Where To Go On Safari In May

Our recommendation for the best holiday destinations for a safari in May:

Countries to visit in May: South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar

May is the transition month from autumn into winter in the southern hemisphere, with weather conditions varying across the continent. It’s the end of the rainy season with pleasant weather for safaris in many parts of Southern Africa, while in East Africa the weather is not ideal. Countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and parts of Ethiopia typically have their long rainy season during this time, making it less favourable for safaris. 

The countries listed below are some of the best countries to visit in May, offering blue skies, warm temperatures and cooler nights with the approach of winter. The preceding rains have turned the landscape into a lush verdant paradise for wildlife, which can make it more challenging to find, but it’s a very beautiful time of year in the bush.

South Africa

May is the last month of autumn in South Africa, with warm days and cool nights. It’s a good time to go on safari with milder day-time temperatures, sunshine and blue skies. It’s the beginning of the high season in the northern parks but they are not too busy yet. As May falls within the dry season, there are excellent game viewing opportunities as elephant herds and other wildlife are on the move searching for water sources. 

Begin your safari in Kruger National Park or Madikwe Game Reserve, known for a high density of wildlife, including the iconic Big Five. The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park offers a unique blend of wetland, marine, and savannah ecosystems, while Pilanesberg National Park, located near Johannesburg, is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including rare species such as the black rhino. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal province is another place for rhinos, particularly white rhinos.

However, if it’s elephants you wish to see, head to the Addo Elephant National Park, which is famous for its elephant population. Don’t forget to add Kwandwe Private Game Reserve to your itinerary, as it offers the chance to see diverse wildlife, including cheetahs, giraffes, and antelopes.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 


May is the shoulder season in Mozambique, the rains have finished and the days are hot and sunny. Although better known for its stunning coastline, Mozambique also offers safari experiences. Gorongosa National Park is a must-visit, with its diverse wildlife and successful conservation efforts, which you can explore  on game drives or walking safaris to spot elephants, lions, and an array of bird species. The Niassa Reserve, located in northern Mozambique, is hard to access but once there has over 10,000 elephants, lions, and rare antelope species.

The Quirimbas Archipelago and Bazaruto Archipelago are tropical paradises off the coast of Mozambique. May is the perfect time for snorkelling and diving in the clear waters to see the coral reefs and rich marine life including colourful fish, turtles, and dolphins. Also keep an eye out for dugongs, whale sharks, and humpback whales.

Lastly, the Maputo Special Reserve, located near the capital city, Maputo Special Reserve is a unique blend of wetlands, savannahs, and coastal ecosystems.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 


Shoulder season in Botswana, May is an ideal time to travel for those looking for a more affordable safari. The days are warm and sunny, although nights can be colder. The Okavango Delta,one of Botswana’s highlights, is a lush, watery wilderness in May as the floodwaters from Angola have  filled the channels, attracting a wealth of wildlife. Exploring this unique ecosystem by mokoro (traditional canoe) or boat.

Chobe National Park is another excellent choice, renowned for its large elephant herds and other wildlife, coming down to the Chobe River to drink – a great place to explore on a boat cruise. Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta also offers a diverse and wildlife-rich experience with vibrant floodwaters in May.

Makgadikgadi Pans provide a unique and awe-inspiring environment, attracting wildlife during the dry season, while Central Kalahari Game Reserve showcases lush vegetation and abundant wildlife after the rainy season. Nxai Pan National Park offers excellent game viewing as animals gather around waterholes, while Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in northern Botswana presents pleasant temperatures and the opportunity to witness animal interactions along waterways.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 


The end of the rainy season, May is when many of the camps which close over the rains open up again. The bush is lush and verdant after the rains, a beautiful time to visit, although it’s harder to spot wildlife with the thick vegetation, and a quieter time before the peak season starting in June. Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, known for its walking safaris and diverse wildlife,  is a scenic gem at this time of year with lush landscapes and prime game viewing opportunities. Lower Zambezi National Park is another excellent choice, offering river safaris, canoeing, and excellent birdwatching.

Head to Kafue National Park, one of Africa’s largest national parks, with diverse habitats and abundant wildlife, which can be explored through boat safaris and game drives. In May, it’s green and lush, attracting herds of antelopes, elephants, and predators. Another one of Zambia’s  best places to visit in May, includes Liuwa sNational Park, which offers the opportunity to see blue wildebeest and zebras in May, while the Bangweulu Wetlands, home to rare bird species like the shoebill stork, is ideal for birdwatching during this time.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 


In Namibia, May marks the end of the rainy season, with no chance of rain, cool night-time and pleasant day-time temperatures. It’s the most scenic time of year with lush vegetation and beautiful scenery after the rains. The waterholes have filled up attracting diverse wildlife, making wildlife reserves such as Etosha National Park a must-see destination. The park is home to an array of species, including elephants, lions, giraffes, and rhinos, which can be spotted against the stunning backdrop of the vast salt pan.

Namib-Naukluft National Park is another remarkable safari destination you must visit in May. This rugged desert landscape offers unparalleled beauty, with towering sand dunes and sweeping vistas. The cooler temperatures during this time also make it more comfortable for exploring the area on foot, allowing visitors to appreciate the incredible biodiversity, from the desert-adapted wildlife to the fascinating plant life.

May is considered the shoulder season for tourism, which means fewer crowds and lower prices, an all-round great time to visit.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 


Madagascar, the biodiversity hotspot of the Indian Ocean, offers an exceptional safari experience in May. This month marks the end of the rainy season, resulting in lush landscapes and thriving wildlife, as well as less visitors and shoulder season rates. Some lodges may remain closed until June. One must-visit destination during this time is the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, where visitors can witness the captivating courtship rituals and mating displays of the indri lemurs, the largest living lemurs on the island. The park is also home to a variety of other lemur species, chameleons, and a plethora of birdlife, creating a magical experience for nature enthusiasts.

Visitors should also visit Ankarafantsika National Park, known for its high biodiversity. Located in northwest Madagascar, Ankarafantsika showcases unique flora and fauna that appear lush, adding to the park’s beauty. May offers excellent opportunities to spot rare and endemic species, such as the Coquerel’s sifaka lemurs, as well as an array of bird species.

In addition to popular destinations, visitors can explore other attractions in Madagascar, such as the Avenue of Baobabs near Morondava, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in the northwest, Nosy Be Island off the northwest coast, Ranomafana National Park in the southeast, and Isalo National Park in the Ihorombe Region.

Recommended itineraries for safari in May: 

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