The 'Green Season'… Kenya in bloom


| September 19, 2016

Africa specialist Jonathan Fitzsimmonds travelled to Kenya in early November, and was pleased to find many reasons why the so called ‘green season’ can be a great time to travel.

Elephant Parade in the Green Season, Masai Mara

In east Africa, there are two rainy seasons. The ‘long rains’ start to come in March, are at their worst in April to May, and tail off again in June. While the weather in April or May might not be ideal, the months on either side can be very rewarding. Meanwhile, the period from late October to early December is characterised by the much less severe ‘short’ rains; each of these rainy periods are often referred to as the ‘green season’.

During the transitional long rain periods and throughout the short rains, the weather can be much more pleasant than you would expect. You may have several days of sunshine, and then the odd dramatic shower to cool things down – I certainly found this to be the case.

Here are some more of the advantages to travelling during these particular 'green seasons'.

Lush Grasslands

This is when the scenery really comes to life, and brown scrub is dramatically transformed into emerald green. Wildflowers are abundant – in Nairobi the jacaranda trees are in full blossom.

These elephants in Samburu National Park, located in the arid north of the country, were having a field day.

Elephants during the green season - Samburu National Park

Empty spaces and quiet lodges

The word ‘rain’ tends to send most travellers packing in other directions. You will be less likely to encounter hoards of vehicles around a sighting, and you may well find you have your safari lodge to yourself (or just a few others).

Samburu Sundowners – Sasaab Lodge Private Deck with a View, Karen Blixen Camp, Masai Mara
Left: Samburu Sundowners – Sasaab Lodge
Right: Private Deck with a View, Karen Blixen Camp, Masai Mara

Affordable Prices and Circuit Discounts

To encourage guests to visit outside of peak season months, many lodges offer great special offers. I stayed at the delightful Lewa Safari Camp in the Laikipia region, which offers savings of up to £150 per person, per night in the off season. In addition, if combined with other lodges in the Cheli and Peacock group, further savings can be made.

Birdlife

For most of Africa, the green season is considered to be the best time for birdwatching. As well as the resident species, a large variety of migrant birds arrive during the wetter months.

Lewa Safari Camp, Lewa ConservancyHammerkop, Masai Mara
Left: Lewa Safari Camp, Lewa Conservancy
Right: Hammerkop, Masai Mara

Baby Animals

It’s a time of plenty for the animals during these seasons, and they take full advantage of the abundant food as well as giving birth to their young. The lionesses of the Marsh pride in the Masai Mara had a large number of delightfully playful cubs, which I saw during my visit. The Marsh pride was made famous by the Big Cat Diary television programme and live in the vicinity of Governors camps.

Undisturbed Elephants

While driving through the Masia Mara, my guide from Southern Cross Safaris informed me that elephants are seen in greater numbers outside of the migration times. Apparently they are rather irritated by the thundering herds of wildebeest and zebra, and tend to move into other areas. Something worth knowing if you are particularly fond of these majestic, intelligent and highly social creatures.

Cubs of the Marsh pride, Masai MaraElephant Parade, Masai Mara
Left: Cubs of the Marsh pride, Masai Mara
Right: Elephant Parade, Masai Mara

Photographic opportunities

During the rains, dramatic skies and interesting lighting make this a fantastic time for photographers. Not to mention the lack of other vehicles to get into your shot!

Lingering Wildebeest

The traditional season for the great wildebeest migration passing through the Masai Mara is from July to October (depending on the weather). Even in late November there were still some wildebeest around in the main reserve, and I witnessed what appeared to be the last procession trailing south towards the Serengeti. The leader astutely avoided some lions in the grass and altered course.

Reticulated Giraffe, near Sleeping Warrior Lodge, Lake ElementeitaA last trail of eildebeest head South, Masai Mara
Left: Reticulated Giraffe, near Sleeping Warrior Lodge, Lake Elementeita
Right: A last trail of wildebeest head South, Masai Mara

Overall, I had a great time travelling in the green season – with vivid, green grasslands, an abundance of wildlife, competitive discounts (and lack of other travellers); I highly recommend it as an alternative time to travel in Africa.

View Cox & Kings' Kenya tours.

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