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Wildlife

When is a great time to spot wildlife? Wild animals can be found in ecosystems like deserts, forests, rain forests, plains or grasslands. Often wildlife is hidden and difficult to spot. Here you will find the right time and areas where the chance for a wildlife sighting is much higher.

Ranomafana (the Malagasy words for “hot water”) is without a doubt the most spectacular places in Madagascar. Its name is derived from the hot springs which pour out warm water into the valley. Because it is easily accessible and provides immense biodiversity, it became one of the most visited areas on Madagascar. The rainforest stretches over a mountainous terrain of over 410 km² and is Madagaskars 3rd largest park. Besides 12 different lemur species, it is home of the golden bamboo lemur. A species discovered in 1986 and the reason why this park exists. The tarred roads crossing the park made it accessible all year. Only during the rainy season, the travel may take longer than usual.

Weather and Crowds

Madagascar's overall climate is subtropical, with a hot and rainy season between November until end of March, and a cooler and drier season from May to October. Each of the five regions of the island is subject to its climate and precipitation varies widely between the regions. During the wet season and times of high rainfall, travel can become difficult, if not impossible. Based on the different geographical areas huge temperature variations can occur.

The Ranomafana Park is located on a high elevation between 800m and 1200m, and the densely forested hills are covered by primary and secondary forest. The climate is warm and humid often with a relative moisture of 90-97%. The average temperature seldom increases over 25°C and drops not under 14°C. During the night it can cool down significantly. The temperature highs and lows may vary depending on the occurrence of a tropical cyclone. 

Best month to visit are from May to November although the dry season usually extends from April to December. Precipitation during the wet season is highest in January with 430 mm and the driest month is August. Because annual rainfall is in the range from ~1,600 to 4,017mm rain can occur every day and it's highly recommended to come with waterproof shoes, rain jacket, and umbrella.  

It is essential to spend enough time in the park and hike to the primary forest at higher elevations. If you only plan to hike the short tracks, it can become very crowded during the peak season (July to September).

MG Madagascar

The best time for traveling to the east of South Africa is the dry and mild winter from May to September. During December to February, thunderstorms and heavy precipitation can occur. 

Wildlife

The best time for hippo and wildlife spotting is in southern winter from May to September. In winter the day temperature is pleasant and not too hot. The reason hippos feed at daytime as well and not only at night as they are doing during summer. Also, the game is more active because of the pleasant temps at this time of the year.

White Rhinos in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park

Turtle watching

Guided tours are offered for Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles during summer in the night from November to March and hatchlings emerge after roughly 70 days between January to March. More information and booking

Crowds and Weather by Season
Southern Winter (May to September) - Dry Season

Is the best time for wildlife spotting, and it's likewise the low season with fewer tourists, except for school holidays. Dry season: Days are sunny, above 20°C with low humidity and nights are cold around 15°C. Fewer mosquitos occur. It's a pleasant time to travel through the east of South Africa. Our favorite month is September: still dry, even more game to spot and temps rise.

Southern Summer (November to March) - Rainy Season

It's the peak season; December and January are typically the worst months of the year. Accommodations should be booked in advance and prices are on a top level. November and March are less crowded. The rain starts end of October. The scenery gets lush and green, but during summer it’s also hot and humid temps are on average around 30°C and heavy rainfall can occur. Cape Vidal is incredibly popular the reason that vehicle access is limited to 120 vehicles per day. Either you enter the gate early in the day, or you already made a booking for an overnight stay. Evenings are tranquil, and beaches are peaceful when the daytrippers left the park.
 

Gate opening
ZA South Africa

Where animal sightings happen, depends on habitat preferences, weather and seasonal cycles of movement. Still, it's often a matter of luck but you can increase your chances by following our monthly guide. Read our full guide below and find out which animal can be seen in which months and season (spring - summer - autumn - winter). And if you want to make the most out of your wildlife visit, consider this incredible private tour: Private Yellowstone Wildlife Tour (with extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and professional tour guides. You'll love it! Read the reviews!)

