This is the fourth in a series of blogs aiming to give the reader an easy ‘at a glance guide’ of where to go in sub-Saharan Africa and get the best out of it – after all there’s no point in going to the Serengeti in August for the Great Migration or Hermanus in February for the Southern Right whales and wondering where they’ve all gone! And by the way the answers are, respectively, in the Masa Mara in Kenya and somewhere in the vast expanse of the Southern ocean near Antarctica.
Climate / Wildlife
Botswana – whilst September sees the end of the distinctly nippy winter nights – and the last of the annual Okavango floodwaters – October sees summer return with a vengeance. Daytime temperatures often approach 40C and quickly dry out the grasses; it’s a long two months until the summer rains arrive and until then game concentrates close to the Okavango’s permanent water channels. Elephants begin their northward migration to their usual summers haunts in the Linyanti region (and beyond) of the Chobe National Park.
The Kalahari is not really a hot spot for game in October, well not in the same way as the Okavango or Chobe, but sightings of predators are often excellent, especially cheetah, which are made for the wide open pans …………or perhaps vice versa. Also towards the end of the month, the first migratory birds will start arriving, as will the first of the summer rains.
My favourite camps to visit in the Botswana at this time would be Little Vumbura as it is located on a permanent water channel and offers the widest possible range of activities
Chobe Savanna Lodge, for its boutique feel and excellent location on the Chobe River – technically though the lodge is in Namibia!
Malawi – October see the last of the dry winter months as the humidity starts to build, along with impressive late afternoon clouds, towards the summer rains. There will be lots of false dawns with hugely impressive thunderstorms, before the clouds finally break from mid-November onwards.
The game within the major parks of Majete and Liwonde remain pretty static and will be easier to see at the end of dry season, with the grasses having died back.
Lodges on the lake-shore benefit from the cooling effect of on-shore breezes although these can get a little strong at times – great though for sailing and wind-surfing!
My lodges of choice would be:
Chintheche Inn, for rustic beach front charm.
Pumulani, for a more upmarket beach stay.
Namibia – this truly amazing country is largely desert being named after the Namib, the oldest desert on earth. October, like Botswana, can be exceptionally hot but in a different way. The heat is dry with almost no humidity, so you don’t get the uncomfortable feel that high humidity brings with it. You do though dry out quickly so lots of fluids are a must.
For the wildlife this is a tough time and comes at the end of the long dry spell. In the Etosha animals will congregate around the permanent water holes, whilst the desert adapted wildlife will tread well known routes to where some water may be found. Many perish.
The lodges I would visit would be:-
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, good at almost any time of year
Mushara Lodge, from where you can explore the Etosha
Zambia – the valley of the South Luangwa remains the place to be. With the arrival of October there is a sniff of a change in the air and the beginning of the end of the dry season. Times of plenty for the wildlife are just around the corner once more. October is the last full month of operation for many camps which need to be struck before the long rains arrive and many areas become impassable. Many camps though remain open and guests visiting these can experience the re-awakening of the park.
The Busanga Plains of the Kafue National Park offers its visitors a wide variety of and huge number of plains game from the common such as puku and lechwe to the rare with sightings of oribi, sitatunga and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. This attracts large prides of lion who have adapted to the hot months of September and October by climbing fig trees and lodge decks in search of cooling breezes
I’d visit either Nkwali in the South Luangwa
Victoria Falls will be close to its lowest point of flow so Mosi oa Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders)………..it more just coughs gently! Its sheer size is still amazing though.
5 Reasons to Travel to Africa in October
– experience a balloon flight over the Busanga Plains;
– see the large concentrations of diverse game around the waterholes in the Etosha;
– witness the high levels of predator activity in the Kalahari Desert;
– marvel at the orange moon rises over the Magkadigkadi Pans; and because
– Africa can reawaken your soul at any time of the year.
Africa – the continent for all seasons.