Green Season Safaris

Where’s the best place for a safari in the green season in Africa? We compare and contrast safari areas & game lodges in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

Overview

Sometimes you will want (or need) to take a safari outside the peak ''safari season'. The wetter summer months from December to March are considered to be the ''green season'' for African safaris. This may be the only time you can travel. Or you may be combining a safari with a summer trip to the Cape? (Many of our clients like to escape the endless grey winter days of the northern hemisphere during this time.)

So on this page we compare and contrast the Green Season safaris in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

What are Green Season safaris like?

So the wet summer months are generally not the ideal months for a safari in terms of sheer quantity of animals. The game-viewing will not be as prolific as in the dry winter months. Indeed, in some countries, the animals  literally leave the main parks and head off in search of fresh pastures when the rains come.

Plus it will also be harder to spot the wildlife because of the lush bush. BUT the wildlife won’t be completely absent, and there are some distinct plus points for green season safaris.

  • This is the time when many animals are giving birth so you'll see lots of youngsters around.
  • It’s also a beautiful time of the year when all is green and lush.
  • Fantastic time for keen photographers with interesting skies & sunsets
  • All the migratory birds in full breeding plumage. (Plus it’s a great time for butterflies, flowers and colourful insects.)
  • And finally, in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia the prices are much LOWER than during the shoulder or peak seasons. Even in South Africa, where safari prices don't change much by season, there are often long stay offers during the Green Season.

So where DO we recommend for Green Season Safaris?

South Africa

Game lodges in South Africa don’t usually offer lower prices as they remain busy through the summer months. (This is because they are often combined with Cape Town and the Garden Route especially by people escaping the Northern hemisphere winter.)

But they have the distinct advantage of fenced national parks and private game reserves. This means that the South Africa reserves are not nearly as affected by animal migrations as the unfenced reserves of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Madikwe is in the summer rainfall area but it is generally drier than the Kruger National Park and less prone to the cyclonic influences coming in from the Indian Ocean from mid January to early March.

Green season safari in Madikwe

Ironically the Eastern Cape game reserves and the few Western Cape reserves are about the only area in Africa where the months of May to August are NOT the best time for a safari. The Eastern Cape has a temperate transitional climate which means that it can rain at any time of year. But its winters are pretty cold and so the animals tend to head for protective thick bushveld away.

So actually the green season safari months of summer are THE PERFECT time for a safari here. There may be some rain but much less than elsewhere in Africa.

Elephants in Addo elphant park safaris

Zambia

Hang on a second, we said elsewhere that Zambia was ‘closed for business’ during the summer months! Generally this is true. But there are exceptions. Some of the central lodges of the South Luangwa remain open for green season safaris. Some bush camps also open especially for a few weeks. During this time they focus on game walks, boating and game drives in the part of the park which is not flooded. This can be surprisingly good for game-viewing given that the animals are ‘forced’ to hang out in these non-flooded areas as well.

Check out our Rivers and Rainbows safari below.

South Luangwa Safari - Rivers and Rainbow safari

Botswana

Botswana has two attractive reasons to visit at this time of year.

Firstly, November, and again from mid January to March are some of the best months to visit the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi pans in Botswana with the annual migration of zebra and wildebeest to and from these areas.

But, more mundanely, nearly all Botswana camps offer very attractive Green Season pricing. This means that the price of the camps can be easily less than HALF the price of the peak season. If the very high cost of a Botswana safari in July or August brings on a panic attack, then this is the way to see the beauty of the Okavango Delta. Without having to pawn your Granny’s jewellery collection...

Botswana green season safaris

Check out our blog articles on Best time to Travel.

Back to the MAIN WILDLIFE pages

Highlights

  • The skies are exploding with colour and are very photogenic especially at dawn and sunset. So keen photographers often love the summer (green) season.
  • Lots of babies being born so plenty of youngsters around...
  • In Botswana and Zambia, the green season is offered at very attactive safari prices
  • The afternoon rains bring slightly cooler weather. You might even need a sweater just after the rains. Though days are hot and sunny.

Download our What to Wear on Safari Guide

An important part of planning an African safari is deciding what to wear, what to take and what to pack. Get the low-down here. Get our Free Guide here
 

Mari Jacobs

Africa Travel Specialist

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Did you know
  • WhenGreen Season is typically mid November to March

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