Green Season Splendour

Wild Zambezi travel network partners • 9 January 2021

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The Green Season in the wilderness is truly a celebration of the wonder of life.  In the Zambezi Valley, the start of the rains brings spectacular cloudscapes, awesome thunderstorms and wonderful, life-giving water.  

Within a short space of time, there is a frenetic growth spurt.  Grasses shoot almost while you watch, leaves sprout, flowers open, insects hatch, impalas, warthogs and other wild animals time the birth of their babies to coincide with an abundance of food, and the summer migrant birds are everywhere.  The air is alive with sound of cicadas, brilliant butterflies and dragonflies flit, dung-beetles energetically scurry to pack and roll their balls of poo to safety ready for egg-laying, and all the animals of the wild look sleek and healthy and well-fed.  

THIS is a wonderful time to be on safari.  It can be challenging, and you need to be self-sufficient, or rely on an experienced tour operator.  Road access can be very restricted in remote areas after heavy rain, temperatures and humidity are high, and visibility is less easy than in the dry season because of leaf-cover.  But if you’re up for an adventure, a Green Season Safari is an AWESOME experience.

This month, some of Wild Zambezi's travel network partners have highlighted something special about this Green Season Splendour to share with you.

Here’s what you can look forward to…..

1.  African Bush Camps -  Bumi Hills (Lake Kariba) and Mana Pools

The green season is a safari aficionado's best-kept secret. This 'secret' season is perfect for birders, photographers and anyone who likes baby animals.
The synchronisation of births during this time is a privilege to witness. The season exhibits rejuvenation, and with all this family activity, it is a beautiful time to create new memories with your loved ones.

One of the best settings to witness this period (from now until end March) is Bumi Hills Safari Lodge that offers expansive views of Lake Kariba. As one of the largest human-made lakes in the world, it's a dream to explore. Boat-rides allow visitors to watch the youngest of the herds gathering on land, or to have a go at catching an elusive "Tigerfish",  and the remote location makes you feel as though you are exploring a secret corner of the world. 

Zambezi Expeditions in the Mana Pools National Park is a mobile safari camp that offers a unique perspective of this 'river of life'. Here, travellers escape to one of the most beautiful and wildest parts of the world.  Here, in the green season, on the banks of the Zambezi River, you can truly experience an African paradise.


2.  Changa Safari Camp - Lake Kariba

The green season is the most meaningful time at Changa Safari Camp in our usually hot and dry Matusadona National Park  on the shores of Lake Kariba. It is now that the rains rescue nature from the long slow searing hot days that have endured for most of the safari season .

With the onset of the rains everything changes.  Those first few drops of life-giving moisture re-awaken and rescue nature and our camp bursts into life.

Who can forget that petrichor smell of the first rains on the dry and dusty ground?  Everything buds, hatches and gives birth, it is once again the time of plenty and all celebrate and rejoice this new life season. 

Visibility around camp closes up as nature paints over the sparse dry browns with thick, vibrant hues of electric green as everything blossoms speedily back to life.  Out views close in and it's less easy to spot animals in and around camp.

The cicadas (Christmas beetles) hatch out of dormancy and sing with joy, and the flying ants take wing in masses at night resulting in a gourmet feast for everything.

Red velvet spider mites decorate the ground with their vibrant scarlets in stark contrast to the browns and new greens. Impalas give birth to a new generation and babies can be found everywhere in nursery groups around the park and in front of camp. 

Of course this is prime predator time, too, so the impala nursery nannies are on high alert. And so the circle of life continues and we, in camp, get a front-row seat to this spectacle! 


3.  Old Drift Lodge (Wild Horizons) - Zambezi River, Victoria Falls

Lockdown has given families time together that they might not have had, and with our latest special, a family getaway to Old Drift Lodge has never been more affordable. 

The Green Season is one of the most enchanting times of the year at Old Drift Lodge. The days are characterized by exciting game drives, the cloud formations create spectacular sunsets, and with the lull in travel, there is a sense of exclusivity on the Zambezi River and in the National Park. Natural beauty is juxtaposed with modern comforts and thoughtful touches to give you uninterrupted quality time with your loved ones. All you need to do is relax, explore and let our team take care of you. 

