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Where to go in August in East Africa

Is it just coincidence that August is the month when many people go on holiday and Africa becomes the perfect place to visit? In fact, there’s so much happening across the continent that travellers really are spoilt for choice: safari destinations feature the best game viewing conditions, while the beaches and tropical islands bask beneath warm, dry skies.

If you’re planning to visit Africa in August, the most important decision you need to make up front is: East Africa or Southern Africa. Although it's possible to combine these two regions, the safari experience in each one is so exceptional in August, that it's hard to do justice to them in one itinerary (or in one blog!).

In this blog we'll explore all that East Africa has to offer for an incredible Africa in August vacation. Read about Southern Africa in this blog.

Where to Go in August in East Africa - Intro
August in East Africa: best game viewing & postcard-perfect tropical islands.

The Serengeti and Masai Mara

In the north-west corner of Tanzania’s Serengeti Reserve, battle-scarred wildebeest herds push onwards, following the year-long migration route that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Having survived the jaws of the Grumeti River crocodiles, they must now run a similar gauntlet to cross the Mara River, whose crocs gather in silent packs as the drum of approaching hooves signals the arrival of the great herds. The lush green grazing of Kenya’s Masai Mara lies just beyond the river, an irresistable incentive for the wildebeest, who pile across the waters in an awe-inspiring spectacle.

To witness the wildebeest Migration in August, travellers can choose between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara or combine them into a can't-be-beaten itinerary. Explore on game drives, hot-air balloons and, if you choose a private concession, guided walks and night drives. August is one of East Africa's driest months and the temperature is a generous 27C / 80F, making it just about perfect safari weather. Want an East Africa safari in August? Book now – it's prime time and the best views and beds are booked up well in advance!

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Rekero Camp in Kenya: classic great herd vistas & superb local guides.
Where to Go in August in East Africa
Floor-to-ceiling windows at Lemala Kuria Hills keep you comfortable but close to the natural wonders around you.

How to do it: Set in the Serengeti’s game-viewing ‘honey pot’ and just 20 minutes from the Mara River, intimate, 9-tented Kimondo Camp boasts on-your-doorstep Migration viewing. Lemala Kuria Hills offers a similar location plus contemporary, glass-fronted suites and private pools. And for a safari that would have made Hemingway happy, try Serengeti Safari Camp or Serengeti Under Canvas – mobile tented camps that move with the Great Migration.

In the Masai Mara you need to stay at camps close to the Serengeti border to catch the action in August. Set in a big-cat hotspot near the Mara River, Rekero Camp has a reputation for excellent guiding while Little Governor’s Camp and Olonana are two secluded camps on the river itself. Both are great for honeymooners as well as families and small groups, but for the ultimate in Mara magic, try a personalised safari at 4-tented Mara Toto.

Where to Go in August in East Africa Rekero 2
Abundant wildebeest mean abundant predators: Rekero Camp is a prime spot for big cats.

South Central Serengeti, Tanzania

Head to the south and central Serengeti in August for game viewing that is just as intence as the Migration drama in the north, but without the peak-season crowds. In August, the Serengeti’s sprawling southern and central savannahs are full of resident wildlife but in a setting that is far more private and exclusive.

The south-central Serengeti experience is not limited to game viewing either. Several lodges lie in private concessions, which means a range of fantastic activities are offered, incluidng visits to Maasai villages and walking safaris with local guides and trackers.

How to do it: Lemala Ewanjan offers tented luxury in the southern Serengeti’s game-rich Seronera Valley, which is renowned for its lion and cheetah populations. Dunia Camp and Serengeti Pioneer Camp are tucked away in hillside locations looking out over the central Serengeti plains while Kusini has an off-radar location in the Serengeti’s deep south. All camps offer a range of safari activities, including hot-air ballooning, which is rightfully at the top of many bucket lists!

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Lemala Ewanjan: begin your day with a dawn hot-air balloon ride & end it with convivial dinner conversation.

