Leopard in Nsefu, South Luangwa
Leopard in Nsefu, South Luangwa

Published on March 14 2017
Written by: Nsefu Camp

The Emerald Season at Nsefu


  • Exquisite thunder and lightning storms
  • The chance to see wild dog pups
  • A more remote and quiet safari experience
  • A bird-watcher's paradise!

Why you should visit Nsefu in South Luangwa, Zambia in March

South Luangwa is a prime destination for those wishing to experience the best of African wildlife. Many people, however, eschew the rainy season as they believe they won't see as many animals. We're here to dispell those beliefs.

While it's true that the amount of tourist activity decreases during the rainy season, this is not the case for animals. The air is filled with buzzing and humming. The animals are thriving, there are lots of young ones around and many migratory birds make the South Luangwa National park their temporary home. 

Luangwa River, Zambia

Not many roads are open, you may get muddy when you are going on a walk and occasionally you may not be able to go out at all because of a thunderstorm. All of this is part of the attraction of going on safari in the emerald season.

Watching an elephant while on a walking safari

Nsefu Camp

The oldest safari camp in South Luangwa is Nsefu Camp. This camp is only accessible by boat in the emerald season. The Luangwa River is one of the biggest still completely natural rivers in Africa. Every year it changes its course, giving the visitor a true wilderness feeling. This makes it feel even a bit more remote than during the winter months when you can drive to the camp.

Hippo in Luangwa River

No other camp nearby is open, so guests have the park to themselves. If the water level is high enough, you can go through beautiful channels by boat. Gigantic ebony trees are standing in the water and you can watch kingfishers, crocodiles, hippos and a lot of water birds going about their business. Every now and again, you'll have the opportunity to step out of the boat to explore some of the areas on foot. In the evening, you can sit around a campfire with a nightcap. Often, you can gaze up at the stars through openings in the clouds. The emerald season is also called the secret season. It is so very true!

Highlights of the rainy season in South Luangwa

The dramatic skies that accompany the rainy season are a big highlight of visiting in March. Witnessing a thunderstorm building up across the river is simply spectacular. The light is great for photography and some of the sunsets look more like paintings. Many plants are flowering and the trees are in full bloom. There is a good chance of seeing terrapins, leopard tortoises and all kinds of insects. The animals don’t like to get their feet wet, either, so they often use the same paths as the guests.

The rainy season is a good time for seeing baby animals. When you are able to get out on a boat or walking safari, you will come across elephants, lions, giraffes, lots of antelopes and even wild dogs. During this time of the year, their puppies are out of the den.

Lastly, a highlight of the rainy season is how it impacts your wallet. Many lodges offer reduced rates and often airfare is lower at this time of year. If price is an issue, March may be a great time for you to head into the Zambian bush!

Rainy season in South Luangwa

In summary, if you don't mind getting your feet wet and going at a slightly slower pace, a safari during the rainy season offers some perks that you wouldn't get in the high season, including: more bird activity, more flowers and the chance to have a less-crowded, more remote safari. 

Sources and credits

Robin Pope Safaris

About the author

Has been on: 20 safaris

I'm the manager of Nsefu Camp of Robin Pope Safaris. This camp was built in the 1950s and is the oldest photographic safari camp in Zambia.

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