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During March the Great Wildebeest Migration is on the southern plains of the Serengeti, and will soon start moving north © Simon Espley

March in Africa is in the cusp period between seasons, with mixed weather and game viewing. Temperatures have cooled off from the height of summer, and the rains have reduced in the summer rainfall areas. In many bushveld areas, this is the tail-end of the breeding season, and there are still young animals and birds everywhere! The bush buzzes with excitement and abundance. In contrast to the short, dark days in the Northern Hemisphere, Africa celebrates this time of year with colour and vibrancy.

Expect fewer tourists and lower prices than during the peak safari months, and some lodges further away from easily accessible areas offer discounts at this time of year. Some lodges even close for a month or two. Read this article about finding more affordable lodge accommodation based on the time of year: How to find luxury safari lodges at a discount.

Wildlife viewing can be patchy in places – mainly because of the thick green vegetation and more water availability than during the dry months. But bird-watching is at its peak because of the breeding activities and the presence of summer migrants. This is an excellent time to enjoy the smaller things celebrating this time of plenty – such as the convergence of eagles, snakes and even leopards to feast on flying ants that emerge after rain to start their breeding cycles.

Be sure to pack lightweight clothing to cover exposed areas, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and high factor sun lotion. And, of course, keep a raincoat nearby for the odd shower. Read this article for a complete safari packing list and this article for more about the seasons in Africa.

Please be aware of mosquitoes and wear long sleeves and long pants during the twilight and dark hours, sleep under a mosquito net and apply some form of mosquito repellent liberally. We recommend that you take precautionary prophylaxis during this period – please consult your doctor.

Beaches are often uncrowded in March – ideal for that beach and bush combo © Simon Espley

Places to consider for your March safari

SOUTHERN AFRICA

Cape Town and the Garden Route are still enjoying late summer weather, without the queues of the festive season, meaning excellent opportunities to wine, dine and chill on the beaches. Perhaps combine coastal celebrations with some bush time? Read more about bush & beach combo safari to Cape Town and Kruger.

The Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa is good for all seasons, and March is no exception. The national park is busy throughout the year, and we recommend the private reserves instead on the western edge of the park, where privacy adds to the experience. Excellent guiding increases your chances of spotting the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes).

Also in South Africa, we highly recommend a safari to Madikwe Game Reserve. Not only is this a malaria-free area, but it is also an excellent place to spot the Big 5 and other sought-after species such as cheetahs, painted wolves (wild dogs) and brown hyenas.

Rhinos enjoying lush late summer grass © Simon Espley

March is also a great time to visit just about anywhere in Botswana, as many lodges offer good green season discounts – although again wildlife sightings of popular species can be few and far between. Be aware that the areas that receive the annual Okavango Delta floodwaters from the Angolan highlands are dry at this time of year, and only permanent deep-water channels still offer water activities such as boating and mokoro outings.

The adventure capital of Victoria Falls, on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, is open for business throughout the year, and a must for any serious Africa-fanatic. March sees the beginning of the high-water season, so expect thunderous noise and to be drenched in spray.

EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

Every year half a million wildebeest are born on the southern Serengeti short grass plains in Tanzania, and in March the herds are to be found in the Ndutu and Kusini Maswa region, in the southwest of the park. Having the babies in tow means they move a bit slower. And be prepared for some afternoon rainfall in March. The herds will stay put for a while as they mow the grasses down to the stalk, before heading up north in a clockwise direction. Click here for a month-by-month description of this, the greatest show on Earth.

The Great Migration Explained story cover

Kenya’s Maasai Mara is now enjoying its ‘secret season’ when tourists are few, and resident predators get to ambush the large numbers of prey species that do not follow the herds. Resident species such as Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impalas, warthogs, topis and Coke’s hartebeests have recently calved – easy picking for the big cats made famous by BBC’s Big Cat Diaries. For many Kenyan locals, this is the best time to be in the Maasai Mara. March is the tail-end of the short rain season, so expect a few showers.

Touring in Uganda © Simon Espley

Islands such as Zanzibar, Seychelles and Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago are superb most of the year but vary as to the timing of the rainy seasons and clarity of the water (for diving), making a combined bush-and-beach vacation an irresistible choice.

Trekking for mountain gorillas, chimps and golden monkeys in Uganda’s Park and Kibale National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is now at its best, and the views across the mountains and volcanic lakes go on forever.

On the lookout for wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda © Simon Espley

For lowland gorilla trekking, head out to Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo to tick off these gentle giants plus other specials such as bongos, forest buffaloes and forest elephants. Be aware though, that March falls into the two rainy seasons (Oct-Dec and Mar-Apr), and so safari activities may be shortened or rained out.

For bird-watchers, March is a time of plenty in Uganda and Rwanda. The Albertine Rift endemics are there to be ticked off, including highly sought-after avian jewels such as green broadbill and green-breasted pitta.

A green-breasted pitta in Kibale National Park
A green-breasted pitta in Kibale National Park © Christian Boix

ADDITIONAL READING

Read other ‘Safari in Africa’ month posts:

• January safari in Africa

February safari in Africa

• April safari in Africa

May safari in Africa

• June safari in Africa

• July safari in Africa

• August safari in Africa

• September safari in Africa

• October safari in Africa

• November safari in Africa

• December safari in Africa

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