Luangwa: throughout the year

Over in Luangwa, the weather patterns are very pronounced, creating changes in the park, month by month. Traditionally the drier months are the most popular for tourists for guaranteed game viewing as animal’s cluster towards the remaining watering holes. However, there is also something to be said for visiting at other times throughout the year…

Dry Season April/May – a few rainstorms still present but the temperature remains fairly warm. The vegetation is lush and grass is long. Game viewing is still good but obviously it’s harder to spot. This is an excellent time for bird viewing with the migrant birds still present.

Some of the roads will be closed, but the river is high and allows for river trips.

June/July – the start of the peak safari season when the bush camps open and walking safaris become possible once again. It is effectively ‘mid-winter’ for Luangwa so the mornings and evenings are cold with mid-day temperatures rising slightly but still cooler than later in the year. The bush starts to dry out but grasses remain fairly high. This coupled with clear days makes for stunning colours and good game viewing.

August – the bush has now had a few months to dry out so it becomes easier to spot the animals. Temperature is cool to hot and with the rising heat the lagoons reduce in size. This is a popular month for game viewing and subsequently a busy month for tourists.

September – it’s getting hotter, drier and hazier. A lot of the trees dry up and lose their flowers. Small fires may break. This is prime game viewing time. Good for; the arrival of migrant birds, including the carmine bee-eaters who are keen to nest in the drying riverbanks. As the river dries, fishing bird parties gather. Animals start to make their daily trips to the river to drink. Busy month for tourists, expect fuller lodges and game-drives.

October – very dry with the final collections of water attracting many animals within the park making for excellent game viewing. Clouds begin to build up with very occasional rain. Can reach 40°c even in the shade.

November – hot and humid as the level of moisture in the air increases. Clouds build up and afternoon storms are common, building a dramatic scene of wind, dark clouds and sheet lightening over the park. The bush becomes greener and fresher. Birth of many mammals. Migrant birds arrive providing excellent bird-watching. Bush camps are closed and access to the more remote roads is reduced as rains increase. Fewer tourists so less busy in the park, some lodges will be offering Green season, reduced prices.

December – March – Very green and lush often making for beautiful scenery. Rivers rise daily and it is a very quiet and relaxed time with only some lodges remaining open. There are very few visitors around this time apart from over the holiday period.

No matter what month of the year you visit South Luangwa national park you are bound to see something spectacular. If you have visited before during August, for example, why not visit again in February and see how the experience differs.

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