In general, the best time to go on an African river cruise is during the dry season between May and October
, but when exactly in the dry season really depends on the specific river and area you’re planning on visiting.
The Chobe River/Victoria Falls
The Chobe River acts as a natural border for Botswana and Namibia. The best time to visit the Chobe River is during the dry season between May and October
due to increased wildlife viewing potential, fewer mosquitos, and fairly consistent temperatures with little-to-no rain. The later in the dry season you plan to visit (September is ideal) the more animals you are likely to see including the large herds of elephants, buffalo, and many predators including cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, and crocodiles. During the wet season between late November and early April
, animals are a lot less likely to go to the river for water, making them a lot harder to spot, especially from a cruise. The upside of the wet season is increased vegetation and you’re likely to see rare migratory birds both of which offer excellent photo opportunities. Additionally, between mid-December and November is calving season, which means you’re likely to see just-birthed wildlife, like a baby elephant which is truly an amazing sight. During calving season there is also a lot more predator action going on, which can be the most amazing sight for some people as you’re extremely unlikely to experience it again.
The best time to visit Victoria Falls is highly debated but it’s generally considered to be between June and August
because there are moderate temperatures, little rain, and plenty of water flowing. Additionally, these dates line up with the dry season offering better wildlife viewing along the way. Although the Zambia River is at its peak between March and May, this isn’t a great time to go as the large mist the falls give off almost entirely obscures your view of the Victoria Falls and offers poor photo opportunities. But Between October and December is the worst time to go for the opposite reason, the Zambia River is at its low point offering a considerably less breathtaking experience when visiting the falls.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana offers a wonderful cruising opportunity and an even better opportunity of seeing wildlife due to the many parks and reserves connected to it like the Chobe National Reserve, Moremi Game Reserve, and the Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp. The best time to visit the Okavango Delta is during the dry season, between May and early October.
This will maximize your wildlife viewing potential, minimize pesky mosquitos, and give you the most moderate temperatures overall. In the dry season, it can get pretty chilly in the early mornings and late nights so although it will be hot during the day, it’s recommended that you bring something to keep you warm. The wet season between November and April
also offers wonderful trips, you’re just not as likely to see as much wildlife, but you’re sure to see some. That being said, the advantages of going in the wet season are the vegetation is more plentiful and a lot greener offering breathtaking photo opportunities, it’s exponentially more likely that you see wild birds, and if rains are a worry, there’s mostly light rains and they don’t last very long (except for in January and February). It’s not recommended to go between January and February
, as this is the peak of the wet season so sometimes the rains can last for days on end, some camps and lodges will be closed during these months, and your chance of seeing wildlife is significantly reduced.
Nile River Cruise
The best time to take a cruise down the Nile River is between October and early April, with particularly ideal conditions in October and November
due to the extremely moderate temperatures.
Be sure to avoid between late April and early September
, as the temperature can be extremely high with averages up to 93℉ (33.9℃). Although cheaper fairs on cruises and lodging are offered at this time, it’s not worth it due to the heat and extreme
humidity. Between December and February is the high tourism season in Egypt, and crowds can get overwhelming for some, so be sure to avoid these months as the crowding can be extreme, although on a cruise that shouldn’t be a huge worry.
If you’re looking for an amazing river cruise, contact our travel experts at Adventure Life
now! They’ll help you arrange the perfect holiday with ease as you’ll have to worry very little about planning the trip.