One of the most frequent questions I am asked when people first come to me for advice is “when is the best time of year to do safari?”. Naturally this varies from country to country and depends on the type of game viewing you would like to do, but overall, most parts of Africa offer fantastic game viewing year round. The long rains in East Africa (April and May) make many areas inaccessible, some camps in Zambia are closed between November and May, as are a handful of those in Botswana, but overall, safari is a year round possibility as long as you are a little flexible.
In recent years however, there has been an increasing number of camps across Africa offering some fantastic packages in what is considered the “Green Season”. This varies from destination to destination and whilst you can expect to experience some rains when you are travelling in Green Season, you will find the grasses lush, the waterholes full and the game viewing plentiful. The herds of plains game such as Antelope and Zebra will be giving birth to their young, making for some fantastic sightings and drawing in the predators from many miles around. The other huge advantage is the price, meaning you can enjoy a safari at a fraction of its peak season price.
I have included below my thoughts and experiences of travelling across Africa during Green Season and why this is, for me, the time to enjoy your African Safari.
We start in Zambia, home of the walking safari and one of the best destinations in Africa to see the often elusive Leopard. The Green Season runs from November to April and shuts many of the National Parks and camps, although the South Luangwa National Park, still has excellent access and offers superb game viewing. The density of Lion and Leopard is really astonishing here, better than anywhere I have been in Africa and makes for some stunning game viewing. Travelling to the South Luangwa in Zambia during the green season also affords the opportunity to explore the river and lagoons by boat, getting up close to hippos and crocodiles. Wild dog sightings are also very good at this time of year too.
Now we move on from Zambia to the lush plains of Kenya.
Kenya, the spiritual home of the safari is next for us to consider. Whilst April and May are best avoided owing to the heavy rains and cooler temperatures, there is still the low season of October to December where you can take advantage of lower prices, much quieter camps and reserves and fantastic game viewing.
A couple of great places to stay during the “Green Season” in Kenya include the famous Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park. This lodge is perched high on a rocky outcrop, with the open sided rooms offering stunning views out into the reserve and has a wonderful elegant yet laid back feel to it. You will be able to enjoy game drives by day and night, guided walks and even fishing trips should you wish. The infinity pool is beautifully located overlooking the endless plains of the reserve and sitting in the pool with a cocktail as the run sets is not to be missed! In the iconic Masai Mara, a great place to stay during “Green Season” is Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp. The camp is located in one of the conservancies of the Mara, meaning you get a much more private and less crowded safari experience than if you were in the main part of the Mara. As the name would suggest, Cottar’s has a real colonial feel to it, with elegant, spacious tents with welcoming beds to relax in after a long day exploring the reserve.
Another area that deserves a visit during the "Green Season" is Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe where the new grass growth on the open spaces of the Ngamo Plains leads to congregations of a variety of grazers. Namibia is predominantly a desert country so the rainfall in many parts is relatively low but nonetheless these normally arid areas can spring into colour and rivers that are usually dry may briefly flow. In areas with scattered rainfall game can be found concentrated near the pockets of water and vegetation. The Victoria Falls can easily be included in a Southern Africa itinerary and it is a great year round destination with the falls approaching their thunderous peak at the end of the green season.
So don’t let the rain put you off. Despite the great experiences that can be had at this time of year fewer people travel in the green season meaning that those who do are able to enjoy the bush, animals and birds in relative privacy. You will also be able to take advantage of the reduced rates that many camps offer, making a safari in Southern Africa more affordable.
If you are interested in going on safari during the “Green Season” then get in touch with us on 020 7843 3500 and our experts can start planning your dream safari adventure today.
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