Safari Forecast - SeptemberBy Megan Conn
September 1, 2021
September is a fantastic time to visit the Masai Mara. The area experiences beautiful sunny and dry weather in September, with an average daily high of 80°F. In September, you can witness the sight of millions of animals moving in the Great Migration and have a good chance of witnessing wildebeest crossing the Mara River.
Travel to Kenya is now easier than ever. AirKenya Express recently announced they have fully vaccinated their whole workforce. AirKenya Express MD Captain Dino Bisleti said that hygiene stations, an infrared thermal screen, contactless check-in, airplane fumigation, and face masks as part of our uniform were all installed prior to operations resuming. They have formed a partnership with AMREF to provide testing services for our travelers who need a Covid-19 certificate for onward travel.
The migration can also be seen in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The Serengeti is Tanzania’s version of Kenya’s Masai Mara, and it’s strikingly similar in appearance but on a far bigger scale. The wildebeest migration crosses borders and takes place between the two parks.
Tanzania, like Kenya, has announced measures to make travel easier and safer for all. The Swiss airline, Edelweiss Air, will travel twice weekly, on Fridays and Saturdays, from Zurich to Kilimanjaro International Airport from October 8, 2021. One of the flights will continue on to Zanzibar after a stop in Kilimanjaro. Edelweiss Air is a sister company of Swiss International Air Lines.
Tanzania is distributing free vaccinations to its residents, and hospitality workers are a focus. The ambitious free vaccination drive began on August 9 in Arusha, Tanzania’s safari tourism center. Almost 7,000 frontline employees will be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Serengeti is one of Africa’s most well-known parks, for its abundance of animals and typical African landscape. It is the oldest park in Tanzania and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the site of the magnificent annual wildebeest migration and provides excellent animal viewing all year. The migration can be witnessed in the park’s north in September. The Serengeti is part of the same ecosystem as the Masai Mara and also offers some of Africa’s greatest big cat sightings.
Further south this is a great time to visit the Okavango Delta. The Okavango lies in the midst of Botswana’s dry Kalahari Desert and sustains a variety of animals in a setting of spectacular natural beauty. In September, floodwaters are subsiding and animals are congregating around the life-giving water. You can still take part in water-based activities such as taking a traditional dugout canoe ride in many areas. This is the best time of year to spot elusive predators as vegetation is sparse and they follow their prey animals.
Masai Mara – Kenya.
The Masai Mara is rich in wildlife and has open terrain that allows for easy wildlife viewing. The annual wildebeest migration takes place in the Mara when 2.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles follow the storms in quest of fresh pasture. Between July and August, they travel from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, where they generally arrive in September.
One of the attractions of this incredible show is the crossing of the Mara River. September and October are best for watching the dramatic sight of thousands of wildebeests crossing the Mara River while navigating uneven terrain and the huge crocodiles that lie in wait.
The Masai Mara is also among Africa’s greatest places to watch big cats with leopards, lions, and cheetahs frequently seen. In normal years the Mara can get crowded with visitors at this time but visitor numbers are expected to be fewer this year- making it the perfect time to witness one of the greatest shows on earth. Nights can be chilly so bring along warm gear for early morning and late evening game drives.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
September in the Serengeti offers lovely temperate, dry, and sunny weather with few mosquitos and the chance if you are lucky to see part of the Great Migration.
The scenery of Africa is typified here with wide rolling grasslands, golden savanna, and flat-topped acacia trees. The yearly wildebeest migration is the main attraction, and being able to watch it is a remarkable soul-stirring opportunity. Between September and November, wildebeest and zebra may begin to migrate south from Kenya, crossing the Masai Mara (depending on water levels and rainfall), making a river crossing feasible. Of course, rains might arrive late or early, changing the timing of events from year to year.
There are also large populations of zebra, buffalo, elephant, and giraffe, and a variety of gazelle and antelope species. The Serengeti is also famous for its high population of predators, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and wild dogs.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Okavango Delta spills into the parched Kalahari Desert and provides a unique haven for a diverse range of animals. September is one of the finest months for wildlife watching, nature walks, and even horseback safaris in the delta. As seasonal water sources like rain-fed waterholes dry up, animals are attracted from afar to this enormous freshwater wetland in the midst of the desert.
Summer in the Okavango Delta begins in September, with temperatures rising steadily until the rains arrive in November. The days are hot, bright, and sunny, with magnificent sunsets due to the dry weather and dust. Temperatures are steadily rising at night, and daytime temperatures are beginning to skyrocket.
If you can take the heat, you’ll be rewarded with some of the greatest game watching in Africa. Huge herds of animals, as well as their ever-present predators, congregate around scarce water and grazing resources. The Okavango Delta supports large concentrations of birds and animals at any time of year, but in September and October more so than ever.
The Okavango Delta’s water levels are gradually decreasing in September. The waning flood could affect dugout canoe trips near the end of the month. The southern areas are the first to dry out, so go north and east if this activity is important to you.