Written By: Mike and Nancy Paredes, Dazzle Africa Safari Hosts
It’s hands down the most beautiful time of the year to be on safari in the South Luangwa as the landscape changes from dusty brown and dry to a verdant paradise colored by shades of green and bursting with life.
The magic of the Emerald Season in Zambia is one of the best kept secrets of the safari world. It’s like we have the whole of the South Luangwa to ourselves. There’s just something so intimate about that-~as if you are one with nature. Our emerald safaris include a stay in the wild Nsefu sector of the Park, we are literally the only guests there ~ it’s our exclusive paradise to behold.
The Luangwa river, oxbow lakes and all the lagoons are filled to the brim with life-giving water. This is the season of the river journey, adding a new activity to your adventure. Boating through a flooded mopane forest up at the remote Nsefu sector of the park is serene and surreal at the same time. Drifting down the Luangwa river, enjoying a refreshing sundowner drink as elephants and baboons watch from the shore, is well… sigh… priceless.
It’s a photographer’s dream! Natural light, vibrant skies, breathtaking sunsets, intense colors and clear air without dust all make for stunning photography. The green backdrop of the landscape provides the perfect setting for dazzling wildlife photographs. As the sun sets, the moody skies reflect off the waters radiating the colors of violet, gold and orange bringing even more drama to the day.
It’s the birthing season ~ the South Luangwa becomes a nursery for elephants, zebras, impala and other mammals.. All the animals are happy and relaxed as the competition for food and water is no longer a factor after the dry season. There are usually lots of “oohs” and laughter from the safari vehicles as we watch the young try out their brand new legs in bursts of leaps and speed ~ also known as the “zoomies!”.
The wealth of prey leads to predator action. The South Luangwa has become a stronghold for the highly endangered African painted dog and there’s nothing more exciting than watching a coordinated effort of a pack leap and run through the grass as they give chase to a herd of impala. The park is nicknamed “the valley of the leopard” and rarely fails to disappoint as leopards stalk silently through the verdant bush in search of their quarry. Spotting lions on the road as they loll in the sun or head out for a hunt is always a highlight.
With all the water about, there are relaxed and happy hippos everywhere! If you love seeing hippos as much as we do, then you will love the Emerald Season in the South Luangwa. Coming upon a lagoon covered in nile cabbage will find you searching for the family of hippos that you know is there… suddenly out pops one, two… ten or more! Sometimes it seems impossible that such a small lagoon can hold so many at once.
It’s the time of happy and peaceful elephants and their jubilant babies. There is no better time to be an elephant baby than during the Emerald Season as there is just so much sustenance about. You can literally feel how relaxed the elephant families are during this time of plenty, which makes spending time watching them unhurried and tranquil. Also, we love seeing elephants play in the waters or crossing the deep channels when all you can see are their trunks up ~ it’s quite a sight to behold.
The Emerald Season brings birds all dressed up in breeding plumage to Zambia, offering a colorful collage of nature. A particular highlight is the yellow billed stork colony where thousands gather high up in the flooded mopane trees to breed. Only accessible by boat up at Nsefu, where the waters keep them safe from predators below, the stork rookery visit is best seen to be believed – and it’s only available during this flourishing time of year.
The weather is usually mild with temperatures ideal for walking safaris. If it does rain, which isn’t often in our experience, the rains only last for a short stint which only adds to the allure of the adventure. No need to fret about gear, as the camps provide lovely and warm waterproof rain ponchos, so all activities go on as planned. These times allow the photographer to get the unique “animal-in-the-rain” photo and afterward the sparkle to the air and on the leaves adds a new dimension to your photography portfolio. Of course, there will then be rainbows!
It’s an adventure! It’s for the intrepid traveler – when you are there you know that you are experiencing a unique and magical adventure.
A bonus reason to go on a Dazzle Africa Emerald Season safari? It is the best time to visit Victoria Falls as the water will be at its highest levels making for a thunderously exhilarating sight. Dazzle Africa can arrange an extension to your safari, why not go since you are already in Zambia during the most beautiful time of the year?
Join Dazzle Africa on an Emerald Season Safari !