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Best Time To Visit Zimbabwe

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Month by month guide of when to go

When best to visit Zimbabwe will depend on what it is you are hoping to see, and also what else you are combining it with. Zimbabwe’s geographical position with Botswana to the west, Zambia to the North, Mozambique to the east and South Africa below makes this an integral part of many self drives. Being home to the magnificent Victoria Falls also means that many of safaris in these surrounding countries often start or finish with a few nights in Zimbabwe.

The rain in Zimbabwe falls predominantly between Dec – March as their wet season, but the further north you are in the country, the sooner it begins and the further south you, the later the rains last.

Of course, one of the main attractions of visiting Zimbabwe is incredible game-viewing, which tends to be most popular in the dry season when the game is easiest to see. The Limpopo River in the South and the famous Zambezi in North are home to some of Africa’s finest game-viewing.

One of the biggest draws to Zimbabwe is its remoteness and spectacular wildlife, if you are looking for a truly authentic and remote safari experience, Zimbabwe won’t disappoint.

Below is a short summary of the best times to visit or scroll to the bottom for a full month by month guide.

Best for Safari: May – October – the rains have stopped and the day are clear and sunny, although nights tend to be cooler.

Best for birding: November – May (Green season)

Best for Victoria Falls: April and May for the most dramatic views, June to September for activities.

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    Peter

    Zimbabwe Specialist

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Bufalo At The Hide S Waterhole

January

This is the middle of the rainy season which is often referred to as the green season. The rain usually comes in short sharp bursts for an hour or so or later on in the evenings, the rest of the day can often be bright, sunny and hot.

Many of the camps are closed during this period especially in Mana Pools where the mud is thick, but if you do decide to visit, you will be rewarded by many animals having their young during this time. The downside is that although much of the wildlife is still there, it may take longer to find due to the thick bushes, being more dispersed and challenging roads. This is also a brilliant time of year to spot migratory birds.

View Of The River Singita Pamushana

February

Still in the rainy season and you can expect some showers but hopefully less than in January. For the Africa enthusiast this can be a great time for photography. Everything is green and lush, the bird life full of migratory birds is incredible and the rain/surface water keeps the dust at bay.

Although this burst of life makes the bush feel alive and this is a time when many of the animals are reproducing, finding them in the first place more challenging. With the rains surface water forms water holes, rivers are in full flow and animals do not need to stick in the same place to hydrate, therefore game is a lot more sparse rather than keeping near the few remaining water sources. The bush is also thick and lush reducing visibility.

Many of the camps are still closed, however the ones which are open will offer great green season rates, perfect if you are looking for a deal.

The Hide A Frame And Elephants

March

The rainy season is coming to the end now, however, do expect afternoon showers. Although these are still usually short and sharp in the afternoon there is still potential of large storms.

Camps in Hwange are open but camps in Mana Pools are still closed. Walking safaris are often prohibited during the green season as the bush is too thick making elephants a real danger.

Water levels in the Zambezi are rising and the flow over the Victoria Falls is starting to increase making for a more dramatic experience. There is also a chance to see the famous ‘spray rainbows’ visiting the falls at this time of year.

This is a good time to travel if you want to get away from the crowds and are restricted by budget.

Victoria Falls

April

April

Victoria Falls is now in full flow so make sure to leave a few days to explore this area as there are plenty of activities you can enjoy nearby.

With lots of animals giving birth and everything green and lush the bush seems to spring into life and feels like an Eden. The rains by this point have pretty much stopped and the temperatures are starting to lower, especially in their evenings. These cooler temperatures bring relief to many of the animals especially the predators providing an extended period of hunting in the later afternoons and mornings, before it starts getting too hot around mid day. Camps in Mana Pools are now opening with the mud drying up.

Ar Annamaria Gremmo 31

May

From a photographer’s point of view the green vegetation and crisp air provides some brilliant photographic opportunities. All the camps are now fully open and game drives are productive with a chance for some fantastic animal sightings. Walking safaris which are a real highlight of visiting Zimbabwe are now back on as the thick green bush begins die back and the riverbeds dry up.

