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.
Brown bears are in the area from mid-spring until October. Usually, the salmon run takes place from mid latest end of June until the end of July but can be August as well. The salmon run is not predictable. The sockeye salmon is swimming and jumping upstream to spawn before they die. Brown bear viewing is best between July and September. During the salmon run, you can spot the highest concentration of bears hunting for red salmon along the Brooks River and Falls. You may spot 20 to 50 bears along the falls. Usually, in June and August is less food is available. Anyhow, you always may spot bears just fewer.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
In July expect crowded conditions at the viewing platforms. There is a limit of 40 people watching the bears for maximum one hour controlled by rangers. September is much better with fewer tourists. 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.
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 digging a den before November
- Bears Hibernation – November until March
- Up to four cubs are born in mid-winter
- Bear fighting – April to Early May (higher slopes)
Migration time is from mid-July to mid-October. However, due to varying rainfall patterns, the exact timing varies each year. The highest chances to watch the dramatic river crossings in Masai Mara is in August and September. In 2018 the wildebeest migration had started in August.
All this happens during the dry season (June to October) with great weather. There is little to no precipitation.
July to October is also the busiest time at Masai Mara with higher prices and loads of tourists in jeeps during the peak months in Aug/Sept. This is a downside but it's worth it. You may book a private concession to stay away from the crowds in the main reserve.
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.
Main rutting season for bull elks from mid-September until roughly mid-October. The bull elks are bugling until they are successful. Therefore, the season can be shorter or even longer. Come here either early morning until midmorning or late in the afternoon to hear and see the spectacle. It's pretty busy in the observation tower during the afternoon. It may happen that the best seats are already occupied.
There is no easier place in Costa Rica to see wildlife in the wild. Therefore Manuel Antonio is a very popular Park in Costa Rica with more than 400.000 visitors in 2015. The park opens in the morning at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Nowadays limited access, 600 visitors on weekdays and 800 on weekends and holidays. It's essential to show up early.
On Weekends and during Costa Rican holiday you should avoid a visit. The Park is even closed on Mondays because of the number of people coming here on the weekend. This requires clean-up on this day. Therefore, the best days are Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays, many visitors who were not able to enter on Monday may choose this day.
To beat the crowds be there early when the park opens at 7.00 a.m. As an alternative you can go late, if you visit the park in the afternoon, you may run into fewer visitors during that time. But remember that the number of visitors is limited.
Besides the tourists from all over the world, many Costa Rican school children visit Manuel Antonio. The park offers an education program for schools, organizations, and independent visitors. The focus of the program is to provide local children the opportunity to experience, the beauty and biodiversity of the most renowned National Park of Costa Rica.
Check the Costa Rican Holiday schedule to avoid too many people here.
The dry season starts in December and lasts until the end of March. The rest of the year will be the rainy season. But be aware that rainfall can happen as well during the dry months.
On average, the temperatures are always in the high twenties (Celsius) / around 80° F, Most precipitation from May to November. The driest month are January until March. On average, the warmest month is March with almost 300 hours of sunshine. September is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you don't like too much rain, road conditions became worse and spotting animals will be challenging.
All animals are active at the beginning of the rainy season in December.
The dry season last from April to November. Often Kirindy is not accessible from January to end of March. In October you may see baby lemurs. There are fewer midges at the end of the dry season.