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.
Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful places on earth for wildlife viewing. You can spot wildlife throughout the year. Because of its unique ecosystem, the animals don't leave the crater. If you want to combine Ngorongoro with other major National Parks in Tanzania and the Serengeti, June through September/October may be the best choice. However, every season is slightly different:
June - October: Dry season. The best months for game viewing / to spot wildlife. Animals gather around water holes. Fewer mosquitoes. Downside: Most crowds, highest rates, very busy. Jeeps and spots need to be shared with many others.
November - May: Wet season. Lush and green scenery. Not as good as the dry season for wildlife but still great. Special months within the wet season are January and February: You might see baby zebra, baby wildebeest and other newborn. Bird watching is also fantastic in January and February. In general, rain is limited and usually not that bad during the wet season. Except for March and April, where heavier rainfall can occur.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds:
Go in March or April. Highest possibility of rain but least visitors and lower rates. Sometimes it can get difficult to use the roads during or after heavy rain. In other seasons you should definitely start your safari tour early in the morning and leave around 6:00 AM. Use the earliest safari possible. You'll avoid heavy crowds by being the first on the floor.
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. Which animal can be seen which months:
April - early June: 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 are the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Gray wolves are often seen in Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley.
Mid-June - August: Many animals leave the valleys and head for higher areas. However, bison are still there, starting to rut in early August. Warm, great weather but also peak tourist months.
September - October: 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. Less crowded than in summer.
November - March: 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. In general dawn is even superior: Be at the valleys from sunrise till 9 AM. It's also less crowded. However, dusk is also great, particularly for elk viewing in Sept.
Click/touch to enlarge the wildlife timeline:
The highest chance to spot them is around new moon combined with a safari/tour in the afternoon when it’s also less busy. They are more active around dusk during new moon days.
In general, you can visit Yala year-round. It's never really bad. The dry season runs from May to October. The ‘mild’ rainy season runs from November to January and some more rainfall again in April.
It’s often very busy with many jeeps. Avoid weekends and public holidays. The busiest time of day is before midday. Many people stay one night and leave at noon.
The best time to spot leopards and other wildlife such as elephants and wild boar is from May to August. More animals gather around the waterholes during these months. From October to December it’s more likely to spot deer, crocodiles, and birds. The park is often closed in September / October (too aggressive animals after a heavy drought). The best TIME OF DAY to spot wildlife is either early morning or from afternoon till evening. From late morning until afternoon they usually hide under thick foliage.
The best time for wildlife viewing is in southern winter from May to September. The game concentration at waterholes is high, vegetation is low, and animals are easier to spot. Hyenas are night active, and we were lucky to spot two of them close to our camp by night.
Crowds and Weather
Southern winter; the dry season (May to September) is not only the best time for wildlife but also low season with fewer tourists, except for school holiday: It’s less busy in camps and on the roads. Days are sunny with low humidity and nights are cold. Fewer mosquito and a very low risk for malaria.
The busiest months in the main camps are in southern summer (November to March) if possible avoid the Christmas school holidays. The rain starts end of October. The scenery gets lush and green, but during summer it’s also hot and humid and heavy rainfalls occur. If rivers get flooded, you can't pass bridges. Wildlife game viewing is not as good as in southern winter.Our favorite month is September: still dry, even more, game to spot and temps rise.
Best time to visit Rinca (Komodo National Park) is during dry season.
During the wet season from January to March the paths are really muddy and difficult to walk.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds: :
Crowded in July and August and less busy from September to November.
Bear viewing is best in July and September. During both months the highest concentration of bears hunting for salmon can be spotted along the river. In June and August, less food is available.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
In July expect crowded conditions at the viewing platforms. September is the better month with fewer tourists.
Visit in September when it's less crowded. Time of day suggestion: Stay overnight at the lodge or the campground. Then you can get to the platforms between 5 and 7 PM when the day visitors already left. Livecam: Brooks Falls Bears Livecam
In late spring, summer and early fall it's often rainy, overcast. Especially in the summer months, the weather is unpredictable. Summer temperatures range from 30˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit (-1˚ to 27˚ Celsius). Winters are drier and colder.