When is the best time for a safari and beach holiday?

February 20th 2018  |  Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Travel, Zambia, Zanzibar and islands, Zimbabwe  |  by  Charlotte Opperman
best time for a safari and beach holiday Seychelles
Lemuria Seychelles

A few days on the beach complement a safari perfectly.  It’s a great way to prepare for, or relax after, the early morning safari starts.  The enormous variety in accommodation style along Africa’s glorious Indian Ocean coastline – from barefoot chic hideaways to resort-style hotels – means there is something to suit everyone.

Where’s best to go when and what can you combine with what

Kenya and Tanzania have their own coastlines so offer a wonderfully seamless safari and beach combination.  You really can leave the depths of the bush and be sipping a drink by the sea in a couple of hours.  The handful of quirky spots around Lamu on Kenya’s northern coast include long time favourites Peponi and Kizingo while the beaches around Watamu further south are a mecca for snorkelling and fishing.

Alfajiri Villas, Diani Beach, Watamu, Kenya

Alfajiri Villas, Diani Beach, Watamu, Kenya

From the wildlife reserves of Tanzania it’s a short hop by air to the idyllic spice isle of Zanzibar where most of the resorts are small and intimate, each with a character of its own.  Head a little further afield and several of the outlying islands offer the ultimate in chic castaway accommodation.  The underwater world here is the Indian Ocean at its best and a real pull for snorkellers and scuba divers.   Although many safari-goers will head to Zanzibar, don’t ignore the lovely stretch of coast south of Dar es Saalam where a clutch of small resorts offer great comfort and charm.

Snorkelling of Mnemba Island, Zanzibar

Snorkelling off Mnemba Island, Zanzibar

Good all year with the exception of April to May when East Africa’s main rains come.

Madagascar is another destination where you can combine safari and beach within the same boundary.  With a natural history rich beyond belief and an amazingly diverse variety of landscape it’s an enchanting mix of wildlife and breath-taking beaches.   With over 3,000 miles of Indian Ocean coastline and 250 islands, adventurous beachgoers (you need a certain spirit to enjoy the vagaries of Madagascar) will find everything from hammocks strung between palm trees to snorkelling the colourful barrier reefs.  The latest hot spot is Time + Tide Miavana, an exclusive island beach retreat combining both safari and beach activities.

Time + Tide Miavana, Nosy Ankao, Madagascar

Time + Tide Miavana, Nosy Ankao, Madagascar

Generally best between April and October but Madagascar encompasses such a range of climatic zones, visits will be dictated by where you want to travel and what you want to see.

South Africa and Mauritius/Seychelles is an intoxicating combination of fine safaris and some of the best beaches in the world.  Mauritius is surrounded by perfect white sand beaches and the unimaginably blue Indian Ocean.  Home to superb hotels, food and hospitality with Gallic flair, and a wide range of activities, it works brilliantly with a safari.  Seychelles’ inner islands of Praslin and Mahe offer sophisticated resort style accommodation and exquisite beaches.  The more remote outer islands offer the ultimate in privacy with the chance to swim, dive, snorkel and fish in parts of the world that no castaway would want to leave.

North Island, Seychelles

North Island, Seychelles

With safari offered in both of South Africa’s climate zones, both combinations work well year round and are logistically easy to combine with direct flights from Johannesburg.

Zambia and Lake Malawi might not look like an obvious choice but it’s a classic safari and beach adventure.  Explore the Victoria Falls, Livingstone and the wonderful parks in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi regions where you can walk, canoe, day and night game drive and then head to the peaceful shores of Africa’s third largest lake for some R&R.   With none of the pressures of a large-scale tourist industry, the deserted beaches and incredibly clear waters lend themselves to all manner of activities including water skiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing and enjoying a fine view.

Kaya Mawa, Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Kaya Mawa, Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Malawi can be enjoyed year round, but as a combination with Zambia it is best May through to October.

South Africa and Mozambique works year round with a multitude of options possible.  Southern Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago boasts some of the best beach hideaways in Africa, while to the north, the Qurimbas Archipelago is a scatter of islands to match any dreamt up in a Robinson Crusoe fantasy.  Whether north or south, there are small intimate lodges offering the ultimate in desert-island getaways.

Azura Benguerra, Benguerra Archipelago, southern Mozambique

Azura Benguerra, Benguerra Archipelago, southern Mozambique

Good all year and regular flights from Johannesburg ensure easy access.

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia can all be combined with the beach but tend to require an overnight in Johannesburg.   Not that this is a real bother since most safari flights arrive mid-to-late afternoon, with the onward beach hop departing early the following morning.  Alternatively, the Maldives can be reached via an overnight flight from Johannesburg. Likewise gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda can be mixed with Kenyan or Tanzania beach spots.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about the best time for visiting the Africa’s safari and beach destinations. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

2 responses to “When is the best time for a safari and beach holiday?”

  1. Neil says:

    We are interested in a family safari and beach holiday. We are keen to go to coastline where we can water ski and perhaps kite surf. Are there any safari/beach combinations in this category. I am not so keen on Kenya because of the security issues.

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