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Where to go in Africa in September

September in Africa see temperatures climbing steadily and many safari destinations across the continent rapidly approaching their annual best.

In Southern Africa, winter’s crisp conditions are replaced by perfect ‘not-too-hot-not-too-cold’ weather. Safaris to Namibia and Botswana are very rewarding in September. Waterholes and riverbanks are crowded with animals and destinations such as Etosha National Park and the Chobe River deliver can’t-get-closer sightings of elephants. You also see plenty of alert swivel-eared antelope at the water’s edge: these large concentrations of game attract predators and your chances of seeing big cats and wild dogs in action are high.

Where to Go in Africa in September
A baby elephant enjoys fresh water from a man-made spring in the Chobe.

South Africa: the Western & Eastern Cape

It’s September in Cape Town and a massive off-shore migration is at its peak. Southern right whales have arrived from Antarctica, ready to mate and rest in the Western Cape’s waters. The city’s surrounding bays are studded with giant tails and the occasional explosion of a breeching male. Whales can be seen all along the coast from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape, though the most reliable sightings are enjoyed on the Whale Coast and the world’s shore-based whale-watching capital, Hermanus.

In a burst of colour, the Cape’s wild flowers begin to bloom in abundance, adding dashes of colour to the soft, green landscape. September is a great time to discover hidden gems on South Africa’s West Coast as well as the aptly named Garden Route. And, if you’re touring this famous route, you may as well carry on into the Eastern Cape where you'll find private game reserves bursting with elephant, lion and kudu in fields of spring flowers, framed by mountainous backdrops.

Where to Go in Africa in September
Boat-based whale watching allows you get up close to all the action.

How to do it:  Bushmans Kloof is an elegant retreat in the beguiling Cederberg Mountains, north of Cape Town. Popular with honeymooners, its stunning mountain backdrop and wealth of indigenous flora makes it a great destination for discerning, experienced travellers. Hillsnek is a tented safari camp set in the Eastern Cape’s Amakhala Game Reserve, a malaria-free, Big 5 destination where you enjoy game drives and boating.

Take the hassle out of arranging your own itinerary and enjoy the freedom of a self-drive tour: the Cape, Winelands, Whale Coast & Karoo Journey blends the Cape Winelands and the Whale Coast with a Big 5 safari and Bushmans Kloof; the Romantic Cape, Winelands & Whale Coast Holiday winds its way from Cape Town to the Garden Route, supporting local communities and conservation projects along the way. 

Where to Go in Africa in September
An Eastern Cape safari is fantastic for game viewing in September.

Masai Mara: Kenya

Shaking themselves dry from the river crossings, the migrating wildebeest fan out over the Masai Mara’s green pastures. Free from the dangers of croc-infested rivers, they now have to look out for the Mara’s big cats, which have been eagerly awaiting their return. This is where the wildebeest remain for a couple of months, grazing greedily before the journey back to the Serengeti.

Where to Go in Africa in September
A herd of buffalo in search of new grazing in the dry Mara.

How to do it:  Bushmans Kloof is an elegant retreat in the beguiling Cederberg Mountains, north of Cape Town. Popular with honeymooners, its stunning mountain backdrop and wealth of indigenous flora makes it a great destination for discerning, experienced travellers. Hillsnek is a tented safari camp set in the Eastern Cape’s Amakhala Game Reserve, a malaria-free, Big 5 destination where you enjoy game drives and boating.

Take the hassle out of arranging your own itinerary and enjoy the freedom of a self-drive tour: the Cape, Winelands, Whale Coast & Karoo Journey blends the Cape Winelands and the Whale Coast with a Big 5 safari and Bushmans Kloof; the Romantic Cape, Winelands & Whale Coast Holiday winds its way from Cape Town to the Garden Route, supporting local communities and conservation projects along the way. 

Where to Go in Africa in September
September's dry conditions mean great game viewing in the Mara.

Secret Tanzania: Tarangire, Ruaha & Katavi

With the last of the wildebeest checking out of the Serengeti by September, safari travellers to Tanzania could switch to the country’s lesser known but equally impressive reserves. Tarangire, Ruaha and Katavi National Parks aren’t household names but they deliver superb game viewing and are at their most rewarding in September.

Tarangire lies conveniently near Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, making a great combination with the two more famous destinations. Dry-season animal concentrations on the Tarangire River are among the highest in Tanzania and the park has a reputation for excellent elephant sightings.

