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.
The National Park is open year round although most hotels close during the monsoon season from late June to the end of September. Best time for a visit is the dry season and especially the end of the dry season when Bengal tigers, elephants and other wildlife gather around the waterholes.
The boiling hot season lasts from March/April to May with temps above 40°C which gets even worse due to the high humidity. Monsoons can occur from June to end of September which makes safaris in Chitwan almost impossible. Rivers are flooded. More stable weather during the winter months from October to March although showers can occur. Pleasant day temps and freezing cold nights from mid-October until February.
Highlights - Wildlife
Wildlife spotting is outstanding late January and February when the towering grass, several meters high gets annually cut by the villagers for their own use. October to December is also an excellent time because of the increased chance to spot tigers, elephants, and other wildlife as they gather around the waterholes. Sloth bears are rare to spot.
The Bengal Tigers population is increasing due to the enormous efforts of the rangers to prevent poaching. There are an estimated 235 tigers in entire Nepal nowadays.
Spotting One-Horned Rhino
Very popular is elephant riding which generally lasts 1 1/2 hours to spot rhinos. The best time for it is early morning, the second tour and late afternoon. The advantage of the second tour they already may know where they are grazing.
Best Time for Birding - Migration (almost 550 species of birds occur in Chitwan)
- September to November
- February to April
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.
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.
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.
- April-September: mostly 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
- October-March: mostly 5 or 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. depending on the park
- Check the opening hours for each "park" first
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.
Crowds and Climate
Southern winter, the dry season (May to September) is the best time for wildlife spotting. Days are sunny with low humidity and nights are cold. Fewer mosquito. It's also the low season with viewer crowds, except for school holiday: It’s less busy in camps and on the roads.
The busiest months with most tourists in the main camps are in the southern summer (November to March). 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. Wildlife game viewing is not as good as in southern winter, but birding is excellent. Our favorite month is September: still dry, even more game to spot and temperatures rise.
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.
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.
There are 6 great months in which to view bears in Hallo Bay. So let the activity you want to see determine your trip dates. Hallo Bay does not just depend on an intensive two week period of a salmon run like other areas. This fertile region provides abundant food for the bears.
Mid-May - Mid-July: Mother bears with their cubs – Great time to visit.
The breeding season is drawing to a close and the males having some respite from their aggressive and competitive battles for dominance. The salmon runs will happen next month. But time spent studying the bears this month will be rewarded. The spring meadows of Hallo Bay are now lush with sedge grass and the tidal flats full of clams. The omnivorous nature of the bears is well suited to the changing seasons. You will see bears munching blades of grass, grubbing for roots and vigorously extracting clams from the mud at low tide. This is the season to see mother bears with their new cubs, and the first signs of bears rubbing, so their fur is still in good condition.
Mid-July - Mid-August: Salmon runs - Excellent time to visit.
The beautiful coastal blooms and the fireweed flowers are at their most prolific now. The bears are starting to move inland to the rivers. The nutrients from vegetation and clams are no longer sufficient now that the plump chum and pink salmon are starting their runs. The most dominant bears command the best fishing sites with their subordinates having to make do with the less productive spots up or downstream from them. The bears exhibit their strength and agility in catching the salmon as they cross the shallow gravel beds. There are no natural traps in the Hallo Bay rivers like the local Brooks and McNeil Falls to help the bears. This display of raw power represents bear viewing at its most spectacular. The bears are now losing their old fur by rubbing more energetically in preparation for their new winter coats. You may also be fortunate enough to see wolves!
Mid-August - Mid-September: Salmon runs continue - Excellent time to visit.
In late August, as the days are drawing in and the bears are displaying the start of their new winter fur. The Coho salmon are just starting their spawning runs. The chum and pink are completing theirs. The bears seem to prefer the Coho because they are heavier and fatter. The Coho run is also the largest on this coast and may continue until October. The bears are now back to their mixed diet of fish, mushrooms and mixed berries, preparing for the cold winter ahead.
Mid-September - Mid-October: Bears easily to view along rivers and beaches - Good time to visit.
As the Fall colors provide a beautiful backdrop and the days draw in, the bears spend much of their time resting along the rivers and beaches. The pleasant weather is now interrupted by sudden bursts of rapid storms. You may see the bears, resplendent in their winter fur, feeding on the old salmon that have finished their life cycle after spawning, but new Coho may still be making their way upstream. Berries are also an important part of the bear's’ diet at this time
November - December: Bears preparing to hibernate – Not a good time.
A more unhurried pace in Hallo Bay as the large winter storms (often lasting for days) now become common. This determines the time for the bears to prepare for the winter months.
January - February: Bears hibernate - Not a good time.
Mother bears give birth at this time
April- Early May: Males exhibiting acts of dominance – Visiting possible but not recommended.
This is a post-denning time, and bear movement may be seen close to their dens on the snow-covered upper slopes. On the coastline, it is too early for sedge grass and goose tongue, so the bear movement is less predictable at this time as they grub for roots. The large males are starting a new breeding season by displaying acts of dominance. April to early May is not a good time to view bears in easy to access areas.
Seasonal Bear Activity Overview
Mother and Cubs and mating season – Mid-May to mid-July
Salmon Runs – July to mid-September
Bears Resting – Mid-September to mid-October
Bears Hibernation – November until March
Bear fighting – April to Early May (higher slopes)
Where to Stay
In the past, it was possible to stay in the Katmai National Park. Since the owner of the lodge died, you can stay in Homer only. Day tours by plane to watch the bears feeding are offered from the airport. The Homer Inn and Spa offers spectacular views. It's ideally located close to the airport and the town center. Explore more hotels nearby in Homer.