Rains fall in Zambia between November and April, deterring some visitors, though for die-hard safari enthusiasts, the ‘emerald’, ‘green’ or ‘secret’ season as it is varyingly known, is actually one of the most spectacular times to visit. Our Zambia safari expert, Samantha Gee, looks at why the ‘secret season’ attracts those in the know.
The onset of the rains bring new life to the dry landscapes of Zambia, turning them from dusty, faded yellow and brown, to bright, fresh green, contrasting with the cornflower blue of the sky. The scenery is stunning, a photographer’s dream, with brimming rivers and lagoons and the Luangwa Valley at its most dramatic.
The South Luangwa has a high concentration of wildlife year round, with hippo, crocodile, zebra, lion and leopard in abundance. The green season sees the birth of baby animals, creating memorable photographic opportunities as well as attracting predators seeking easy prey. Whilst higher grass fed by warm rains can make wildlife harder to spot, a boating safari on the Luangwa River will bring you face-to-face with crocs and hippos. Bird life is prolific, as migratory birds such as Lillian’s Lovebirds and the brightly coloured Fire-crowned Bishops make their annual pilgrimage to feed and breed. This is the best time of year for bird spotting.
Whilst you’re likely to get wet, in contrast to damp winters in the northern hemisphere, showers here are usually short, occasionally dramatic and typically interspersed with bright sunshine and clear night skies. With fewer visitors at this time of year, game drives are far less crowded than during peak season, allowing more intimate interaction with the natural environment with less competition for prime viewing spots.
Camp prices are also advantageous with special green season itineraries at particularly attractive rates. Last year, for example, guests travelling before 10th April may enjoy a week’s safari in Zambia for just £3,215 per person inclusive of seven night’s full board at a combination of Kakuli Bush Camp, Kapani and newly opened Chinzombo, standard bar drinks, transfers, game viewing, international flights between Zambia and the UK, domestic flights and park fees. As a further boon, there are no single supplements applied.
With incredible flora, fauna, kaleidoscopic colours, minimal human impact and generous pricing whether you call it green, emerald or secret, this is a great time to visit Zambia.