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Safari In The Wet Season
Safari in Africa is the dry season. It is when the bush becomes increasingly parched and the animals have fewer and fewer places to find water. At the time, the only place for them to go is the water hole and there you find tourists zooming with their cameras. It is in fact, an easy way to see wild life but not a good way to see the wild.

But wilderness as we know, erupts during the rainy season. When the rains come, the rivers swell, the bush bursts with life, the colours are incredibly vivid and you the most marvellous sense of renewal and abundance.

When To go

In Africa, April is the end of the rainy season and the river was upto its brim. Although it was the wildlife they had come to see, it was the river itself that became a constant source of fascination. During the dry season, between May and November, the Luangwa river in the South Luangwa valley in Zambia is little more than a trickle, much to the distress of the thousands of hippos that live in it. Now, the river being full, they grunt and squel as they squabble over wallowing rights. By April, however, the river is close to bursting its banks. Beneath the surface, herds of hippo harrumph contentedly, only their snouts and small, round ears visible.

Where To Go

Robin Pope, one of Africa's collection of luxury camps in the South Luangwa valley, Zambia is running camps for the first time during the rainy season and it is proving to be a success.

The tour includes wildlife safaris begin with a boat ride across the Luangwa River to the opposite bank, the entry point to the South Luangwa National Park. Then you climb open-topped, open-sided Land Cruisers, hoping the rain would hold off. The skies can be startlingly beautiful; cloudscapes in the day and fiery orange sunsets in the evenings.

Close Encounters

With a vegetation running riot, guides advise that that you wont see many animals but 5 minutes drive and there is a pride of lions stretched out on the road in post-prandial bliss, rolling on their backs and licking their paws. Our driver killed the engine, and humans and cats all eyeballed each other silently for several minutes before the lions sauntered off.

Close encounters with elephants, giraffes, puku and zebras all followed. Then as the skies turned orange and as darkness unfolded and a dazzling view of the Milky Way appeared above, our guide switched on a powerful arc light that revealed owls and genets, hyenas and hares. We didn't spot any leopards or wild dogs, but there were no complaints.

River Safaris

Most tourists to Africa, as I said before, go during the dry season. Those who go during the rainy seasons still like to take the normal vehicle safari. But the real fun is in the river safari. These run between February and April, when the river is at its most swollen. The tours are led by John Coppinger, who owns and runs Tafika with his wife, Carol.

Coppinger is a pioneer of rainy-season safaris. Guests travel by canoe or dinghy across flood plains and seasonal lakes to remote spots, where, with a guide and an armed scout, they head off walking deep into the bush. We moored the dinghy downstream and hiked through the chest-high grass along what, at first glance, looked like well-used footpaths. In fact, they were trails cleared by hippos on nocturnal food hunts.

Why Go During The Rainy Season

Coppinger is the proud owner of a two-man microlight and , providing the conditions are good, he will take guests on a spectacular low-level flights over the valley. At most times of the year he charges £50 for a 15 minutes ride, but during the rainy season, he'll do it for free.

So should you go during the wet season? Not quite. If you want to see lots of game up close – and enjoy some guaranteed sunshine – the dry season is very good. But if it's your second or third visit, and you're ready to give yourself up to the immensity and raw beauty of the bush – the awesome skies, the lush, fecund landscapes, the swollen rivers and the heart-stopping electrical storms – you know what to do.
About the Author
© 2006 Harish Kohli. Harish Kohli is an avid traveller who likes to share good adventure travel ideas with others. He is also CEO of AwimAway.com where he can help tailor-make an experiential or adventure holiday for you.
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