Zebra on the Masai Mara demonstrate the vibrant contrasts in green season photography.
Amidst planning for specific areas and activities, one of the most frequent questions we receive about African travel is “When is the best time to go?”
Traditionally, the high season in Africa is during its winter (summer, for those of us north of the equator) because the drier weather conditions make game easier to spot. But low or “green season” travel also has a number of advantages that can make for a uniquely rewarding trip.
From Wild at Heart Journeys’ owner Robin Francis’ own experiences to feedback from our travel clients and partners on the continent, we’ve rounded up five fantastic reasons to visit Africa in the low season.
1. Highly popular destinations are less crowded. We’ve written before about privacy as a precious luxury in today’s highly connected world. In the low season, less visitors/smaller groups allow for more individualized attention from guides and experiences of solitude both at lodges and in the bush - at a great value. (See #5 on our list below.) This is especially true in highly visited destinations like the Kalahari Desert, Okavango Delta, the Serengeti, and Kenya’s Masai Mara. The famed zebra migration through Botswana’s Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi National Parks is also a green season-specific wildlife event.
2. Baby animals are in abundance! Need we say more?! Most African animals are born at the start of the rainy season, when food is plentiful and life is relatively easy. This abundance of adorable babies - playful lion and cheetah cubs, zebra foals, elephant calves, and many others - provides exceptional wildlife sightings and the opportunity to observe young animals learning the ropes of life in the wild.
3. Fabulous light and lush landscapes make for great photography. For those with an interest in photography, Africa’s low season boasts some of the very best scenery and light. The quintessential searing red skies are replaced with layers of moody grey clouds, cut through with streaming golden light. The greenery of the landscape pops in the fresh air and reflects luminously on the seasonal waterways. Animals contrast beautifully against this backdrop.
4. Migrating birds are on full display. The low season is the height of migratory bird season in Africa and birders may find this the best time to safari. It is estimated that as many as six billion individual birds undertake the seasonal trans-Sahara migration southward from Europe and Asia. And, not to be outdone, in the green season many of Africa’s resident bird species (some 1,500 in East Africa alone) swap their drab plumage for bright breeding feathers and engage in theatrical singing and display.
5. Travel costs will be less expensive. Low season travelers to Africa will find that, in addition to crowd-free experiences, airline fares and lodge rates will be lower than in the high season (except Christmas and New Year’s). Together with uniquely seasonal wildlife experiences, this makes for a great value in the top destinations in Southern and East Africa!
The Low Season Defined
In a continent as vast as Africa, the low/green season differs by region. Of course, yearly variation occurs, but we roughly consider:
Again, the exceptions to these low season times are the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, which are highly popular for African travel (especially South Africa) and during which pricing will be at its peak.
Start Planning Your Trip Now
If you are enticed to take advantage of Africa’s low season and all it has to offer, now is the perfect time to start planning. And, in reality, as Robin frequently says, “Africa is great all year long - pick a time and GO!” Just call 1-844-945-7697 or email Wild at Heart Journeys to set up a time to chat about your journey via phone, skype or facetime.
|All images via Wild at Heart Journeys. From top: A furry elephant calf during low season in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park; play is also a form of learning for lion cubs in Kenya’s Masai Mara; low season is a birder’s paradise - the White-crowned Lapwing in South Luangwa, Zambia; a mother giraffe and calf in Botswana late April.|
Robin Francis of WAHJ has been providing African travel services for over 10 years and travels frequently to the continent to meet with partners and experience their lodging, amenities, and activities first hand. Partners regard her as one of the most knowledgeable African travel consultants in the US, who has also invested in giving back to the communities she works with. Robin and WAHJ are available for complete travel booking throughout Africa or consulting on bookings made through other providers.