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 article!).
The Serengeti and Masai Mara
In the north-west corner of Tanzania’s Serengeti Reserve, huge 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 next August? Book now – it's prime time and the best views and beds are booked up to a year in advance!
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 Wildebeest 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.
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!
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 African 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 World Heritage Site for over 30 years but most people have never heard of it. Selous 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 may be 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.
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 Wildebeest 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.
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 powerful 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.
How to do it: The Uganda fly-in Gorilla, Chimps and Wildlife tour kicks off from the capital Entebbe, before moving to Queen Elizabeth National Park. From there, you are driven to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to find endangered mountain gorillas but also for the opportunity to spot hundreds of species of endemic birds and butterflies and to learn more about rural life in Uganda by visiting community centres and Batwa villages.
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. 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.