Southern Africa’s best wildlife destinations lie under clear skies in June. Its cool evenings and crisp mornings take some visitors by surprise (bring warm clothes and dress in layers for game drives!), but in Southern Africa there’s very little rain between June and October – except along the Cape Town and Garden Route coastlines.
Less rain and water mean that wildlife concentrate around the last remaining rivers and waterholes, making animals very easy to locate. You can expect excellent game viewing in comfortable conditions – days are short so there’s no need to get up very early for morning game drives, and the rainy season’s mosquitoes and bugs have largely disappeared. Vegetation is sparse and thin, making animals easier to spot, and the high season’s tourist crowds are still about a month away.
Over in East Africa, things become very interesting in June. Some of Africa’s most sought-after wildlife events put their best attractions on display. This is a great time to combine an East African wildlife safari in Kenya or Tanzania with either gorilla trekking (Rwanda, Uganda or Congo) or an island getaway to Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania.
Since 1998, we’ve been curating African safari itineraries for thousands of travellers from across the globe. Based on first-hand experience, here are our best places to visit in June 2023…
1. Uganda, Rwanda & Congo
June to September is one of the driest periods in Africa's equatorial rainforests, making Uganda, Rwanda and Congo the best places to visit in June for gorilla trekking. In June, Uganda’s rainfall is a fifth of what it was back in March; in Rwanda it’s down to around 10 percent of March and April levels, with a similar drop-off of rainfall in Congo between May and June. There will be some rain, but it won’t feel like you are taking a day-long shower with rubber boots and a poncho on.
Uganda’s gorilla trekking safaris are usually a longer itinerary combining well with game viewing and chimpanzee trekking in other parks and reserves. Rwanda offers the option of exploring its beautiful capital, Kigali, then transfer to Volcanoes National Park a few hours away to trek for gorillas after breakfast the next morning. As one of Africa's newest and most exciting gorilla trekking destinations, Congo allows intrepid travellers to encounter western lowland gorillas in a truly wild and unspoilt Africa.
With easier trekking conditions and more sunlight for photography, June is made for gorilla trekking – see our extensive guide on the best places to see gorillas and how they compare.
2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
From about June, the migrating wildebeest herds arrive in the central Serengeti where they’ll start preparing for the toughest part of their odyssey: the river crossings. For the next month or so, the herds will start moving north, digging in on the banks of the Grumeti River and peering at the silent water.
Fresh grazing lies on the other side... and the wildebeest are hungry after their trek from the south. When the tension breaks, they begin crossing in ones and twos before the storm breaks and the herds pile across en masse. What follows next is Mother Nature at her most bittersweet.
Up to 5 metres (16 feet) long and weighing between 300 and 900 kilograms (660 and 2 000 pounds), the gargantuan Nile crocodile is one of Africa’s apex predators. Its form unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs, this huge reptile is armed with over 60 dagger-like teeth and its bite is one of the most powerful in the animal kingdom. Exploding out of the water like an armoured missile, crocodiles grab the paddling wildebeest in a spectacular display of nature at its most raw and authentic.
3. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
In life there’s always a 'but'. Here it is: the Serengeti river crossings are sensationally dramatic, but you will have to share the experience. It is one of the most eagerly anticipated episodes in the Wildebeest Migration (not least by the crocodiles) and well-sited positions on riverbanks are lined with game-drive vehicles.
Across the border in Kenya’s Masai Mara, things are decidedly quiet when it comes to two-legged visitors (everyone is in the Serengeti), but there are still copious resident animals to see. After crossing the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, the wildebeest herds will only arrive in the Masai Mara from around August, but the Mara is gearing up for their return: grass grows tall while predators sharpen their stalking skills. Elephant, giraffe and buffalo remain in the area all year, and the reserve’s big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) are plentiful and easy to locate in June.
The Masai Mara is where to travel in June for more comfortable conditions (the weather is cooler and drier than the previous few months) and a wider choice of accommodation than in August or September – when the massively sought-after Wildebeest Migration arrives. Choose between the can’t-go-wrong Masai Mara National Reserve itself, or head for one of the neighbouring private conservancies for a more exclusive safari experience and non-reserve activities like night drives and guided walks.
4. Kruger Park, South Africa
If you’re looking for almost guaranteed encounters with the Big 5, then the Kruger is where to go in June. South Africa’s biggest and best-known safari destination is home to the country's greatest diversity of wildlife, and the Kruger’s private game reserves deliver unparalleled luxury.
The dry winter months from May to October is considered the best time to go to Kruger for game viewing. The vegetation is low and sparse at this time of year, making the animals easier to spot and follow. June to August is a very comfortable time of year in the Kruger as the risk of malaria is low, there’s hardly any rain, and temperatures are pleasant during the day and refreshingly cool at night.
The Kruger’s private game reserves run along much of the national park’s western boundary. They are not fenced off from the park – which means animals are free to roam throughout – and include some of the most famous pioneers of the 'luxury safari' concept. Not only can you expect five-star accommodation and phenomenal guiding, but your chances of seeing the Big 5 are virtually guaranteed. They also offer fewer restrictions than in the national park, like guided nature walks and off-road game driving for extremely close up animal encounters.
5. Zanzibar, Tanzania
This is a destination made most famous for its beaches. Some of East Africa’s finest lie on Zanzibar and are easily accessed from family-friendly resorts, honeymoon hideaways and boutique lodges. And if your interest in oceans extends to what happens underwater, then Zanzibar is home to several top dive spots. The island’s northern reefs are the best places to visit in June if you’re looking for some of the best diving and snorkelling conditions of the year.
Ready to Plan Your Visit to Africa in June?
Get in touch with our team of Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a trip that’s right for you: