It’s November in Africa and the sun is setting later and rising earlier – summer is on its way! Now is the time to go on a beach vacation because Africa’s tropical island destinations – like the Seychelles, Mauritius and Zanzibar – offer some of the best beach vacations in November. And if you’re thinking of going on a safari, choose your destination carefully: the start of summer also means the start of the rainy or Green Season in many African safari destinations.
Botswana, the Kruger National Park, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia are caught between the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy one, and the animals are on the move. The massed elephant, buffalo and antelope that packed October's waterholes and rivers are dispersing in search of the fresh grazing, triggered by early summer rains.
November is in between the peak game-viewing season and the busy Christmas period, which means travellers can pick up great value deals in some of the best safari holiday destinations in November. In prime destinations, the game viewing is great year-round, birdwatching is excellent, and the peak season crowds are absent.
In East Africa, the November rains trigger the start of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring annual cycles: the Great Wildebeest Migration. From their grazing grounds in Kenya’s Masai Mara, the vast herds head south to the southern Serengeti, making Tanzania the best place to travel in November to see the Migration.
Since 1998, we’ve been planning unforgettable African holidays for thousands of travellers from across the globe. Here are our best recommendations for where to travel in November 2023…
Central & Southern Serengeti
It’s not easy being an East African wildebeest. After a couple of months' rest in the Masai Mara, the scent of rain from the Serengeti plains signals that it's go time. They must now take a deep breath, and rumble over the border into Tanzania in November to enjoy fresh grazing on the Serengeti's rolling southern grasslands and central plains – the best place to travel in November if you want to witness the Great Migration.
Waiting patiently for the wildebeest to arrive are the Serengeti’s apex predators. The Seronera Valley, for example, has the biggest lion prides and is said to be home to Africa’s greatest concentration of cheetahs. Wild dogs and hyenas are regularly seen chasing down straggling wildebeest, while leopards lie in wait for unwary gazelles.
How to do it: the Wildebeest Migration depends on shifting seasonal patterns and is not an exact science. The precise timing of the arrival of the herds depends on local rainfall, so it’s wise to have a couple of destinations on your itinerary. We’ve helped many travellers to be in the best possible place at the best possible time – get our expert planning advice and specialist tips in our beginner’s guide to a Wildebeest Migration safari.
Things heat up nicely in Zanzibar in November. And although it’s the start of East Africa’s short rainy season, this Indian Ocean tropical island loses an average of only nine days in November to rain – leaving you plenty of sunny days to spend on the beach or exploring historic Stone Town, the island’s cultural heart.
It’s great underwater too! Scuba divers enjoy some of Zanzibar’s best underwater visibility in November, as well as the chance to swim with gentle giants. November is whale shark season, and they are commonly seen in the archipelago’s waters at this time of year. Zanzibar offers one of the best chances for intrepid divers to swim with the biggest fish in the ocean.
How to do it: if you’re torn between a safari and a beach vacation, do both! Tanzania is home to the legendary Serengeti and the tropical island of Zanzibar, making it easy to combine the two without crossing borders. A Wildebeest Migration safari in the Serengeti is action packed and the days can get rather long. That’s why we always recommend crowning your safari with some R&R on a tropical beach – and Zanzibar offers some of the best beach vacations in November!
Masai Mara & Samburu
So, if the wildebeest have started heading south into Tanzania, why would Kenya in November be any good? The answer is easy: November is a great time to experience a crowd-free Kenya safari.
As good as the Masai Mara is in its prime months (June to October), the national reserve can get rather full of visitors. And it's important to know that the Mara's resident animals do not move with the herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra – which makes for superb game viewing year-round! The Mara's resident game includes plenty of favourites like elephants, big cats and giraffe.
If you choose to base your safari in one of the private conservancies bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve, you will most likely have the place to yourself and may even enjoy this exclusivity at lower rates. It's a great time to combine several attractions in one safari – Kenya in November is a diverse and rewarding destination.
How to do it: we recommend combining the Masai Mara and Samburu on your Kenya itinerary. Samburu is a phenomenal wildlife region that announces Kenya’s vast northern deserts and is the traditional homeland of the Samburu people: semi-nomadic pastoralists of north-central Kenya.
3. South Africa
South Africa in November delivers an average of nine hours of sunshine a day. Cape Town’s most popular attractions like Table Mountain, Cape Point, and Boulders Beach's endangered African penguin colony are mostly uncrowded in November. And if you’re lucky, you might still see a few late-season southern right whales off the coast. It’s a great time to make the most of the Cape Town’s best experiences before the local school holidays start.
How to do it: it’s quite easy to rent a car and spend a couple of days in Cape Town. You can drive yourself around the world-famous Cape Winelands, then head even further through the gorgeous Garden Route to the Eastern Cape safari region, stopping off at luxury guesthouses and boutique hotels along the way. Not only is the Eastern Cape a malaria-free safari destination, it’s also the best place to travel in November if you want to enjoy a Big 5 safari in South Africa without much rain.
4. Indian Ocean Islands
Mauritius is arguably the best tropical place to visit in November if you’re looking for a family-friendly beach vacation. The island’s sunny shores have been a firm favourite for family holidays for years. Many of the beach resorts feature babysitting services and on-site kids’ clubs, which means that you can slip away to dive coral reefs or play a round of golf, confident that your youngsters are having a great time under professional supervision.
It's summer and the days are hot and humid in Mauritius in November. Expect some of Africa’s best beaches, ocean-fresh seafood and long, sun-drenched days in a tropical paradise.
The sensational islands of the Seychelles Archipelago are seriously tough to beat if you’re looking for the best beach vacations in November. Set against the Indian Ocean’s azure waters, with only granite boulders or the occasional cluster of palm trees breaking the long runs of white sand beaches, the Seychelles offers you the chance to live out your tropical island fantasy in world-class luxury.
The islands usually enjoy beach-perfect weather year-round, but the Seychelles is where to travel in November if you want to enjoy crystal-clear diving conditions.
How to do it: Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International Airport are major flight hubs that can connect you to Mauritius or the Seychelles. That means having a tropical beach grand finale after an action-packed safari in Kenya or South Africa is piece of cake!
Ready to Plan Your Trip to Africa in November?
The big rains are yet to arrive and the Christmas season crowds are still thinking about what to pack. Africa is the best place to travel in November. You can go on a safari and enjoy all the advantages of summer sunshine and great travel deals – and still be home in time for a white Christmas!
Get in touch with our team of Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a trip that’s right for you: