Namibia with Wilderness Safaris

When to go?

Namibia is a true year-round destination with less extreme seasonal changes than other parts of southern Africa. Along the Namibian coastline, the cold Atlantic Benguela Current dictates the weather. The Skeleton Coast and coastal town attractions such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz are often enveloped in moody fog for a few hours in the mornings, before it is burnt off by the sun. Namibia is equally about the scenic grandeur of immense landscapes as the wildlife.

It is important to remember that while game viewing can never be guaranteed, there are some trends that can be seen when we combine our knowledge of seasons, habitats and water availability with animal distribution, their numbers, and thus where they can be found. The table below gives some insight into these trends. For more details, it is best to speak to your Journey Specialist or a seasoned Africa expert.

  • Transition Season Highlights

  • Green Season Highlights

  • Dry Season Highlights

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Green Season - December To March

Summer in Namibia is hot, but there is no better way to experience the season than seeing the dark clouds of an approaching thunderstorm which contrasts with the bleached calcrete soils waiting to be replenished. Late summer sees the ideal 'green desert' with a profusion of colour and life in the form of wildlife, grass and flowers. Conditions are definitely warm, with daytime temperatures reaching around 40° Celsius (albeit a drier heat) and milder evenings. The mornings are exceptional thanks to the beautiful light and calm conditions, perfect for warm pre-dawn starts to the day. For the photographer this is a special time: breathtaking horizons, dramatic light and lightning displays, fresh clean air with towering cloud formations, and visibly more energetic game.

It’s also the best season for birding. Many special resident species breed at this time, such as Rüppell’s parrot and white-tailed shrike, and these are complemented by the arrival of migratory species – both intra-African and Palearctic.

Sossusvlei

Depending on the amount of rainfall, the desert plains may be transformed into lush grassland. The dramatic Dead Vlei occasionally fills with water in late summer – a rare and special sight. All forms of life are instantly drawn to these brief pools of water. The public Sossusvlei area receives fewer tourists at this time of year affording a far more intimate experience. Many of the specialist dune fauna are most active at this time of year – from the displays of dune lark to Cape fox and suricates (meerkats) bearing young. As the day warms, the likes of tenebrionid beetles and shovel-snouted lizards come out.

Damaraland and Skeleton Coast

The rocky landscapes of Damaraland and Kunene, depending on rain received, may be covered with a tapestry of grassland. Arid-adapted species like gemsbok and springbok thrive then and are easily seen. At this time, desert-adapted elephant move from the sanctuary of the ephemeral river systems into the surrounding hilly regions. In late summer, episodic rains in the higher-lying catchment areas can turn the sandy riverbeds – often dry for years – into a brief rage of life-giving water – exciting sporadic events unique to this time of year. The water levels of the Kunene River are often at their highest in summer, making it the best time for boating trips that take in outstanding birdlife like olive bee-eater.

Ongava Game Reserve and Etosha National Park

The plains of Etosha National Park and Ongava Game Reserve are productive at this time. Following the arrival of the rains the herds leave the waterholes to concentrate on the vast short grass plains – both in Ongava and Etosha. This time also sees a glut of springbok lambs being born, so that every predator – from lion to jackal to python to eagle – follows and takes advantage of this easy food supply. The open nature of the plains allows for easy observation of many unfolding dramas, from predator-prey interactions to the territorial disputes of baritone bullfrogs that take place in roadside puddles.

Transition Season - April To May; November

This is a time of moderate climate, combining the best of the green and dry seasons. By May, temperatures start to cool, while November brings the heat of summer – as well as the arrival of many summer migrant bird species.

Sossusvlei

While the dunes are resplendent year-round, April and May are amongst the best times of the year to see them. Dependent on rainfall, the plains may still be covered in the protein-rich grasses, vistas that attract concentrations of desert-adapted herbivores like gemsbok and springbok into the open plains.

Damaraland and Skeleton Coast                 

The desert regions of Damaraland and Kunene enter a period of calm, comfortable days and pleasant evenings. Wildlife such as desert-adapted elephant start moving back to the ephemeral river systems of the Huab and Aba-Huab.

Ongava Game Reserve and Etosha National Park

In April and early May, grass cover and foliage can be quite extensive depending on rainfall received, making game viewing a bit trickier. In addition, wildlife can be quite spread out due to the availability of water throughout Etosha and Ongava. From May, the seasonal waterholes start drying up and wildlife moves towards the more permanent water sources. As the environment begins to dry out, the waterholes in front of our Ongava camps become more productive with species like lion and black rhino regularly seen.

Dry Season - June To October

This is a cooler and drier time of the year with cool to cold nights and warm days. Daytime temperatures begin rising towards September, with October generally being hot.

Sossusvlei

The grasses have died down, creating the starkly beautiful vistas and crystal-clear red dune silhouettes for which Sossusvlei is known. The clear skies are perfect for star gazing.

Damaraland and Skeleton Coast

In the north-west, wildlife is concentrated in the ephemeral river valleys where the remaining vegetation for foraging can be found. Game species such as desert-adapted elephant and lion, giraffe and kudu tend to concentrate along these river systems and natural springs.

Ongava Game Reserve and Etosha National Park

The landscape is dry and there is less water available, resulting in high game concentrations and density around waterholes. Game viewing usually peaks from June to October, especially in September/ October, with limited grasses and foliage. This period is best known for those dusty pictures of the dry season when large concentrations of game are drawn to the waterholes scattered around the fringe of the vast Etosha salt pan itself. As the late dry season (September-October) approaches its zenith, the tension of expectation in the air is palpable as everything seems to be waiting for the arrival of the spectacular thunderstorms – still a couple of months away.