The Changing Seasons
“Zimbabwe’s blessed location, about 18° south of the equator places it in a very comfortable position with the weather gods, who smile on it regularly.”
Our seasons may not be as distinguished as in more temperate areas, but when their subtle shift begins, the atmosphere, the landscape, the adventures, and the wildlife shifts too. Towards the end of each season, the breeze carries the scent of promised change, and the leaves on the trees stir in anticipation for the sweetness of Spring or the sting of Winter. Victoria Falls breathes to the rhythm of the sunshine and the rain, exhaling dark thunder clouds or wispy white trails into the sky. Whatever changes take place, they are always beautiful, and always welcome.
The rainy season falls between November and March. During this time, the skies open in short and dramatic punctuations. Rain roars as in plummets towards the earth and the claps of thunder sounds like kindling being broken into splinters. Bolts of lightning slice the sky in half, hurling a resounding crack through the air. When the world is dark and howling, bursts of sheet lightening paint the earth white for a second, reminiscent of a camera flash that is set too bright. The storms are as short as they are electrifying, and soon enough rays of sun break through the heavy grey blanket in the sky, chasing away the streaks of dark with arcs of colour painted across the most magnificent rainbows on earth.
While the storms are empowering, the Spring that follows in their wake is humbling and uplifting. Spring is normally a fairly short season between April and May, a small gift from the heavens and the most idyllic time to visit Zimbabwe. If serenity has a scent, it can be inhaled in the early Spring morning in Victoria Falls. The sun simmers to create warm days and comfortably cool nights. The tree branches bow with the weight of bright green leaves in every variation of the colour, and the animals are well fed and have a “spring” in their step. The earth exists in harmonic equilibrium at this time of the year.
Winter creeps in around mid-May until August, bringing with it a distinct dryness. The bite of cold is not as harsh as European winters but nips enough that woollen clothing and warm jackets need to be worn. This is a time for popping and dancing flames in the fire place, snug rugs and mugs of hot chocolate. The early morning game drives are cosy affairs, laden with fleece blankets and flasks of tea to be dipped with homemade rusks. Before dawn breaks on the horizon, a thin sheet of frost covers the ground, slowly turning to dew as the sun takes its place in the sky.
August and September mirror the magical characteristics of Spring. This is our Autumn, and there is something nostalgic and memorable about the gentle cascade of gold, brown, crispy leaves. The crunchy brown carpet signals the oncoming of iridescent baby green leaves on the trees, and the atmosphere is expectant and calm. The sky is clear of all rain clouds and the temperature is consistently comfortable, the perfect recipe for an ideal day. This is the kind of weather that entices fishermen out onto the river to cast a line into the smooth surface and hopefully bring back a thrashing fish. This is the best time of year to hook a tiger fish, as the warm water draws them out. While many of the trees take on a downy brown appearance, the Jacaranda trees sprout happy purple flowers, a pinnacle of beauty that brightens up the world. Our indigenous Msasa trees take on a colourful display of orange, purple and red until the temperatures signal their retreat and the leaves shower to the ground.
Between October and November, the sun seems to rise higher in the sky, shine brighter than ever, and cast its heat down more ferociously than before. Temperatures soar to the 30-degree Celsius and can keep climbing. Floppy hats, wrap-around sunglasses, colourful sarongs and iced Gin and Tonics daily requirements during this time. This is one of the best times for game viewing, as animals are drawn in their masses to the water sources, and are easier to spot as the bush thins out.
Every season comes about for a reason and brings with it another beautiful side to Zimbabwe’s incredible landscape. Even when it’s wet or cold, the mood remains bright, and part of the wild world is thriving all year round.
Some quick facts:
- Rainy Season: November to April
- Wettest months: December to February
- Dry Season: May to October
- Coldest Months: June and July
- Most idyllic weather periods: April – May and August – September
- Best game viewing: July to October
- Best fishing: September to November