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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.

Best month for the crab migration is April but you may see them until June.

CU Cuba

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.  More weather details: Ranomafana Weather Statistics

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

Watching "The Gathering" is an outstanding spectacle and takes place in the dry season from July to October with its peak in August and September. The elephants gather in high numbers up to 300 around the water reservoir due to the lack of water. To enjoy this vast amount of elephants try to book a tour for the late afternoon with fewer off-road cars. Usually, the males are only around during the mating season in June - July. The elephants wander around between three different parks, so it's not guaranteed to spot them in high numbers.

Update 2019

The last tripadvisor reviews are deterring. The jeep drivers don't show any respect for these majestic animals; almost chasing. Better go to Udawalawe. We'd been here as well. The drivers stay on the path and don't drive like crazy to the bush. Also, many other animals can be spotted.

Sambar Deer
Samba Deer in Udawalawe

Weather

Showers can occur throughout the year. During May decreasing rainfall while June to September are the driest months. It's often overcast from June to August. The tropical climate has a humidity of around 80 % most of the time. Most precipitation from October until December. January to April it's frequently sunny. You may experience the most pleasant weather conditions between January and September.

LK Sri Lanka

Best time of the year is September to November. Rain can occur from time to time particularly in the night. Avoid December to March; the rainy season with a high risk for cyclones.

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

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.

Hallo Bay in the Katmai National Park; a bear with cubs

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!

Hallo Bay Katmai National Park in Alaska, watching bears feeding on salmon

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.

Plane approaching Hallo Bay for bears viewing in Katmai Alaska

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