Though the lodge may have been closed for a time, it certainly was not empty. Throughout lockdown, a herd of elephant visited us every day, grazing on the leafy treetops, wallowing in the watering hole and swimming in the Zambezi River. 

Share stories around the sunken fire-pit, indulge in gourmet meals, sink into a bubble bath under the stars and float in your private plunge pool while watching the Zambezi River meander past. For a limited time only, guests can stay for extraordinary special rates, and with a 60% discount, you can save now and stay later. You are just an email away from the safari of a lifetime.


4.  Safaris 4 Africa (Harare-based, regional Destination Management Company and Travel Planner)

Here's what Safaris 4 Africa's experienced Travel Planner, Gwen Wawn, says: "I love the green season as the colours in the bush are so vibrant; there are myriads of insects, demonstrating the diversity of this “reborn” habitat: the birds have all nested and the fledgings are being fed, or being given flying lessons and the young animals are becoming braver and more inquisitive.  All of this can give hours of pleasure simply watching the magic of nature.  Being a keen photographer and naturalist I find this one of the most charming times of the year. I invite you to come and join us on an incredible journey." 


5.  Simwenge Fishing Lodge - Zambezi River, near Deka (downstream from Victoria Falls)

As the Zambezi River rises and falls throughout the rainy season, it brings with it the most beautiful sights and sounds.

A green-season drift in a boat down this tranquil section of the river near Simwenge Fishing Lodge reveals a complete contrast to the leafless, arid landscape of the dry season.  What is usually a bank of black rock cliffs has been transformed into the most lush green bush - with mighty Baobabs hidden by the thick canopies of other trees and vines.  

The birds & ducks (which are prolific during the summer rains) have their own little safe watering holes to drink from in front of the lodge at Simwenge.  The baby impala have shrub to hide away in until they are strong enough to escape predators and the zebra are covered in mud as they roll in the puddles to keep the flies away. 

It truly is a magical time to visit.  We long to have you at Simwenge Lodge this year.  Green season or dry season, put it on your bucket list!


6.  Stretch Ferreira Safaris - Mana Pools

The “Green” or “Wet” season as it is known in Mana Pools National Park follows the wonderful summer rains that occur each year from November through to April.

With the rains comes an abundance of new life and by May Goliath Camp and Stretch are ready to welcome their first new season guests.  

The bush is spectacularly lush with flowering vegetation and the ground is now dry enough for walking safaris. Pans are bursting with water plants and aquatic life; colourful arrays of butterflies and insects are everywhere; and best of all the park is filled with lots of families of young animals.  Our keen birding clients can look forward to great sightings of migratory birds who will be settling back in the park and preparing to nest.

Stretch will say that every season in Mana has it’s uniqueness when it comes to photography but the green season light is arguably the best.  Colours are more vibrant and the contrasting stormy afternoon skies make for perfect backdrops.  Photographic opportunities are everywhere and as a keen photographer himself Stretch is constantly looking for that perfect shot for his guests.

If you like long days and summery cool afternoons then this time of the year is definitely for you.


7.  Off 2 Africa (Harare-based, Southern African Destination Management Company and Travel Planner)

The first rains of the season in Africa usher in a glorious time of year when spirits are lifted, the relief of drought-ridden land palpable in the petrichor, and when the promise of new life can be felt on the scented air. Zimbabwe, in all her intense glory, is ready for a dazzling green season!

The green season is always an adventure; from witnessing the new arrivals in the animal kingdom to getting stuck in a muddy riverbed with the utmost fun had digging oneself out - an experience had in Gonarezhou National Park by our very own Off 2 Africa travel consultant Chloe! 

We love this time of year and so look forward to sharing our knowledge of the best spots and hidden gems with you while you plan your own adventures.