Safari and Beach Holidays

Who wants to choose between a safari and a tropical island holiday when you can have both? August is an ideal time to combine 'bush and beach', with both East Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands in their prime.

It's a popular time to be in both destinations, so minimise the impact of the crowds on your vacation by choosing your destinations carefully. The Serengeti and Masai Mara are fantastic for safaris in August, and we recommend choosing a private concession for an exclusive - and much richer - game viewing experience. Alternatively, choose a more unusual safari destination: Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve is bigger than Denmark and home to the greatest numbers of lion and buffalo in Africa, plus tens of thousands of elephant. It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for over 30 years but most people have never heard of it. Selous (pronounced ‘Se-loo’) still only receives a mere one percent of Tanzania’s annual visitors, making it a superb safari destination, especially in August when the more famous reserves are positively heaving with visitors.

As for beaches, the Indian Ocean is dotted with idyllic archipelagos. The Eden-like Seychelles basks in warm and dry weather; any of Mozambique’s Quirimbas Islands boast an average of nine hours of sunshine a day, and Zanzibar ranks August as its driest and best dive month of the year, not the least because it’s whale shark season.

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Combine diving in Zanzibar with thrilling game encounters in the Mara.

How to do it: The Remote Selous and Mozambique Experience is a chance to discover two of Africa’s less-visited but hugely admired safari and beach destinations. You enjoy game viewing by 4X4 and boat from the vantage of a riverside lodge in the Selous Reserve before flying to Vamizi, a private island in the Quirimbas. The Mara Safari and Magical Seychelles blends an Out of Africa camp in the Masai Mara with three nights each on a different Seychelles island, while the Luxury Mara, Serengeti and Zanzibar is a 2-week extravaganza that combines Great Migration game viewing with a private villa on  Zanzibar. This once-in-a-lifetime tour includes two nights at the Ngorongoro Crater, an extraordinary safari destination and one of the seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Ideal combination: tropical escape to Vamizi & big game thrills in Selous.

Gorilla Trekking – Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo

Africa’s most superb wild encounters include meeting magnificent creatures close up. We swim with whale sharks, track breeding herds of elephant and sit with 200kg silverback gorillas. These experiences are often life changing - perhaps it’s the ultimate way for us to reconnect with the natural world.

Gorilla trekking often leaves travellers with a heightened sense of who we are, as members of the primate evolutionary branch, and that we are not alone in the many gestures and traits we consider quintessentially human, such as affection and humour.

Gorilla hotspots like Uganda’s Bwindi Forest, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and the Congo’s Odzala National Park all boast prime trekking conditions in August. The weather is cool and at its driest, making trekking easier and much more comfortable than other times of the year. 

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Gorilla trekking in the Congo is about as rugged & wild as it gets.

How to do it: The Amazing Rwanda Gorilla Adventure kicks off with a classic gorilla trek in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park before continuing the adventure at Uganda’s two best gorilla destinations: Mgahinga and Bwindi. Batwa Pygmy culutral encounters, volcano hikes and bird watching add layers of richness to this safari experience.

If you want authentic adventure off-the-beaten track, you’re looking for Odzala National Forest in the Congo. The Explore Congo safari is one of Africa’s newest and most unique experiences - spend a week exploring two distinct areas from two different lodges, blending gorilla trekking at Ngaga, deep in the jungle, with adventure activities like kayaking in Lango bai's waterways.

Where to Go in August in East Africa
Trek to see western lowland gorillas from Ngaga jungle lodge.

Africa in August is simply ideal!

Popular beach destinations and famous game reserves are rightfully busy, with the best weather and game viewing on offer. Great Migration safaris and gorilla treks book up well ahead of August, and we recommend that you plan at least a year in advance if you want the best of East Africa during high season. Your reward will be front row seats to Nature's greatest spectacles from the vantage point of Africa's leading private conservancies at the best time of year.

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

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