April - Early June (Spring)

Most animals can be spotted in or near the valleys. It's the time for baby bison, baby moose, baby bear, baby elk and many more. Also a good time to spot wolves and grizzly bears. Grizzly sightings occur mostly at night, dawn and dusk. A great grizzly bear spot in spring is the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Gray wolves are often seen in Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley.

 

Mid-June - July - August (Summer)

Bears and other animals leave the valleys and head for higher areas in June/July. But still, visitors often report bear sightings throughout June. Later in July and August the chances to spot grizzlies or black bears in the valleys are very low.  However, bison are still there, starting to rut in early August. Warm, great weather but also peak tourist months. 

 

September - October (Autumn)

Animals return to the valleys. Elk rut throughout September. The fascinating rut can be witnessed up-close in Mammoth Hot Springs, near the northern entrance. Together with amazing fall colors it’s one of the best time to view or photograph almost every animal including elk, moose, bighorn as well as wolves and grizzly. Visitor wise it gets slightly less busy in September after Labor Day weekend. However especially weekends are still busy. In late September/early October the crowds start to dissipate.

 

 

November December- January - February - March (Winter)

Winter, a magical time and least crowded. Most animals are in or near the valleys. Some can be spotted near the steaming geyser basins. Winter is the best time to view wolves. You can also observe bison, elk, bighorn and others. Another great time for photographers, since animals are easier to spot against the snow. Grizzly bears can't be spotted, since they hibernate in winter until mid-March.

 

Time of Day

The best time of day for wildlife viewing is either dawn or dusk: Animals usually feed during the early morning and in the evening. That's why they're often more visible at these times as they're up and moving around. In general dawn is even superior: Be at the valleys just before at sunrise and stay until 9 AM. It's also less crowded. However, dusk is also great, particularly for elk viewing in Sept. Sunrise - Sunset Yellowstone

Wildlife Calendar

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

Yellowstone National Parks gets heavily crowded in the peak summer months. If you plan a summer visit, book your hotel well in advance. 

The most crowded months are June, July and August: Congested roads, overflown parking lots and the popular places are packed: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs. The month of May is still moderate visitor wise. However, it gets very busy on Memorial Day. Later in September visitation starts to drop off after Labor Day weekend. However, it's still busy, even more so on weekends. In late September the crowds start to thin out. In October it's getting a lot quieter again. How to avoid the crowds during peak months? Arrive early! The rush hour in YNP starts between 9 and 10 AM. Get up as early as possible!  Another way is to dodge the crowds is by staying late: The main attractions are packed between 10 AM and 4 PM. Get there later, as it doesn't get dark before 9 PM anyway. Another big advantage when arriving early or staying late: You'll get to see more wildlife at dawn or dusk (see above). Extra tip: Check the official NPS Webcams a few days before you arrive during certain daytimes. 

Weather

There is one word which is true for Yellowstone's weather: Unpredictable! Temperature drops and rain can happen almost any time in spring, summer and fall. Thunderstorms in summer are common in the afternoons. Bring layer of clothes and always rain gear.

If you'd like to avoid snow, then don't visit before June. It still can snow in June at some places but it will melt very quickly. By late May the valley floor is usually snow free. In higher elevations you may still see some snow in late May and June. That's important to know if you go hiking. After the summer you can expect the first real snow in October. As a local expert says: 'You can count on snow on the ground in Yellowstone by Halloween!'. However, never let the snow stop you from coming. October is an excellent month: Quiet and still so much wildlife to spot! In spring April and May are our preferred months, regardless of the snow.

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The Grey-headed flying foxes (also called fruit bats) stay in the Yarra Bend Park close to Melbourne year around as a permanent colony. The Colony numbers fluctuate with the seasons, and there are usually more flying-foxes in summer and fewer in winter. In summer the colony can grow up to 30.000 to 50.000 bats.


