Why Book Your Zambia Safari Holiday in the Emerald Season?


It’s an underrated time of the year yet one of the best for a Zambia safari holiday in the South Luangwa and Kafue for those that love baby animals, stunning sunsets and special seasonal birding.

Walking safari through South Luangwa from Shawa Luangwa Camp

Walking safari through South Luangwa from Shawa Luangwa Camp © Gerben van der Waals

Summer in Zambia is celebrated not only for its warmer temperatures and longer days but also for the increased rainfall that gives the bush its yearly fresh coat of vivid green ‘paint’. That’s why, if you visit Zambia’s national parks, like Kafue and South Luangwa during the months of November to April, you’ll understand why it’s called the Emerald Season. So, why is a Zambia safari holiday during the underrated green season so exciting? Let’s find out just three of the reasons, although there are many more!

The season of the baby boom

Be ready for a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ during your Zambia safari holiday because this is the birthing season for elephants, zebra, impala and most other ungulates. The rains transform the brown, dusty bush into a green playground, ideal for baby animals to be raised in. There is plenty of luscious vegetation to munch on and water to drink – and for the baby elephants to splash around in – during the hot summer days.

Elephants drink from the Kafue River © Gerben van der Waals

Elephants drink from the Kafue River © Gerben van der Waals

These newborns have to learn to walk within minutes of dropping if they are going to stand a chance of survival as they are easy pickings for predators both big and small. On their spindly legs, these young game animals are vulnerable, and with their full bellies, the adults in the herds make for a long-lasting meal. That’s why in the South Luangwa and Kafue, both strongholds of Africa’s big cats, predator action increases over the wet season in these national parks.

The season of spectacular sunsets

Afternoon showers are common and after the heat of the day, their power of rejuvenation is appreciated by wildlife, humans and plants alike. The often sudden downpour is followed quickly by blue skies and sunshine. It puts the day’s final sparkle into the scenery, as water droplets twinkle on leaves and birds bath joyfully in the newly formed pools. The sky is so clear you can see for miles, which is what makes Zambian sunsets particularly ‘wow’ at this time of the year.

The plunge pool at Ila Safari Lodge overlooks the Kafue River © Gerben van der Waals

The plunge pool at Ila Safari Lodge overlooks the Kafue River © Gerben van der Waals

To top it off, these conditions are perfect for rainbows to dazzle you before the sun begins its descent behind the horizon. Whether it be the Luangwa or Kafue, when the late afternoon light reflects off these rivers each day, you will fall in love all over again with the surreal beauty of Zambia. These days that are bookended by glowing sunshine and cloudless skies are sought after by photographers and artists.

Also Read: Zambia Luxury Safaris Get Eco-Conscious with Green Safaris

The season of colourful feathered visitors

Zambia’s main national parks are fantastic year-round birding destinations. The country’s total recorded species count is around 733, with Kafue hosting around 480 and South Luangwa over 400 of these. It’s a remarkable list that includes Pel’s fishing owl, Verreaux’s eagle owl, Southern ground hornbill, the black-cheeked lovebird and Chaplin’s barbet. The ornithology-enthusiasts out there will tell you that the green season is when you really want to book a birdwatching safari.

Southern carmine bee-eaters on the banks of the Luangwa River © Gerben van der Waals

Southern carmine bee-eaters on the banks of the Luangwa River © Gerben van der Waals

This is because these parks welcome feathered visitors that migrate southwards to the continent’s warmer region in summer. Birds like Montagu’s harrier and yellow-billed storks arrive, some in particularly dazzling breeding plumage! There is one bird migration in Zambia that has become famous and brings avid birders to the South Luangwa annually. In mid-to-late-August, thousands of Southern carmine bee-eaters flock to the Luangwa River, turning the banks into a hive of colourful and noisy activity. The couple up to breed, nest and raise their chicks, before journeying north to the rainforests of equatorial Africa.

When you are ready to book your Zambia safari holiday, contact Green Safaris to make it one that is ‘green’ in another sense – eco-friendly, sustainable and responsible.

All photographs courtesy of Gerben van der Waals.





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