges, catering for the more environmentally aware and eco-savvy travellers. Read on

Cultural Africa: More Than Just The Big Five

Joachim Huber A short list of some of the cultural treasures that Africa holds. We're not just about The Big Five! Read on

Endangered Animals in Africa & How to Help

Laika acOn African Safaris you may be lucky enough to spot a few of these 11 endangered wild animals, roaming free. Face the facts about these endangered African wildlife species, and see how you can help to ensure their survival! Read on
Show us some FB Love
Follow @RealAfroSafaris