Time of Day

During daytime, they roost upside down in the trees nearby the water. They are vulnerable to overheating; therefore, they choose this area because of the higher humidity and the colder air. Also, they need to drink water on hot days, so they stay close to a water source such as the Yarra River.

Close to the Bellbird Picnic Area, you can find a viewing platform. The bat colony walking trail and interpretive signage provides details about the flying‐foxes. You can observe them from different stops along the Bat Colony Trail. Although some of them are very close to the path, you should either take a binocular or a good zoom camera with you. The young flying-foxes often roost high up in the trees; the elder uses the shadow of the trees at lower places.

Flying-foxes are nocturnal and at sunset, they will fly-out to consume nectar, fruit, and pollen from a wide range of plant species. Typically they start flying out together if it becomes dark, which provides you with dramatic scenery. Preferably a day with blue sky during daytime and nice sundown will allow the perfect experience. You may have to wait sometime after sunset before they start to fly out and taking photos will become more difficult due to low light.

AU Australia

Addo is a year-round destination. Best game viewing months are June to September. It is the drier season and elephants gather in numbers around the waterholes. During September and October, many animals give birth to their young ones. This causes an increase in predator activity and a higher chance of spotting.

Birding

From September onwards migratory birds arrive from the north like the European stork.
More information about birds in Addo.

Climate

It is hot in summer from November to February and cold in winter from June to August. Night temperature can be near freezing. Rain can always occur with two peaks in February/March and October/November. If it is rainy in summer game is not any longer hiding at midday. It is a semi-arid region with little rainfall in total. Best months are April/May and September with mild temperature, and it is mostly dry.

Crowds

It is a popular destination for tourists and residents. Peak season during summer, especially Christmas holiday and Eastern. Also busier during European summer holidays.

ZA South Africa

Denali is open year-round. However, main activities and tours are being offered in summer only. Shuttle busses will get you into the wilderness from May 20 until mid-September (Jump directly to our bus tips here: Shuttle Bus and Tour Bus Tips). Find helpful weather details at: Denali Park Weather Monthly averages here: Climate Denali National Park (switch from C to F at the top right. Keep in mind that the temperatures vary depending on the elevation and the part of the park). Check the Denali Webcam at Wonder Lake and read on for more details about a summer, winter, spring or fall visit:


The best time to experience amazing fall foliage in Denali: Late August/early-September
 

Mid-May - late May (spring): May is the driest month and the weather starts to get warmer. Average high: 52°F (11°C). Most tours and the shuttle bus service start around mid-May. However, some snow has still to melt. As a result, the deeper parts of the park are often not fully accessible. Rates are low and there are no crowds.

June (late spring, summer): June is also a very dry month and temperatures climb. Average high: 66°F (19°). Flowers are in bloom and you get the most hours of daylight (Sunrise-Sunset Denali). After the first week of June, the park is usually fully accessible. Early June until mid-June is a great time before it starts to get crowded with tourists coming from cruise ships and everywhere else. Drawback: Mosquitoes are an issue from June until the end of July.

July (summer): July is the warmest months with temperatures climbing to 70°F (21°C) and still a lot of daylight (18-19 hours). There is slightly more precipitation than in June, but no need to worry about long periods of rain. July is the peak month in terms of visitation. Again, small drawback: Mosquitoes are still an issue.

August (late summer): It's still pleasant. However, temperatures already start to drop slightly but it's still a great month temperature wise. Average high: 62°F (17°C). Also, there are slightly fewer daylight hours in August (16-17 hours). August has the highest average precipitation of all months. However, nothing to worry about. You need to bring rain gear regardless of the month. In terms of visitors, it's still very crowded.

Early September - mid-September (early autumn): As temperatures drop it will be cooler in September and there is also less daylight (11-14 hours). Average high: 50°F (10°C). However, it's still a great month to visit as the temperature is still pleasant and all services are being offered until mid-September. After Labor Day Weekend (beginning of September) the crowds dissipate as well. You'll enjoy a much more peaceful park. Looking for the leaf color explosion? Fall foliage starts early in Denali. The peak time for the beautiful fall colors is usually the end of August and early September.

