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African rains in November mean the end of the dry safari season and a fresh start for the annual cycle of life across Africa. The green season starts!

Victoria Falls waterhole by Tami Walker: My favourite time of year is here! I cannot wait for the skies and the thunder storms to begin making their magic!!!

The African rains are on their way!

Some of our favoured African safari spots are HOT towards the end of the season! September turns into October’s “suicide month” and November gets hotter until the African rains break.

This is one of our “secret seasons” in Africa.

The Southern African rains

So in southern Africa aside from the western Cape, and especially in the valleys it’s also getting very dry. Game conditions are intense wherever there’s remaining water.

The big rivers, Zambezi and Luangwa especially are drawing thirsty wildlife from places higher up. Temperatures will continue to rise and in places like Kariba or Matusadona at around 600m ASL temperatures will go up to high 40’s before the rains break!

Then when that rain starts in parched and rugged foothills below the escarpments…trees that appear long dead will burst back into bud and within days there’ll be a green carpet underfoot.

Find out the what, why, when, where and how of our green season safaris.

Rains in East Africa

In East Africa our short rains should bring fairly rapid relief during November. During the preceding month or so, there’s usually a lot of uncertainty with the big migratory herds as they criss-cross the Mara River in the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara.

Then as the November rains start the fertile and seed-rich sands in the southern Serengeti plains will almost overnight produce grass so sweet that there’s nothing to stop the herds from moving rapidly south. The valleys below the Gol mountains and other wide spaces in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area then become centre stage for the annual migration until the rains end around May each year. (See how the annual wildebeest migration works.)

Places like Katavi in south western Tanzania where the season’s seeps and spring lines are drying up, hippos will congregate en masse. And this special place is one of the few in Africa where crocodiles dig caves into river banks and aestivate. Stacked one on top of the other!

Crocs aestivate at the end of the dry season in the Kapapa River, Katavi. Courtesy John Corse, Nomad Safaris

The rains bring new life

Perhaps one of the most remarkable points in the African safari calendar has to be those few days just after the rain breaks. The bush bursts into life, suddenly termites take flight in great swarms, insects are teeming and both resident and migrant birds are everywhere! The weather’s still hot, deep and heavy clouds fill sunsets, they break and rebuild the next day. Africa’s bush is alive again!

So we anticipate the rains again and here’s a choir’s rendition of a rainstorm developing into a thundering crescendo. 2 minutes worth of essential viewing, better still, just close your eyes and turn the volume up!

African rains

Essential viewing across on YouTube

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