Emerald Season Safaris
01 November to 21 May
November to March when the rains fall then; April and May as the bush dries out
Every year we encourage our guests to come in the “Emerald Season”. It is the most underrated experience in the bush. This is the summer months in Zambia when there is rainfall and the bush changes in many ways. Some areas become flooded and inaccessible and some parks close completely (Lower Zambezi). However, areas of the South Luangwa are operational and we are open at Nkwali and Robin's House throughout this time. We also open Nsefu Camp mid Jan to end March for boating safaris in the heart of the park. To us this is a most spectacular time of the year in the Luangwa Valley. It is also excellent value with lower rates.
Why the Emerald Season?
- Excellent for photography. Much less dust and crystal clear air.
- Wonderful birding with the migrant and resident birds in breeding plumage, heronries and avarian kindegardens in Feb/March
- Births and nursery herds of young (impala, warthog drop early Nov, and it is peak time for elephants, zebra and many more)
- The bush is green, beautiful and lush and the skies are blue , dramatic afternoon skies with spectacular clouds and light
- Luangwa River is high and dramatic so wonderful boating (especially for the River Journeys at Nsefu Camp)
- No single supplement
- Fewer people around
Why RPS for an Emerald Season safari?
- We have three "ali" boats (swamp cruisers) for trips on the river.
- Uniquely, we have direct access to the park by boat, both day and night - from Nkwali.
- We offer walks throughout the year
- We offer River Journeys - combining Luangwa River Camp, Nsefu Camp and Nkwali (drives, boating, walks at Nkwali and boating, walks at Nsefu).
And, in the Times Online, Mark Hodson visits Zambia at the 'wrong' time of year to see why wetter is better.
Read John and Jill Whillock's account of their Christmas Emerald Season Safari.
Special Interest Safaris
During the Emerald Season we offer a wide range of safaris with fixed departure dates that have an specific interest as the focus of the safari, or go to a different destination that offers a unique wildlife experience.
- 3: Special Interest
The Emerald Season Wildlife Calendar
The Emerald Season runs from November to mid May.
At the start of the rains the river is so low we can walk across and the valley is dry and dusty. As the rains fall, from occasional storms (Nov/Dec) to storms passing through most nights (Jan/Feb), and then abating again (March/April) the bush changes to a dramatic vibrant green. At the peak the lagoons are brimming and the river is full.
November and December are months of rebirth.
After a long dry season, the first storms arrive with plenty of drama - thunder and lightening. The bush is bursting with new life - the emerald green grass pushes through and the new leaves are growing. The green is incredibly intense everywhere - with the purples and pinks (and yellows) of the flowers scattered throughout. There is an influx of migratory birds with spirals of migrating storks and also the cuckoos and other "specials" like the Angola pitta. (see It's Monday 29 November 2004)
January, February, March
The river now rises rapidly and can come right to the top of the banks (see It's Monday 10 January 2005). This gives incredible boating experiences - when you can boat from the river into the lagoon systems (see It's Monday 17 January 2005). These months are the peak breeding months for the birds and there are colonies of weavers nests hanging over lagoons, trees simply full of heron and stork nests and the more secretive birds like gallinules and Angola pitas can still be found. The gameviewing continues to be excellent as much of the game stays on the dry ground - the roads! This is when we start regularly seeing the wild dog in the area (see It's Monday 21 March 2005).
As we end March the migrant birds are near the end of their breeding, the bush is lush and the skies incredibly blue. The river is high and we can have a lot of fun boating around. The lagoons are full and the water birds everywhere. This is a wonderful time of the year. And it is peak time for WILD DOG viewing (see It's Monday 9 May 2005). Through the months of April and May, the river slowly drops, the bush colours turn from green to golden yellow, the lagoons start to shrink and the migratory birds prepare for their long journeys.