Mid-September - mid-October (autumn) and April - early May (spring): Most services are shut down, restaurants, hotels, and shops are closed from mid-September to mid-May. However, the shoulder season can be quite rewarding as you can experience the 'real' Alaska. In the fall temperatures can still be pleasant or already freezing cold in October. Always check the weather forecast. In fall and spring, you need to rent a car as the shuttle service is not available. More helpful details about visiting in shoulder season: Fall and Spring Visit 

Late-October - March (winter): It gets freezing cold and it's time for Winter Activities. Including skiing, winter biking and snowshoeing. Temperatures are ranging from -40 degrees Fahrenheit and colder, the to high 20s on warm days.


Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The summer months experience the highest visitation. Below the visitor stats chart, you can find our tips in order to enjoy a more peaceful visit to Denali National Park.

  • Shoulder Weeks (late spring/early fall):
    To avoid the most crowds at the popular spots (entrance areas, bus tours, visitor centers, famous spots) during peak season, still use the shuttle bus service and enjoy mostly pleasant weather: Visit during either in the very short late spring or early fall season: End of May until mid-June or early September (after Labor Day) until mid-September.
     
  • Popular Tours in Shoulder Weeks:
    The very popular day tours which do not include hiking like the Tundra Wilderness Tour or the Kantishna Experience Tour are usually fully booked during peak months. During shoulder weeks (see above) there is a good chance that a tour bus is less than half full. That means you can spread out. The tours usually run from mid-May until mid-September (Kantishna from early June until mid-September). Read below for more info on bus tours.
     
  • Own Activities / Trail Hiking:
    You can avoid crowds in peak season by planning your own activities. And even if you only drive to Savage River (by free bus shuttle or with your own car) for the short hike and to spend time there, you'll avoid tourist groups by starting early. Check the list of trails: Denali Trail Details. Always start early, and you'll avoid the crowds. If you take a shuttle bus: Make an online reservation and book the earliest departure.
     
  • Off-Trail Hikes/Walks:
    Even in the summer, it's quite easy to get away from every group of tourists and spend time in solitude: Book a transit shuttle bus early in the morning departing from the WAC (Wilderness Access Center). Get off the bus wherever you like and start hiking or walking. Regardless of your fitness level or age! If you feel intimidated, you can stay close to the park road the whole time and still experience stunning wilderness and wildlife. Get back on the bus to WAC whenever you like for free. Find more details about easy off-trail hikes (even short 1-2 hours hikes/walks) below in the hiking and shuttle text section.
     
  • Stay at a Hotel Outside the Park:
    The entrance area is always filled with thousands of people in the summer. The same applies to the hotels very close to the entrance (Princes Lodges, Bluffs Hotels, …). The easiest way to avoid those heavily crowded areas is to take advantage of the more quiet lodging alternatives in Healy (17 Minute Drive - Google Maps). You'd need a rental car (UBER is also available now), but the hotels there are also less expensive. Check the best prices and book well ahead: Healy - Recommended Hotels
 

Wildlife / Flora / Northern Lights

The best time of day to spot wildlife is in the morning or late afternoon/evening. Being on a bus long enough increases your chances. Best season is during the warmer summer months. There is not much wildlife in the winter due to hibernation. Denali also has a rich and amazing flora. Wildflowers begin to bloom in early June till late July. How to spot the Northern Lights? Since the Denali region is almost free light pollution,  it's an excellent area to see the aurora borealis (Northern Lights).  The sky must be dark enough and clear. With a partly clouded sky, it's less likely to experience it. Time of day? Usually, you can start looking after 1,5 hours after sunset. It's possible to see the Aurora here between mid-August and early-May. However, the highest chance to spot Northern Lights is in March/April and September/October.

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