May is the beginning of Botswana’s dry winter season and there’s usually no rain at all anywhere in the country. Average daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C, and it’s generally slightly warmer in the north and cooler in the south. Evenings in the north are now regularly below 15°C and by the end of the month, nights in the Kalahari can fall close to freezing. May is one of the best all-round months for visiting Botswana, with good to excellent game viewing, mild, dry weather and relatively quiet campsites and parks that get much busier later in the season.
There’s good game viewing all across Botswana, but especially in the Savuti region where herds of zebra and buffalo congregate in large numbers. As surface water evaporates, elephants return to the Linyanti Chobe River System, and to the Khwai River and northern Moremi. In the northwest panhandle, the seasonal flood waters are beginning to filter into the rest of the delta although it’ll take another few months before they percolate all the way to the southeast. The gently rising water attracts numerous resident water birds, while migrant species take to the skies in numbers and begin the long journey north.
By May, the muddy park roads have thoroughly dried, leaving deep gouges and folds where vehicles struggled through the sludge. It can be slow going and bumpy, but there’s little chance of getting stuck. By the end of the month it should be safe to cross from Lekhubu to Gweta, but don’t leave the main track. The top of the pan dries to a thin, harmless-looking crust, but there’s often thick mud underneath that will trap even a tough 4x4.