Ten Reasons to visit in the “Green Season”

  • Migrant Birds- The bird population seems to almost double as the migrants arrive following the rains and the abundance of food they bring!
  • Photography- Dark skies, clear air and every shade of green you could possibly imagine make this my favorite time of year to be taking photographs.
  • Cats- They don’t like getting wet and since the heavy undergrowth is laden with dew in the morning they walk down the roads making them easier to track and find
  • Frogs- At night, wherever you are, you will be serenaded by a host of different species of frog, each lustily singing his own tune
  • Thunder and Lightning- If you haven’t lived through a tropical thunderstorm then you haven’t lived
  • Babies- In the green season, all the inhabitants of the bush are fat and happy and producing offspring
  • Insects and Butterflies- the air is full of the buzzing and whirling of an astonishing diversity of the most outlandish looking creatures imaginable- contrary to popular opinion most of them are not the slightest bit interested in you.
  • You might get stuck!- Trust me, it will be the one experience you will never forget
  • You will get wet!- So what, the rain comes in great lumps and before it rains it’s hot and humid so you welcome getting wet to cool down
  • You will have the place to yourself! Unless everyone else reads this and decides to join you!

If you live in Africa you yearn for the rain. At this time of year we all live, straining our ears, for that distant rumbling of thunder that marks the changing of the seasons and if you work in a safari camp, this time of year takes on an even greater significant. It marked the end of the tourist season and a long anticipated rest since, for some reason, very few people chose to travel in what has now become known as the “green season” As a guide, I must confess, it’s my favorite time of year to be in the bush, since it’s the time when the wilderness is bursting at the seams with life. Every puddle is alive with butterflies, tadpoles, dragonflies and frogs and overhead the sky whirls and buzzes with the most astonishing collection of insects all going about their business. The argument against traveling in the wet season centers around the quality of the game viewing experience, and while it’s true that the game is spread out and hard to see since visibility is reduced, there are other factors to consider.

Firstly- I would rather watch one fat, happy, healthy animal going about his business than 100 of the same, at the end of their tether for lack of food and water. Secondly- since it’s the season of plenty, everything is breeding and all the migrant birds are here as well, so while you may not see large numbers of herbivores you will see a sample of them, as well as an extraordinary wealth of other smaller life forms. Thirdly- if it does rain it’s seldom set in rain that goes on and on, usually it over is one blinding burst of thunder and lightening and then the sun come’s out, and you can carry on with your game viewing. It’s the best time of year for photography since the black sky’s and towering thunder clouds make for a spectacular backdrop to any photograph and the air is clear of haze, thanks to the cleansing rain. Lions and Leopards are easy to find since they don’t like getting wet and so, in the morning, walk down the road’s to avoid the heavy dew in the undergrowth. But best of all, I love the green season because `i have the place to myself- that is unless you, and everyone else reading this, are convinced and decide to come and join me!!

We had an apprentice guide working for us in Hwange who was particularly keen on butterflies and was forever chasing them around with his outer sized butterfly net, steadily adding to his already impressive collection. To his immense frustration, he was on transfer duty, driving the shuttle bus back and forth from the airport which was a great inconvenience to him since it cut into his butterfly catching time. One day we received a radio call that he had had an accident on his way back to camp so we raced off and found him sitting dejectedly on the side of the road with our new bus stuck in the ditch. The damage was not too serious but when we quizzed him about how it happened he sheepishly admitted that it had been his fault. It seems that on the way out to the airport, driving through a deep puddle, he had noticed a congregation on Pearl Charaxis- a beautiful but fast flying butterfly that had so far eluded him. Dropping his guests he had hatched a plan to hang out the window of the bus with his butterfly net in hand and drive at high speed through the puddle and thus catch the prized butterfly but in the process, had lost control and ended up in the ditch. After a good ear bashing from the manager we got the bus out of the ditch and set off for camp, I asked him why he was looking so glum since it looked like he was going to get to keep his job, turns out he was just upset because he still had not managed to catch that butterfly!