Why travel in February to East Africa : It really depends on what you want to see, do, and experience that determines the best time of year to visit East Africa.
Travelling between March and May (the first wet season of the year) means you’ll have to search a little harder for wildlife because the deep undergrowth makes it tougher for animals to hide, but the landscapes will be a vivid green. This is a lovely time to visit if you don’t mind a few showers each day (and the rare torrential storm).
The Great Migration, during which tens of thousands of wildebeest travel through East Africa from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in search of food and water, takes place from July to October (learn more about the Great Migration here).
The busiest season is from June through October, which is often dry and cool. The second wet season begins in late October and lasts until December. The area experiences its first dry spell of the year in January after the rains stop.
So when’s our favorite time of year to visit East Africa, February. This is why.
- It’s the driest time of the year.
Therefore, it’s among the best seasons of the year to watch animals. The animals must go longer in search of water, and the sparser foliage makes it harder for them to blend in. A safari across the savanna will reward you with sightings of giraffes, elephants, and gazelles, while a journey through the forest will provide an unforgettable safari encounter with mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Its shoulder season.
The cost of travel is lower, and you won’t have to spend more for lodge or activities (also, most places have finished their school breaks, so there won’t be as many people around). Without the throng, it’s far nicer to watch animal antics on the Serengeti, visit an elephant refuge in Kenya, or spend the night with a Maasai warrior clan.
- It’s hot during the day.
The weather is ideal for taking advantage of the swimming pools at hotels and guesthouses as well as the top-notch beaches, with temperatures about 30 degrees Celsius. Play about in the Indian Ocean’s shallows in Zanzibar or take a bath in Djibouti after a day of touring. Oh, and returning to winter in the Northern Hemisphere with a tan is also not a bad idea.
- Balmy in the evenings.
There is a fantastic outdoor nightlife in many East African cities; consider rooftop bars, beer gardens, and outdoor dining options. Together with some mandazi (a deep-fried ‘donut’ that is sweet and mildly spicy), order a Tusker beer, and sit in for an evening of travel tales with your fellow intrepid travelers.
- You can spot a different Great Migration.
While the ‘official’ Great Migration begins in July, when herds of wildebeest and zebras travel across the Serengeti, you can spot migrating whale sharks in February along the coasts of Tanzania and Kenya (in Djibouti, you can even go snorkeling with them!).
- Why travel in February to East Africa : And it’s a great time for bird watching.
In East Africa, there is always a good time of year to see birds, but from September to April, migratory birds from Europe and North Africa travel south to breed and take advantage of the warm (and dry) climate. Expect to encounter willow warblers, northern wheatears, and barn swallows in addition to magnificent native species like lilac-breasted rollers, white-headed vultures, flamingos, and ostriches.
- Why travel in February to East Africa : Calving season starts.
A trip to Serengeti during the calving season is an amazing adventure. Every year, tens of thousands of zebras and gazelles give birth in February, along with thousands of pregnant wildebeest (it is estimated that 8000 newborn wildebeest are born every day during the month). In addition to getting to view hundreds of adorable young animals, you’ll also get to see the circle of life in action as hungry predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas pounce on prey that will make for simple meals.
- Best time to hike Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 5985 metres, is a well-liked destination for ardent climbers. When you climb in February, the slopes are dry and it’s far less crowded than during the busiest months of June to October. Additionally, it is cooler than in the summer, and the higher you go, the more probable it is that you will run into snow.