We can hardly believe that October has arrived and the first drops of rain have touched the earth – unveiling the smell so typical and unique to Africa at that time of the year. Jacarandas are in full bloom, announcing the end of the dry season.

By Monika Korn, The Safari Source, October 2015

The weather is changing but the rainy season does not start before November. Nevertheless, this is the time to plan your safari for the African summer month (November to April). We think that this ‘secret’ season should be on your travel bucket list for various reasons: If you are looking for a rather private Africa with few people, off the beaten track and to an affordable price – then this is the perfect time for you to come. If you are living in a country where the winter is about to start, that’s another good reason to leave the cold behind and fly to Africa. However, there are many further motives to travel to Africa at this particular time of the year.

The beautiful Jacarandas are in full bloom to announce the end of the dry season, green season is about to start, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa.

The beautiful Jacarandas in full bloom announce the End of the Dry Season in Zimbabwe. Image by The Safari Source/Miriam Reiter.

1. Temperature, Rainfall & Landscape Pictures
Yes, we do have rainfalls. But they will mostly come as a short intense and heavy rain. Once the rains arrive, the flora comes alive and the bushvelds are covered in the most striking colors, united with emerald bush green and splattered with thick forests in full bloom. Stormy, dark skies, extraordinary cloud formations and lightings make for dramatic settings – a feast for the senses of any photographer wanting to take amazing scenery shots.

The days are beautiful and warm in between the rain showers, many of which occur in the afternoons or at night when the heat can rarely be taken any longer. The temperature builds up during the day and collapses in a shower for the air to become clean and fresh afterwards – temperatures cooling down nicely. Again, the photographic element comes into play when the skies clear. Green and lush bush and healthy-looking wildlife, due to the availability of food, combine with spring flowers and greenery add to the striking color setup. This also applies for the golden sand dunes and the crystal-clear blue skies of Namibia.

It’s not at all that you have the endless rainy cloudy days and foggy weather. Sometimes you will only notice in the mornings that there has been a rain shower at night because of the wet ground. Also camps adjust to the temperature and game activities will begin earlier in the morning and start later in the afternoon. During the heat of the day guests relax in the shadows of their tents or freshen up in the camps’ plunge pools.

Matopos National Park with the typical dramatic sky during rainy season, green season, rain about to come, Zimbabwe.

Matopos National Park on a rainy Day during Green Season in Zimbabwe. Image by The Safari Source/Monika Korn.

2. Wildlife, Baby Animals & Game Spotting
A concern of some travellers is that the lush and dense bush can make it more difficult to spot game. This is a reasonable worry and it is up to the well trained and professional guides which have the knowledge of the area, read the tracks and know the wildlife’s’ movements to get you up close to animals.

However, as there is enough food growing as soon as the first water touches the earth, lots of baby animals are being born. It’s a time when animals take full advantage of the abundant food to grow their family. Most species give birth during the summer month, filling the plains with adorable fawns, foals, calves and cubs. A natural result therefore is the activity of the predators which see their chance by hunting the little baby animals.

Green Season, also called Baby Season, Zebra Baby with its Mum in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Green Season is Baby Season: A Baby Zebra with its Mum in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Image by The Safari Source/Miriam Reiter.

3. Migration & Water
Areas in Botswana which are usually very dry throughout the year – such as Nxai Pan or the Kalahari Desert – start to have their migrating animals arriving. Huge herds of zebras and wildebeest are congregating into the open areas. In Botswana’s Okavango Delta game viewing becomes even more rewarding as the floodwaters withdraw, leaving more areas open for game drives and walking. Water activities are still available in the heart of the Delta, making this the ideal time to experience a water and wildlife combination.

A Lechwe Antelope crossing waters in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

A Lechwe Antelope crossing waters in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Image by Humphrey Gumpo.

4. Colours, Songs & Feathers
The green season is THE time for bird lovers to come to Southern Africa. In November the migrating birds are starting to arrive from north. They show off with their colourful and bright breeding plumage,making the region an ornithologist’s paradise. Together with the local birds the air is filled by beautiful singing and chatting.

A Lilac Breasted Roller enjoying Green Seasons lush green bush in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

A Lilac Breasted Roller enjoying Green Seasons lush green bush in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Image by The Safari Source/Monika Korn.

5. Private & Affordable
Around this time of the year, popular destinations are less crowded, which means that guests enjoy rather private game sightings, allowing for a more leisurely wildlife experience. Also, camps tend to slash their rates as soon as November has arrived. Therefore the low season months are the best for budget travellers. They will benefit from a lower rate – camps which are not on a travellers list suddenly become affordable. The prices are far lower offering great value for money.

Green Season, Leopard hiding in the tree and bush, Okavango, Botswana.

A Leopard hiding in the Bushes and Trees. Image by Satish (on Safari with The Safari Source).

6. It all depends on the Destination
South Africa has excellent weather conditions and additionally the whale watching from June to December. Along the Mozambique coastline visitors find spectacular water activities all year around. Namibia has its green season starting after New Year’s where you get great value for money and fewer people throughout the country.

Botswana’s Desert areas offer fantastic game viewing during low season, due to the amazing migration! In Zambia there is a good chance to spot the Wild Dog in South Luangwa and the rivers like the Kafue and Zambezi River are most colourful. The Victoria Falls are in their heaviest flow during the period February to May with a peak in April. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 500 metres and is visible from up to 50 km away. Zimbabwe is the place to be if one is interested in birding, particularly in Hwange National Park. The migratory birds are present and in full breeding plumage which is extra colourful. At this time of year you get nearly 100 additional bird species (on top of Hwange’s 400 recorded), as they nest there.

The Spray of the Victoria Falls is visible from far away during Green Season, Rainy Season, in Zimbabwe.

The Spray of the Victoria Falls is visible from far away during Green Season. Image by Paul Hussel (on Safari with The Safari Source).

Green Season – Yes or No?
Like mentioned above, there are some ‘not-so-good-to-go’ arguments for travelling during green season: the game is more dispersed because of enough water and food. The thick bush and the long grass make walking safaris become more dangerous. Insects are definitively more active and irritating and the malaria risk in affected areas is increasing. Some camps are inaccessible due to river crossings and airstrips become waterlogged.

However, with awareness and preparation, these factors can be looked at. The pleasant temperatures, the dramatic sky, the spectacular lush green bush, the cute baby animals and the fantastic prices easily make up for that!