Africa has its own seasons. From November to April, while American and European families are donning winter coats and pushing through winter’s wrath, the great plains of Kenya are springing to life with fresh green growth on hardy acacias and lofty crotons and flaming red blooms on ubiquitous tulip trees.
In Southern Africa, along the Okavango toward the mysterious Savuti channel, migrations of zebra make a blinding spectacle in their flow through the marshes in search of newly sprouted grasslands.
This is called “the Green Season,” and it contrasts from Africa’s peak safari season, from July to September, in some dramatic ways – making it Africa’s “Secret Season” for the wealth of rare natural treasure to be discovered.
The Green Season in East and Southern Africa means summer rains, which bring new life to these regions. Thunder clouds burst in riveting cascades of rainfall putting on a show amid these endless horizons that will be as intense and as mesmerizing as watching a cheetah in hot pursuit through a herd of wildebeest.
The rains fall hard and fast before the skies open up again in sheeted rays of hope and tranquility. Animals are everywhere, carpeting the grasslands in odd and oscillating movements. They nurse their foals, cubs, fawns and calves within these great passages, as this splendid Green Season is also the birthing season on the African savannah.
Migrating birds show the way and predict dangers in the midst as they do oncoming rains in calls that can only be heard by wildlife (and naturalists). The world ticks on this way … a primordial clock that knows no dates nor eras, just the movement of the sun and stars.
There are many reasons to plan a safari in Africa during the legendary Green Season and abundant animal life is only one of them.
- Consider the light. Photographers love this time of year in Kenya and Botswana. The lighting of the landscape created by the filtering clouds blankets the stark plains in plays of shadows and streaming sunlight, accentuating the fresh growth over the savannah and the vibrant earth tones of roaming wildlife.
- Birding is at its best during this time as northern migrants pay their annual visit to the African plains and display their colorful plumage in rituals of mating.
- Rivers and waterfalls rush in the intermittent rainfall. Animals are on the move. That means more sightings of wildlife and more sightings of the Darwinian plays upon the African plains – the chases, and the casualties.
- For those considering a safari in Africa, the Green Season along East Africa’s north and south corridors means added advantages: fewer crowds and greater discounts.
Great Plains offers adventures in Africa that perfectly coincide with the Green Season so that guests can experience the particular magic these special months muster.
Bounty of Botswana
Great Plain’s Duba Explorers Camp is a wild and wonderful getaway for seasoned travelers in search of transformative moments. Find it on an island in the northern reaches of the vast Duba concession, flanked at every turn by the pristine and teeming Okavango Delta. “Glampers” choose from five expedition-style tents built with light canvas on raised wooden decks and all possessing views of the surrounding floodplain.
Each interior brings in the ambiance of legendary Africa explorations with a writing desk, ensuite bath facilities, large ceiling fans and an open air design that includes a private verandah for casual wildlife viewing, stunning sunsets with G&Ts in hand, and late night star gazing.
Guests of the camp enjoy regular sightings of a diverse measure of precious wildlife: lechwe and tsessebe (regional species of antelope), kudu, giraffe … elephants and water buffalo meander around the camp. Hippos emerge through the swamps as they swim and lumber down ancient pathways. Lions and leopards are also on the move, mostly at night, as African wild dogs call out in the distances.
Saddle-billed storks stalk the banks of these waters, swooping African Fish Eagles hunt for submerged prey and all manner of the area’s 400 recorded species of avian life vie for the abundant fish, bugs and small creatures in motion.
Guests are treated to an array of activities each day and, no matter what the weather there is a way to celebrate it. That means waiting out an entrancing storm on the verandah or enjoying dawn and twilight game drives in an open 4×4 vehicle; taking guided walking walks in the brush to learn about the plant life and the delicate relationships in animal behaviors, and taking boat-based floats down the lazy Okavango to capture rarely seen wildlife along the shores.
Similarly, Great Plain’s Selinda Explorers Camp located on a remote stretch of the Selinda Spillway linking the outer reaches of the Okavango Delta in the west with the Linyanti Swamps in the east, brings Bedouin-style lounging beneath a canopy of jackalberry and mangosteen trees.
Guests choose from four highly styled canvas guest tents that highlight the natural beauty, always reminding that humans are the visitors here, where animals and untamed nature rule.
There are guided walks into the bush that bring on an intimate one-on-one experience of Africa’s grandeur along with the serenity to be found in the calm waters, in addition to stunning game drives, allowing guests to take in the smaller things often missed from a vehicle.
The area is home to herds of elephant and buffalo and, in Green Season, the lion, leopard, wild dog and sable and roan antelope roam in abandon. The camp offers a perfect place to slow down, recharge, rekindle, remember.
Call of Kenya
Maasai Mara, a 600 square mile swath in south-west Kenya, is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves and in the swell of the Green Season the Mara plains and Ngorongoro conservation area undulate with sweet short grasses that serve as a homing beacon to massive herds of wildebeest and zebra.
It is in this entrancing expanse that Great Plain’s Mara Expedition is lodged on a small bend in the Ntiakitiak River.
If ever there was a place to sleep where lions roar, this is it. Hippos, big cats, wildebeest and water buffalo rule the land, observed by guests sheltered within the camp’s five, custom-designed tents. Each tent brings certain citified comforts – cold running water, flushing commodes – even brass chandeliers and rich leather and hardwood furnishings in interiors smartly designed to hark back to a century past. Sightings of leopards, zebra and wildebeest as one looks up from one’s book while relaxing by the tent are all but guaranteed.
These Great Plains Conservation camps are members of Relais & Chateaux, which means they come with a promise of quality products, top shelf dining and amenities and celebrated guest service. During the Green Season, this level of travel can be accessed at a deep discount — a lower rate for the season PLUS a “stay for 4, pay for 3” bonus.
As photography is in focus for guest experiences, especially during Green Season, guests can pre-order to have special professional camera equipment waiting for them at their camp of choice. Often, specialist photographers are on hand with advance notice to meet guests and help them work the equipment and improve their photography skills. All reservations are individual, made according to guest wants and time lines. Great Plains Conservation can arrange for all bush flights, park permits and extras, whether requests are for one night or several.