September in Africa sees temperatures climbing steadily and many safari destinations across the continent rapidly approaching their annual best. No matter where you travel in Africa between about June and October, you’ll be rewarded with sensational game viewing.
In Southern Africa, winter’s crisp conditions are replaced by perfect ‘not-too-hot-not-too-cold’ weather. Namibia and Botswana are excellent destinations for a safari 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.
Over in East Africa, the Wildebeest Migration’s herds are enjoying a well-deserved sojourn in Kenya after surviving their treacherous river crossings, which makes the Masai Mara one of the best places to visit in Africa in September. Tanzania’s lesser-known parks and reserves sees much less visitors so if you’re looking for uncrowded game viewing in supreme wilderness areas, destinations like Ruaha and Selous are great options for a safari in September.
Choosing the best places to visit in Africa in September depends entirely on what you’d like to see and experience. To make your decision a little easier, here are our best recommendations for where to go in September:
A massive offshore migration is at its peak along the coast of South Africa in September. Southern right whales have arrived from Antarctica, ready to mate and rest in the Western Cape’s waters. Cape Town’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, but the most reliable sightings are along Cape Town’s Whale Coast. The seaside town of Hermanus is where to go in September if you want to enjoy the best shore-based whale watching on Earth.
In a vibrant burst of colour, the Cape’s wild flowers begin to bloom in abundance, adding dashes of colour to the soft, green landscape. Cape Town’s West Coast is where to go in September to experience this gorgeous birth of Spring. Then head up the famous Garden Route to discover its pristine beaches, indigenous forests and quaint seaside villages. 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. The Eastern Cape is a malaria-free region and a fantastic option for a family safari in September.
Floodwaters arrive between May and October, making the Okavango Delta swell to three times its permanent size. Temperatures are mild and an abundance of wildlife can be seen; elephant, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, white and black rhino, African wild dog and lion all roam together in one place. The Okavango Delta is considered Africa’s Garden of Eden and one of the continent’s last true wildernesses. Gliding silently along its papyrus-flanked waterways in a mokoro (traditional canoe) – think of it as the Venice of safari – while enjoying close-up sightings of big game at the water’s edge is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The Okavango Delta is where to go in September for incredible game viewing in one of Mother Nature’s true masterpieces.
Home to our planet’s biggest herds of elephant, Chobe National Park is famous for its sensational dry season (May to October) game viewing. This is when ever-increasing numbers of water-dependent animals – especially elephant and buffalo – congregate along the banks of the Chobe River. Daytime temperatures increase between August and October but if you can handle the heat, Chobe is one of the best places to visit in Africa in September for unparalleled elephant sightings.
Namibia’s dry winter months of May to October are widely regarded as the best time to visit Namibia for game viewing – especially in its flagship Etosha National Park. The skies are clear, the risk of malaria is at its lowest, and colossal numbers of game are concentrated around the season’s last-remaining water sources.
Shaking themselves dry from the perilous river crossings, the surviving wildebeest fan out over the Masai Mara’s green pastures. Free from the dangers of croc-infested rivers, the Wildebeest Migration’s herds now have to look out for the Mara’s big cats, which have been eagerly awaiting their return. This is where to travel in September to see the Migration’s mega-herds grazing greedily before the journey back to the Serengeti.
Choosing which area in the Masai Mara to visit will influence your safari in September. The national reserve is busiest during the Wildebeest Migration (about July to November) and most of the area’s camps and lodges cater for large numbers of guests. The private conservancies to the north offer more tranquillity at luxury tented camps and special activities like off-road game viewing, nature walks and night game drives – activities not permitted in the national reserve. We recommend staying in one of the Masai Mara’s conservancies; you’re close enough to all the Migration’s hot spots, but able to retreat to your private camp for peace and serenity.
Tarangire & Katavi
With the last of the wildebeest checking out of the popular Serengeti by September, safari travellers to Tanzania could switch to the country’s lesser known but equally impressive reserves. Although Tarangire and Katavi National Parks aren’t household names, they deliver superb game viewing and are at their most rewarding in September.
Tarangire lies conveniently near Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, making it a great add-on to the two more famous destinations. This region is where to go in September, as the dry season’s animal concentrations along 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.
Ruaha & Selous
The dry season’s abundance of wildlife 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. Selous Game Reserve is another one of the best places to visit in Africa in September. It’s massive (almost double the size of Belgium) and phenomenally wild, with its defining feature being the great Rufiji River, which teems with Jurassic-size crocs, hippos and elephants.
Indian Ocean Islands
Seychelles, Mauritius & Mozambique
If you're based in the northern hemisphere, September brings the prospect of winter and it’s usually 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 in the Seychelles, Mauritius and Mozambique’s 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, the Seychelles or Mozambique is where to go in September – visibility is absolutely superb.
The Seychelles offers private islands, unspoiled reefs and one-of-a-kind accommodation, and, since it's accessible by air from Nairobi, it’s easy to add onto a Kenya safari in September. With its exciting mix of top-notch resorts, golf courses, diving lodges and honeymoon hideaways, Mauritius is the quintessential got-it-all island destination. And as for Mozambique, the far northern Quirimbas make an 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.
Ready to Visit Africa in September?
Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help you tailor-make an unforgettable safari in September: