Zambia / Robin Pope Safaris / Emerald Season Safaris
Robin Pope Emerald Season Safaris


Every year we encourage our guests to come in the 'Emerald Season'. The Emerald Season begins in November and ends around mid-May. The most underrated experience in the bush is from November to March when the rains fall and then the months of April and May as the bush dries out. To many this is a most spectacular time of the year in the Luangwa Valley and also excellent value with lower rates.

In Zambia's summer months when there is rainfall the bush changes in many ways. Some areas become flooded and inaccessible and some parks such as the Lower Zambezi National Park close completely. However, areas of the South Luangwa are operational and we are open at Nkwali Camp and Robin's House throughout this time. We also open Nsefu Camp mid-January to the end of March for boating safaris in the heart of the park.

Why the Emerald Season?

  • Excellent for photography as there's much less dust and the air is crystal clear.
  • Wonderful birding with the migrant and resident birds in breeding plumage, heronries and avarian kindegardens in February & March.
  • Births and nursery herds of young (impala, warthog drop early November, and it is peak time for elephants, zebra and many more).
  • The bush is green, beautiful and lush and the skies are blue with dramatic afternoon skies and spectacular clouds and light.
  • The Luangwa River is high and dramatic - ideal for wonderful boating (especially for the River Journey Safari at Nsefu Camp).
  • No single supplements
  • Fewer people around

Why Robin Pope Safaris for an Emerald Season safari?

The Emerald Season Wildlife Calendar

The Emerald Season runs from November to mid May. At the start of the rains the river is so low we can walk across and the valley is dry and dusty. As the rains fall, from occasional storms in November & December; to storms passing through most nights in January & February; and then abating again in March & April, the bush changes to a dramatic vibrant green. At the peak, the lagoons are brimming and the river is full.

November and December - After a long dry season, the first storms arrive with plenty of drama - thunder and lightening. The bush is bursting with new life - the emerald green grass pushes through and the new leaves are growing. The green is incredibly intense everywhere - with the purples and pinks (and yellows) of the flowers scattered throughout. There is an influx of migratory birds with spirals of migrating storks and also the cuckoos and other 'specials' like the Angola pitta.

January to March - The river now rises rapidly and can come right to the top of the banks. This gives incredible boating experiences - when you can boat from the river into the lagoon systems. These months are the peak breeding months for the birds and there are colonies of weavers nests hanging over lagoons, trees simply full of heron and stork nests and the more secretive birds like gallinules and Angola pitas can still be found. The gameviewing continues to be excellent as much of the game stays on the dry ground - the roads! This is when we start regularly seeing the wild dog in the area.

April and May - As we end March the migrant birds are near the end of their breeding, the bush is lush and the skies incredibly blue. The river is high and we can have a lot of fun boating around. The lagoons are full and the water birds everywhere. This is a wonderful time of the year. And it is peak time for wild dog viewing. Through the months of April and May, the river slowly drops, the bush colours turn from green to golden yellow, the lagoons start to shrink and the migratory birds prepare for their long journeys.

Special Interest Safaris

During the Emerald Season we also offer a wide range of safaris with fixed departure dates that have a specific interest as the focus of the safari, or go to a different destination that offers a unique wildlife experience.

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