May is the perfect time of year for many safari destinations, particularly if you want to capture the late spring and early summer of the northern hemisphere. Later in the year, even if you head to the southern part of Africa, you tend to face larger crowds from holidaymakers who are enjoying a safari with their families. May is great if you want a safari that does not feel like a school trip and there are some places where the natural wonders you’ll want to see are at their best.
In May, the rainy season is not likely to interrupt a safari trip to this wonderful country. Safaris to Mozambique tend to be marketed as either in the northern or southern part of the state, but both are quite accessible in May. Many safari goers like to double up sightseeing and spotting big game with a beach break – the country boasts some superb beaches over its 2,500 kilometre long Indian Ocean coastline. However, it is the Quirimbas National Park, which is home to many species of large animals, that tends to draw safari goers. Luscious in May, the parkland covers over 750,000 hectares of forest, mangroves and – because it extends all the way to the coast – coral reefs, too.
Although the temperatures at South Africa’s Cape can be low and strong winds are prevalent, the northern part of the country is ideal for safaris in May. Well known for its lions and elephants, Kruger National Park, which lies in the north east of the country, became a reserve back in 1898 and is well established among the great safari destinations of the world. Rhinos, herds of buffalo and even leopards can all be spotted in the company of highly experienced safari guides. The standard of accommodation ranges from the high luxury end to something much more simple for those on a budget or who simply want to get closer to nature.
Kenya’s justly famous safari reserves are great at most times of the year, but late May is a particularly unspoilt time to see them, before the large numbers of tourists start arriving from June onwards. The worst of the country’s wet season is over by early May and yet this is often the best time to come if you want to see young animals, such as baby elephants and infant wildebeest. If you are unlucky enough to face rain in the second half of May, then it is likely to be a shower rather than a powerful downpour which means that the whole country seems verdant and rich.
Located on the western side of southern Africa, Namibia is still a relatively unknown place for western tourists. If you think of the country as nothing more than a sand strewn desert, then it is time to think again. Namibia certainly does have some stunning desert landscapes, but it is also a great place for animal spotting, too. Indeed, the huge Etosha National Park has a well deserved reputation for being one of the safest and most rewarding game reserves in the southern part of the continent. With many access points, it is simple to navigate and the perfect place for a self-drive safari experience.
With the temperatures not peaking yet, May is an ideal time to visit Zambia on safari. The country has virtually no rain in the month of May and this means that there are fewer mosquitoes to put up with. Zambia is still virtually untouched by mass tourism in many places, certainly if you avoid the ever popular Victoria Falls. At this point in the summer, it has become sufficiently dry that vegetation does not hide the game animals from view, so it becomes much easier to see the abundant giraffes, zebra, hippos and elephants. Newborn animals are also commonly on view, especially when the animals congregate around watering holes as the country’s rivers are already starting to dry up following the wet season.
Famous for its singular wildlife, the island of Madagascar is a superb place to visit in May. The island has developed in isolation from the African mainland for over 100 million years creating a unique bio-system reflected in both its flora and forna. There are four national parks in Madagascar, each of which has its own distinct identity and beauty, not to mention animals – such as many species of lemur. The Montagne d’AmbreNational Park is worthy of particular mention with no less than 25 species of mammal to be found within its 18, 200 hectares.
When looking for a great safari destination, it is always advisable to keep an eye on what time of year your planned trip might go ahead. Avoiding the peak temperatures whilst also steering clear of the rainiest months is what is most desirable. Consult a month-by-month safari calendar to find out where to head and when.