Katavi National Park sees just a handful of visitors each year but has great concentrations of buffalo, elephant, hippo, crocodile and lion in and around its rivers. This abundance is mirrored at Ruaha National Park whose strikingly rugged landscape is home to Tanzania’s largest elephant herds, all the big cats, rare wild dogs and nearly 500 recorded bird species.

Where to Go in Africa in September
Game concentrates along river banks in the dry months, making for easier sightings.

How to do it: the 9 Day Tanzania, Tarangire, Crater and Serengeti is a honeymoon favourite with a can’t-go-wrong itinerary. Our Western Tanzania Fly-in Katavi & Mahale package opens with an intimate tented camp in Katavi before flying you to the Mahale Mountains for chimpanzee encounters and rainforest trekking. If you’ve got your heart set on a Seychelles or Quirimbas beach holiday but feel like a safari on the side, the 5-day Adventurer Fly-in Selous and Ruaha respite is a luxurious add-on adventure to Tanzania’s wildest game-viewing destinations. 

Where to Go in Africa in September
Katavi National Park is a prime spot to see rare wild dogs.

The Indian Ocean Islands

If you're based in the northern hemisphere, then September brings the prospect of winter, and it’s time for one last burst of sun, sea and sand. Down here in the south, September sees the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean purr like cats on a sunny window ledge. It’s one of the driest months for the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Mozambican Bazaruto and Quirimbas archipelagos, and daytime temperatures don’t dip very much below 28 C/83 F. If you’re a scuba diver or snorkeller, September is one of the best clear-water months in both the Seychelles and Mozambique.

With its exciting mix of top-notch resorts, golf courses, diving lodges and honeymoon hideaways, Mauritius is the quintessential got-it-all island destination. The Seychelles offers private islands, unspoilt reefs and one-of-a-kind accommodation, and, since it's accessible by air from Nairobi, the Seychelles is easy to add onto a Masai Mara Migration safari.

As for Mozambique, the far northern Quirimbas make a easy combination with a Tanzania safari (fly in from Dar es Salaam) while the southern Bazaruto Archipelago connects with South Africa’s Kruger National Park for a classic beach-and-bush holiday.

Where to Go in Africa in September
Blue skies + warm water + white sand + palms trees = ideal island escape.

How to do it: treat your kids to a holiday they’ll never forget: the Family kwaZulu-Natal and Mauritius break combines a South African Big 5 reserve with a Mauritius beach resort. Discerning travellers and honeymooners will love the Cape Town, Kruger and Mauritius journey – a fortnight of indulgence and romance at top lodges in Cape Town, Kruger and Mauritius.

It’s a similar 2-week itinerary on the Cape, Kruger and Mozambique tour, but you’ll enjoy self-catering freedom in Cape Town and the delights of Mozambique’s Benguerra Island. A different side to Mozambique is showcased on the Selous and Quilalea experience – you enjoy a safari in Africa’s biggest game reserve before escapoing to a very private island retreat in the Quirimbas. For a unique itinerary or honeymoon, the Vic Falls, Kruger and Seychelles tour introduces you to three of Africa’s iconic destinations: expect Big 5 game viewing, stunning scenery and a Crusoe-chic grand finale.

Where to Go in Africa in September
Combine your beach getaway with a thrilling safari experience.

How to do it: treat your kids to a holiday they’ll never forget: the Family kwaZulu-Natal and Mauritius break combines a South African Big 5 reserve with a Mauritius beach resort. Discerning travellers and honeymooners will love the Cape Town, Kruger and Mauritius journey – a fortnight of indulgence and romance at top lodges in Cape Town, Kruger and Mauritius.

It’s a similar 2-week itinerary on the Cape, Kruger and Mozambique tour, but you’ll enjoy self-catering freedom in Cape Town and the delights of Mozambique’s Benguerra Island. A different side to Mozambique is showcased on the Selous and Quilalea experience – you enjoy a safari in Africa’s biggest game reserve before escapoing to a very private island retreat in the Quirimbas. For a unique itinerary or honeymoon, the Vic Falls, Kruger and Seychelles tour introduces you to three of Africa’s iconic destinations: expect Big 5 game viewing, stunning scenery and a Crusoe-chic grand finale.

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Written by Dominic Chadbon. Connect with him on Google+.

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