Climate, weather, and sightings
The golden question… when is the best time to travel? If you ask us, we would say ‘all year!’
There is no simple answer to that question as there are many variables that will determine what the right answer is for you specifically. We have put together some details for you to consider which will certainly go a long way to help you decide.
All year round there are several highlights. Below is a guide to the weather climate and to what sightings can be
generally like. But do remember; nothing is as unpredictable as the weather and the animals (sightings)!
The “Emerald Season” is one of regrowth, replenishment, and rebirth. The birds are breeding and its peak birth season of many animals. The rainfall is at its highest during these months, but it mostly falls at night. With the rainfall, the Victoria Falls get to the peak of their flow around March. There is increased boating experiences in South Luangwa, Zambia and Liwonde National Park, Malawi due to the risingriver levels – great explorations into the various lagoon systems. As these are peak breeding months for the birds, there is so much to see and appreciate. There are colonies of weavers’ nests hanging over lagoons, trees simply full of herons, plovers and stork nests and the more secretive birds like gallinules and Angola pitas can still be found. The game viewing 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.
Weather: Warm / need waterproofs.
The rains have gone but there is the odd potential rainstorm around. The skies are clear and it’s warm. Days get shorter and nights get cooler as we head into the cooler season. The grass is now tall and green, the skies are clear and blue, the new generation of birds have left the nests and the migrants start to leave. Most of the lagoons away from the main rivers are still filled with water and so game is more spread out as it was before the rains arrived. Flow of the Victoria Falls is at its peak. We also start to explore further north in Zambia to Bangweulu Swamps in search of the elusive Shoebill; only found in 5 countries of the world. This is any keen birder’s bucket list specie!
Weather: Warm in the day and not yet cold at night.
This is now the “dry season” and is also our winter. There is a definite chill in the air and safaris both in the mornings and the evenings are accompanied by blankets and hot water bottles. The grass dries up and dies back, this makes for easier game sightings when on safari. With the bush thinning out, this is a great time for walking safaris.
Weather: warm days but cold at night and in the early mornings. Jackets needed.
Bush dry. Lagoons now obviously shrinking in the rivers and the flow of the Victoria Falls decreasing. It is evident that bush conditions for the herbivores now deteriorates – all the better for the carnivores. As the last lagoons dry up away from the rivers, sightings of the bigger game are a lot more predictable. In Malawi we start seeing eland, sable, hartebeest more often as they’re forced down to the river to quench their thirst.
Weather: August brings with it a mixed bag of weather with hot days and cool evenings.
The temperatures rise and the air becomes hazy. As spring sets in, the trees lose their leaves while many of the combretum bushes flower in preparation of the rains in November. The distinctive squawk of the Broad-billed Rollers announcing their arrival into the area cannot be missed. Days get hotter and even in the evening temperatures do not drop as they did only a few weeks ago. The sausage trees flower and the fallen flowers are a welcome relief for bushbuck. The stunning carmine bee eaters build their nests along the riverbanks and is a must see!
Weather: Hot, dry, and hazy. Trees flower and lose leaves.
October brings with it drama as the heat and the drought forces most animals into survival mode. In areas away from the river grazing is non-existent; other than at a few inland man-made watering holes, most of the animals spend their time close to the river where water is always available. For the lucky (and the patient), the watering holes can be a good place to wait for elephants, buffalo, eland and perhaps rhino (in Malawi) to come and drink.
Weather: Very dry and hot with cloud build up, could have occasional rain when it can cool down and clear the air. It can be very hot.
An extremely beautiful and exciting time of the year. There is an influx of migratory birds with spirals of migrating storks, kingfishers, cuckoos, and other “specials” like the Angola pitta. Butterflies explode and flitter about. The onset of the rains can also bring a deluge of flying ants and other insects (sometimes in big proportions, but normally lasting a few hours). With the insects come the cooler temperatures but also the humidity. Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon but generally it clears up and blue skies form a magical contrast with the lush green landscapes. The fruit bats in Kasanka National Park, Zambia are at their peak with a few million to be seen (an incredible wildlife phenomenon!).
Weather: Hot, slightly humid. Early rains vary from the odd shower to short periods of daily afternoon storms. These can be very dramatic with wind, dark clouds, and shafts of light, sheet lightening.
How does RPS cater for rainy days?
The upside to rainy season is the huge contrast of colours clear atmospherics make for great sunsets, dramatic skies, and great crystal-clear subjects to photograph. Rainy season is a little bit of a misnomer, primarily because on the whole the rain falls in short sharp isolated thunderstorms. Occasionally the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) brings us frontal rain). This happens 2-3 times a year. Our guides have become pretty good ‘weathermen’ and will aim to get back in time. We still get out there to see what is to be seen. This is a time of plenty and plenty of new life, in all life forms. The bush is a vibrant green/emerald colour, beautifully decorated with pops of different colours from the flowers. Just the sheer beauty of the bush is a major sighting of its own. There are ponchos available for going on safari, and umbrella’s available in the rooms. Dining remains flexible. From dining under the stars when it’s dry to under cover when it rains.