In March the summer rains in Southern Africa begin to wane and the temperatures begin to cool just as the Northern Hemisphere winter draws to a close. The bush in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia is alive with young antelope, a variety of butterflies and wildflowers, and lush, green fauna and flora.
This is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit Southern Africa, with less rain than earlier in the season, yet due to the tall grasses and lush foliage, it is not the ideal time to spot predators. That's not to say they aren't there however and with a little luck, most visitors will still get great sightings. This is a great time of year to travel for value.
Certain regions such as the Kalahari are at their very best with incredible wildlife viewing (including predators).
In Victoria Falls, Zambia the mild weather pairs perfectly with viewing Victoria Falls at high water. The thundering drama and spectacle of a more than half a mile-long sheet of falling water will amaze you.
End of Rainy Season in Southern Africa
March heralds the end of the main rainy season for much of Southern Africa. March is an in-between month, not quite summer, not quite autumn. The weather is pleasant and mild. Temperatures drop to around 59°F at night, but climb to around 86°F or higher during the day, making for agreeable weather.
After months of heavy rain, safari locations such as the Kruger, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe emerge. They are cloaked in greenery and provide beautiful scenery, excellent birdwatching. As the rains ease and animals return to more accessible dry-season habitats, game viewing is good as we near the mid-year high.
As it is between Christmas and Easter, it is an ideal off-season month to travel and avoid the crowds. A safari in March is wild, beautiful, and wonderfully exclusive. You get to visit all of the major attractions with very few other visitors to witness the beauty.
This is an excellent time to visit Southern Africa because it is right before peak season. Game watching is frequently as good as prime time, and you might save a lot of money on accommodation. For families, this can be a wonderful time to visit as it is easier and cheaper to book camps and vehicles for exclusive use. There will be more availability and better prices for this option allowing you to create your timetable based on the ages and preferences of your family. Whether you have exclusive use or not, fewer guests mean a more intimate and personalized encounter.
Travel in March also rewards those wanting to get off the beaten track and explore the rich cultural tapestry of southern Africa. From exploring ancient rock art sites to meeting Khoi-San or Himba peoples and learning first hand about their fascinating culture there are a plethora of options and this is a great, quiet month in which to delve deeper into a destination. Contact us for more ideas.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Botswana's largest reserve is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, located in the heart of the Kalahari Desert. Similar in size to Denmark, the wide-open arid expanses of the Central Kalahari are epic in scale and sheer remoteness. This is unspoiled wilderness at its finest. It's an off-the-beaten-path area that's rarely frequented yet offers a variety of attractions.
Among these is the beautiful desert scenery with the potential to observe Kalahari black-maned lions and desert-adapted animals like springbok and oryx. Rarely seen elsewhere, brown hyenas, bat-eared foxes, and honey badgers are all common in this region.
The Kalahari, more than any other part of Botswana, sees a dramatic shift in the rainy season. This usually desolate semi-desert comes to life. The rainiest months are January and February, and the terrain remains lush and green until around April. March and April are great months to visit to enjoy the beautiful landscape and profusion of wildlife that gathers, without the frequent rain and muddy roads that can hamper visits during the peak of the rain.
After the rains, the inter-dune valleys transform into green grasslands. Animals concentrate around the pans in the Deception Valley and Passarge Valley areas as they migrate through the park, and enormous herds of springbok antelope and gemsbok (oryx) gather.
The springboks take advantage of the new foliage to give birth in large numbers. This is fantastic news for predators like the Kalahari's famed black-maned lions, cheetahs, and the occasional leopard. The flat, green valley grasslands are covered with flowers, and occasional tree islands are shaded by leafy green acacias. The deep, cool shade is perfect for animals to relax under, and predators are often found lying in wait here, gazing over the grazing herds.
As the sun sets each night, visitors are treated to the sounds of thousands of barking geckos, the eerie cry of black-backed jackals, and the spine-tingling roars of the lions. The sounds and the knowledge that you are in one of the earth's most remote wilderness areas will never leave you.
Another advantage is that March is an ideal time for photography. The air is dust-free, and this makes the colours richer and deeper, while the clouds add interest and beauty to the skies and sunsets.
Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia.
The spectacle of Victoria Falls is entirely dependent on rainfall both locally and upriver in the catchment areas in Angola. The great Zambezi River is in high flood from February to July, and the falls are at their most dramatic-typically peaking between March and April.
The powerful roar of 'The Smoke That Thunders' can be heard from 25 miles away, and spectacular columns of mist can drift up to 1 300 feet above the waterfall! If you want to see the most breathtaking vistas of the world's largest waterfall in full flow, go visit Victoria Falls around March.
The falls can be viewed from either the Zimbabwean or Zambian side of the river, and this is an excellent time to visit Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. This is because, at times of lower water, the Zambian side may have little water (it's the shallower side of the more than half a mile wide river bed). However, In March and April, you can view the full water up close from the unique 'knife edge' bridge that runs parallel to the waterfall. You will be sure to get drenched by the waterfall's spray being driven up with force, so dress appropriately.
Livingstone, the town closest to the waterfall on the Zambian side has some other highlights that make a visit worthwhile. Livingstone has a lot to offer visitors in terms of culture and history- the town itself was named after David Livingstone and there is a rich historical record of his time here, his campaign against the slave trade, and life in Africa. From trips to nearby towns, museums, art galleries, historical and architectural sites, to high tea on Livingstone Island or the Royal Livingstone Hotel, there is so much to learn, see and do that will enrich your trip and deepen your understanding.
A microlight trip over Victoria Falls provides unobstructed, spectacular aerial views of the waterfall and only the Zambian side offers this activity. You can also visit the small Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park that runs from the Victoria Falls, 7.5 miles upstream along the Zambezi River. The most notable activity here is the chance to view and even walk alongside highly endangered white rhinos accompanied by National Park rangers.