Johannesburg is Africa's economic powerhouse known to locals as Joburg, Jozi and Egoli (the ‘city of gold’). The city is modern and enormous, sprawling in all directions as the heart beat of commerce demands more offices, houses and malls. About 60 kilometres away lies Pretoria, which is the seat of administrative government in South Africa and a very pretty city with jacaranda-lined streets. Both of these urban centres are vibrant and cosmopolitan, linked by a fast-moving, multi-lane highway and the high-speed Gautrain, making it easy to explore the places that played a critical role in Nelson Mandela’s life story or which honour his legacy.
Timing is everything. If you want the best seats in the house, you need to book your place well in advance. When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime journeys to Africa’s vast playground, you definitely want to be in the front row seats for all the legendary spectacles.
Halfway through the year, Africa’s dry winter months arrive marking the start of safari peak season.
Botswana is generally a place of empty blue skies and boasts an enviable 300 days of dazzling sunshine a year. Thankfully around December, life-giving summer rains begin to fall, marking the start of the Green Season. The bulk of rain falls over January and February, and the landscape stays beautifully lush and green until about April.
Botswana is a year-round destination with an enviable 300 days of sunshine a year but anyone planning a safari should take note of the monthly changes in weather and the effect this has on the country's wildlife. For example, rainfall can trigger the zebra migrations, so an understanding of Botswana's seasonal nature is essential if you want your game-viewing expectations to be met. If you are planning a Botswana safari, read on and choose the month that's best for you:
The arrival of May during my northern hemisphere childhood promised the long, warm and sometimes sunny days of summer. South of the equator, however, things are heading in the opposite direction. Days are shortening and chairs are getting pulled a little closer to the campfire.
Botswana is undoubtedly one of the most incredible wilderness areas on earth. The south and east consist of the jaw-dropping Kalahari Desert and lunar-like pans at Nxai and Makgadikgadi. The north and west, on the other hand, comprise the dazzling water worlds of the Okavango Delta and Chobe River ecosystem.
Namibia is a land of endless blue skies, vast horizons and crisp mornings: pure joy for photography enthusiasts. It is also safe, clean and organized with an excellent infrastructure, making it a favourite destination for family vacations, especially self-drive safaris (that’s travel lingo for independant road tripping - an ideal way to vacation with teenagers).
April is when Africa’s great summer starts winding down and the year catches its breath before winter. Down in the sun-baked Western Cape, the city of Cape Town welcomes its first autumnal showers. Further north, safari destinations like the Kruger, Botswana and Zimbabwe emerge after months of heavy rain. Cloaked in green, they offer lovely scenery and birding but big game is often hard to find because water and grazing are so plentiful that they wander great distances.
There are the well-known and beloved classics of Africa: the golden plains of the Serengeti, the thundering hooves of the Wildebeest Migration, the splendour of Victoria Falls. And then there are the secret gems – the attractions that may not make it onto postcards but which are incredible natural phenomena that belong on every traveller's must-see list. It may take longer to reach them but, as if often the case, the reward is all the sweeter for the extra effort…