There’s an air of rejoicing in the African Luxury Hideaways offices today. The clouds are enveloping the Zimbabwean skies and the glimpses of rain bring jolts of excitement to all of us as they are signs of what’s to come. Most people are saddened by the concept of rain, but not us; we’ve seen the destruction that comes when it’s been away for too long and we’ve experienced the magic of the green season when it finally returns.
We recently encountered the worst drought in 20 years. Low levels of water has resulted in famine, fires, disease, economic downturn and frequent power outages due to a drop in hydro-electric power. As an established lodge, our guests were not affected by the water shortage, but we all witnessed life dwindling around us. Elephant’s scrambled for the water from our pool, lions and leopards took what they could from our shrinking water hole and, on the odd occasion, we witnessed the sad remains of an animal that lost the fight against severe thirst.
So, we’re rejoicing in the office not just because the weatherman is predicting rain for the next few weeks, but because the rain announces the beginning of an exhilarating season… the Green Season. There are things to see and experience which only happen at this time of year, true treasures which give you an undeniable reason to travel to Africa in the Green Season.
1. It’s the time for babies
This is the one time to witness one of nature’s greatest miracles, a new born entering the world for the first time. See the mums and dads covered head-to-toe with their over active young and animals sitting amidst their prey, without touching them, as the food is plenty. There’s a show which you don’t get at other times of the year and if you book with the right travel operator, they’ll make sure you’ll get front row seats.
2. A bird lovers dream time to travel
There is no better time to travel to Africa then the Green season if you are a bird lover. A large influx of birds enter Southern Africa from the North, bringing a world of new colour to the lush green bush felt. You’ll see species of bird you’ve never seen before and, just after the daily brief moments of rain, you’ll witness the unbelievable predatorily skill of the birds which dive at alarming rates to catch the insects as they make their way to the now cool surface.
In East Africa, the largest migration of animals takes place and if you think I’m talking about the Wildebeest Migration, you are wrong. Each year birds from all over the world travel to East Africa at this time, a collection of birds so large that it nearly doubles that of the Wildebeest Migration. You’ll find yourself accompanied with a symphony of sounds and colours which are simply mind blowing and perfect for wildlife photographer.
3. The weather is awe inspiring
The morning sunrise ‘greets’ you with a red glow that sets the sky on fire, as if to welcome you into the drama of Africa. For those of you who have experienced a sunrise in Africa’s green season, memory of it will still sends ‘goosebumps’ down your spine as the unpolluted air provides a clear vision for natures bright orange halo that rests comfortably on a green, rugged landscape.
But that’s just the start! As the day progresses, the sky changes from blue to a brief moment of grey and the increasing heat shifts to rain at the opportune moment that the heat becomes unbearable. Epic thunder storms, curious cloud formations and shifting light set the scene for a photographers paradise. Just when you think the unfolding drama has ended, the rain stops, the blue sky appears and yet again, the avid photographer has the opportunity to catch the perfect wildlife shot against the setting sun and the blooming flowers.
4. Local people shift and adapt to a new way of life
The life-cycle of most African tribes change. Suddenly, food is in abundance and songs of rejoicing can be heard. The crops spring to life at the return of the rain and the longer days result in a time shift for people who don’t use clocks. Here’s the chance to be a part of dances and ceremonies as they worship different gods and celebrate different traditions. The meals too change at the different fruits and vegetables that grow at this time of year, making way for a sensory experience that may even surpass that of winter months.
5. Cost of travel is less
Many tour operators and accommodations offer more affordable rates during these times, making travelling a whole lot cheaper. Often, because there are less guests, you will receive a more intimate and personalised experience at the places you visit. End-of-year holidays are also during this time, which makes it a great time to travel with kids.