The year in Botswana may be divided into three seasons. These are indicated below.
In terms of birding, there is no bad time of the year to visit Botswana.
1. May to August: cool to cold. Dry.
Clear skies and sunny weather virtually guaranteed. Nights (especially June to mid August) may be cold, even occasionally freezing. Early mornings cool to cold, but temperatures from 09h00 to late afternoon mild and pleasant. You will need warm clothing (or a blanket) for the early morning birding done in an open 4x4 and possibly for the evening, too, as the temperature quickly drops at sunset.
During these months most migratory birds are absent, but the birding can still be good and the first intra-African migratory bird species (Yellow-billed and Black Kites and Wahlberg’s Eagles) arrive late August. At this time of the year, it should be noted, you can still see a lot more species of birds than you would expect to see at the peak birding time of the year in Europe or North America.
2. September to October: Hot and dry.
The hot dry season can extend to mid, even late, Nov. in some drier years. Temperatures can soar to over 40° C in the middle of the day and early afternoon, dropping to around 30° C at night. Whilst it can certainly be hot at this time of the year, it should be borne in mind that DRY heat is much more tolerable than humid heat.
Drink plenty of liquids to keep from dehydrating.
Many areas, especially in the Chobe N.P. and parts of Moremi, look desolate and threadbare and food resources for game animals are depleted.
There is a small chance of light rain during this period, but this very rarely interferes with birding activities.
A number of African and Eurasian migratory birds arrive to swell the ranks of resident species. Many bird species breed at this time.
3. Hot and wet: November to April.
The onset of the rains brings down the temperature a few degrees, but it can still be hot with daytime temperatures in the high 30s. Humidity rises, especially during Dec. to Feb., the months of greatest rainfall, but never reaches the uncomfortable high humidity of tropical rainforest areas. Droughts, however, are common in Botswana, so it may not cool down much at this time. By the end of March the heat has diminished somewhat and April may be relatively mild with game species starting to concentrate again around perennial water as pans start to dry out. (A few large pans in a year of abundant rain hold water until Sept. or even Oct.).
Within a couple of weeks of the first good rains (any time from Nov. to Dec.), the desperately dry, dusty and khaki-grey bush is transformed into a verdant wonderland. In a good rainy season the pans fill up by December and these attract good numbers of birds. Some nature enthusiasts find this season the most attractive time of the year, enjoying the vitality of the rejuvenated bush. Bird life is at its peak, especially in the period late Nov. to March. By early Dec. all the migratory species have arrived in Botswana. In prime birding areas, such as the northern Chobe National Park/Kasane area, keen, energetic and experienced birders can record around 300 species in three or four days.
The wet roads in this season present 4x4 driving challenges in certain places, especially in “black cotton” soil.
There is an explosion of insect life following rain, but insects are rarely the nuisance that many people imagine them to be, and this need not deter travellers.
Some private safari camps and lodges offer special (reduced) “green season” rates during the months of November to March, something of particular interest to birders.