8.  Rhino Safari Camp (Matusadona N Park, Lake Kariba)

A great deal has been written about being on safari in the bush in the Green Season, but one thing is for is an experience not to be missed. And with the uncertainty and challenges surrounding the new wave of Covid-19 infections, Rhino Safari Camp in the Matusadona National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba are offering you the opportunity to REDUCE THE RISK AND GO EXCLUSIVE this green season.  Activities include fishing, game drives, walks and tracking. Contact us for more info on how to book our camp for the exclusive use of families or friend groups. 


9.  Zambezi Horse Safaris (Victoria Falls)

The green season brings new magic, from small niches of survival and regeneration in drought years, to the triumph of growth that reasonable rain brings: herbs you’ve forgotten, a confusion of insects and strange fungi – so much to observe, discover and remember.  And being on horseback makes it all more tangible, more sensual.

Then there are rare years like this one, when superb rain in the Victoria Falls area leaves one almost blinded by greens until you start to see the variations, now tempered by the russets of early flowering grasses. Rivers flow, long lost springs find their way to the surface: the world is renewed.

And the wildlife. There may not be the drama and immediacy of the dry season. But quiet discoveries have their own richness: impala lambs in their fragile perfection, wildebeest calves, the charm of warthog piglets. Kudu suddenly luminous in a hazy green clearing. Zebra stripes flickering through dense leaves to coalesce suddenly into a herd with foals, dancing and calling around you.  Buffalo well fed and wallowed in open green vleis. 

And when you think you’re seeing nothing, look closely: there is always life.

10.  Spurwing Island (Matusadona National Park, Lake Kariba)

The green season is upon us once again on Lake Kariba's Spurwing Island.  This time of year is renowned for its beauty and abundance of life…  But... distracting from this beauty is the amount of rubbish washing up onto the shoreline of the lake.  

A huge "Well Done" to young guests recently staying at Spurwing, who put their own spin on the green season and took the initiative to remove rubbish to help protect our beautiful Matusadona National Park and the wildlife in it.  

Thank you!  It's because of people like Dan, Mickey and Daniel (pictured), who care about the value of this wildlife area, that the natural beauty of Lake Kariba will be protected into the future.


11.  Travel Portfolio (Harare-based regional Destination Management Company and Travel Planner

The Green Season is a wonderful time to travel.  Whether it is fishing on Lake Kariba (with a view like this) or enjoying the wildlife (and their babies) thriving on lush, thick vegetation in Hwange National Park or enjoying the thunderous roar of the Victoria Falls without the crowds (and with the Zambezi River in full spate) – the team at Travel Portfolio will assist you – and ensure that you receive the very best deals possible!

To minimise the risk of COVID-19, we are encouraging family groups to travel together.  Contact us for specials available for groups of 6 – 8 people for 3 and 4 night stays.


12.  Musango Island Safari Camp - Matusadona National Park, Lake Kariba

The Zambezi Valley is blessed with an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, with Lake Kariba being no exception. 

At Musango Safari Camp, the transformation from the dry brown, crunchy Champagne Season of August to November to what we call “the green explosion” or Emerald Season of December to March is simply mind blowing.  The images above show this clearly - and they were taken within just a month of each other!

One cannot be blamed for thinking that one is on a different planet or in another country, the meteoric metamorphosis is unbelievable.

Like a magic wand, the attractive, puffy clouds soon grow into gargantuan rain-filled mountains releasing the life-giving showers onto the dust-covered and parched earth below, transforming once skeletal-looking trees into living limbs

These dramatic thunder clouds herald the end of the hot dry Champagne season to that of our  “green explosion” and, in what appears is an instant, the bush comes alive, calling out to all creatures great and small to rejoice. And rejoice they do- screaming out for all the distant migrant birds to fly in and build their nests, raise young and for most mammals to drop their off spring to enjoy the lush luxury. 

What used to be dry and desolate-looking game trails soon turn into lush foliated tunnels of green.

The sights and smells are hypnotic – its no wonder we celebrate the smell of the first rains - called Petrichor - and a scent that will live with you forever, constantly reminding you of our wonderful bush heritage.

Come and enjoy this wonder of nature at Musango Safari Camp an island on the shores of Lake Kariba and the Matusadona National Park.


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