Victoria Falls is in full flow during this time. Spend some times floating along the Zambezi and relaxing.

This is also a great time to travel if you are looking for quieter camps and game drives. The cool evenings are perfect for sitting around the fire with a drink telling stories from the day.

Chikwenya Lions

June

Night time temperatures can reach zero but daytime temperatures are warm and comfortable. The dry season has now truly kicked in and game viewing is brilliant. Predator sighting are common and water holes and riverbanks become the hot spots to see wildlife as surface water dries up and waterholes dry out.

Many of the camps are now in peak season so rates are higher although the game viewing is worth it. The flow over the Victoria Falls is still good, although it is on the drop.

View Of Lake Kariba From Lodge

July

There is still a lot of water flowing over the fall, although the famous spray is not quite so drenching as it was in June and May, which whilst less dramatic, makes visibility better. With the lower water levels, activities such as white water rafting become possible. This is one of the most popular months to visit Victoria Falls.

Gameviewing is great and Mana Pools and Hwange are popular so make sure to book in advance to ensure you get availability at your desired camps. Nighttime temperatures are still very cold.

This is also a good time to be exploring Lake Kariba, with Matusadona National Park on its banks its a stunning location with plenty to see and do.

Nkonzi Camp Leopard

August

The wildlife is now at its most visible as the thick bush has died back. Nighttime temperatures are still low around this period so make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing, daytime temperatures are now high so dress like and onion with plenty of layers to take off and put on during your drives.

Waterholes are now few and far between gradually become few and far between resulting in the wildlife congregating in larger numbers around what water there is left. Many of the guides know where these more permanent waterholes are so spending plenty of time around these can be very productive as predators hide and wait for the prey to come and drink. From now on you can expect the best wildlife sightings, especially leopard and lion.

Waterflow over the Victoria Falls is lowering, but this means there is good visibility with less spray and also that you can undertake activities such as white water rafting which requires lower water levels.

Wild Dog Pic For Blog

September

For game-viewing September is incredible. Although as always its very much down to the area and your guide, if you want the best chances of the some exceptional sightings then September through to October is the time to travel.

Day and night temperatures are comfortable and much of the land feels dry and arid unless you are along the banks of the Zambezi or Limpopo. With little surface water around the wildlife is gathering densely around the few remaining waterholes making these prime locations for game drives. Availability for the camps during this period is tight so be sure to book early.

In contrast to the fantastic wildlife, Victoria Falls is at minimal flow so you will not experience the thundering mist rising that you may have heard about or seen in photos, however this is a great excuse to return again and see Zimbabwe at a contrasting time of year.

Annamaria Gremmo 30

October

October is in the final full month of the dry season. The land is arid and dusty but it’s a very interesting time to visit. Temperatures are usually 30+ but can reach the 40’s.

With these high temperatures the waterholes are visited frequently by the plains game and the predators tend not to venture too far. Walking safari can produce some incredible sightings, especially in Mana Pools, however, the heat can make them a bit of a struggle.

Victoria Falls is now at its lowest flow so much of the rock face is viable. It is possible to swim in the devils pool hangs off the edge and the Zambezi is still full of activities.

Bushlife Safaris 3

November

This is a very interesting month, one of the hottest and most humid months just before and sometimes as the rains arrive. Many of the camps rates are now dropping into shoulder season so the first couple of weeks can be great value as the game is dense around the few remaining water holes, the bush has died back fully and the grasses are low.

Waterflow over the Victoria Falls is at its lowest but its definitely worth spending some time on the Zambezi, especially as much of the wildlife is now heading down to its banks to drink during the hot days.

Wildlife Viewing From The Camp Changa Safari Camp

December

The annual rains should have now fully kicked in, this will provide respite form the scorching temperatures in October and November although the humidity will still be quite high. Depending on how late the rains come there is often a little bit of lag between the first rains and the grasses becoming tall and the bush becoming thick. This combined with its green season rates and the potential of some good game viewing, travelling at this time could pay off if you don’t mind an afternoon shower.

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Speak to a Zimbabwe expert.

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    Peter

    Zimbabwe Specialist

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