Green Season – January to May
Rain storms and temperatures build up in November/December and by January the main rains arrive. The valley receives around 700-800ml in a normal year. The river will swell as the precipitation increases and normally by mid Feb the river will be in flood and boatable. This is a special time of re-growth for the Park with lagoons and wet areas full and green with lush grass. Everywhere there is growth and many birds including migrants are nesting and breeding.
The vegetation grows at a phenonmenal rate in these green house conditions – with humidity at its highest. The rains begin to tail off in March and this is a very special time as the wonder of nature renews and the flora displays itself in the golden sun. We occasionally do river safaris at this time of year and the area looks stunning. Crocodiles move into lagoons or up the flooded tribrutaries and aggressively defend their stretch. The hippos too move away from the main river closer to the feeding grounds; the Mwamba river at this time of year is awesome – something out of a National Geographic magazine (the whole river flooded halfway up the dismantled chalet walls!). There is a massive Yellow-Billed stork colony.
However most of the game moves to higher and drier sandy areas between Kaingo and Mwamba out of the sticky cotton soil mud and is not readily viewed at this time.
Start of Dry Season
Main Walking Season. Remote camps open:
- Kaingo around 26 May.
- Mwamba around 01 June.
May 26th Onwards
May is a busy time for us as we must grade the roads up from Mfuwe and get the camps ready. The game always seems happy to see us again. We have had some amazing game-viewing in May, always with good cat sightings. May and early June is the one time in the year we tend to see wild dog. Birdlife is prolific and the vegetation lush green. Temperatures range from 19-31 degrees Celcius.
June / July
These are our “winter” months. With both camps open we are in full swing complete with jackets and camp-fires. The early mornings and evenings are cool but the days warm. The skies are clear and stars brilliant overhead. Bird watching is excellent as the smaller lagoons that are low on water mean busy times for fishing parties of storks and Pelicans. Cat sightings are good – particularly leopards in the mornings as they warm themselves in the morning sun. Although every month is good June and July is probably the best time for leopard sightings.
The vegetation is still green and lush and the Luangwa flowing strongly. The hippos at the hide just up from Kaingo are gathering to their usual 200 or so.
The plains and woodland around Mwamba yield very productive grasslands which support Cookson’s wildebeest and eland.
A great time of year to visit the valley. Temperatures range from 11-30 degrees Celcius.
This month is traditionally one of the most popular as the game-viewing is just getting better and better. The bush is dying back and country-wide bushfires have started to cause an atmospheric haze that makes for huge spectacular sunsets.
The temperatures are warming up in the day but are still pleasantly cool at night. This is the month that some migrants start to return. The colourful Carmine bee-eaters return and begin to rebuild their huge nesting colonies in the riverbanks.
The water-holes in the walking areas are drying up one by one – each with its own lone hippo reluctant to join the throng at the river. More action on the lagoons with plenty of fishing parties.
This is a great month for camp-outs. The elephants move back and forth across Lion Plain on between food (mopane woodland) and water (fish Eagle lagoon and Luangwa River). Zebras collect on Lion Plain in large numbers.
Temperatures range from 14-30 degrees Celcius.
By now the sunrise is more than half an hour earlier than in June. Consequently the wake-up drums go at 05.15 to make the most of the beautiful early morning light. Game-viewing is excellent with the big herds of buffalo using the river for twice daily drinks. Cat sightings are regular as clockwork.
The Carmine bee-eater colonies are in full swing – the boat hide below very popular. There are up to fifty elephants permanently on Lion Plain. The last waterhole hide is really proving its worth with buffalo and Cookson’s wildebeest daily visits and soon they too cross the plain to drink at the river.
Warm days and nights and spectacular wildlife action including huge quelea displays and Lillians lovebird colonies. The vegetation is awash with colours as trees and bushes change leaves and flower.
Temperatures range from 16-35 degrees Celcius.
By now the earth is heating up in preparation for the forthcoming rains in November. Animals respond by dropping young; the struggle for survival really digs in. A great month for predator action – with kills happening all the time. The vegetation below flattens out while above the trees send out new waxy leaves and shoots in readiness for early showers.
Desperate scenes at waterholes as the weak fall victim to sticky mud. The first sightings of impala young follow the first of warthog piglets.
This is the most dramatic month in the calendar. Temperatures are HOT but the intrepid will be rewarded with outstanding game viewing. Photographically Jules’ favourite month of the year.
Temperatures range from 22-40 degrees Celcius.
End of dry season(beginning of November)
Camps close as the rains close in.
November / December
Hot, slightly humid. Early rains vary from the odd shower to short periods of daily afternoon storms. Our camps become inaccessible and game viewing sporadic as the game retreats to higher ground and can rely on waterholes inland rather than the riverine areas.