Zimbabwe Seasons | Weather in Zimbabwe
The patterns of weather in Zimbabwe are becoming less predictable and in southern Africa we’re seeing rainstorms in the middle of the Kalahari Desert and drought when rains should be falling. None the less, here’s our advice on Zimbabwe Seasons:
Weather in Zimbabwe month by month
JANUARY – Warm wet month
There should be some water in the pans and grass growth is strong. Waterfowl and cranes nest at this time. Herds of Wildebeest and Zebra accumulate in larger and larger numbers with calves at foot; grazing improves.
In Zimbabwe the rains tend to fall during December, January, February and March. Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, against the Mozambique border, get higher rainfall than the rest of the country. The tobacco harvest is brought in during this period and remains Zimbabwe’s most important cash crop (“cash crop” = sold rather than grown for food).
FEBRUARY – Warm wet month
Ducklings hatching – young waterfowl are in every pond. Sable antelope and Waterbuck are calving. Dirt roads are wet and some flood. Magnificent storm clouds mass; lots of rainbows and lightning is the backdrop for photographs.
MARCH – Warm wet month
The Rainy Season starts to wind down and small groups of elephant bulls are around. The plains are at their most pleasant with lots of grass and water lilies on every pan. Butterflies are everywhere. Wildlife is plump and every herd and troop has gambolling young.
By April and May most of the rain is gone, leaving the country verdant green; night-time temperatures start to drop.
APRIL – Wet cool month
Migratory birds gather: flocks of storks, bee-eaters, swallows, martins and swifts, waders, rollers and raptors all begin thinking of heading north. Buffalo herds are scattered through the woodland areas where the lion harass them nightly.
MAY – Wet cool month
Pans start to dry, so pumping water to boreholes starts. Nights begin to cool, bugs and mosquitoes disappear. Grasslands just start to turn brown and leaves too start to change colour.
The nights in June, July and August are quite chilly, so don’t forget to bring a warm top layer; the days are still clear and warm. For Zimbabwe, this is the start of the peak safari season. Days are cloudless and game watching gets better and better as the period progresses: fewer leaves on the trees and less water around, so game congregates around waterholes.
JUNE – Dry cold month
Cold nights and cold dawns = hot water bottles in the beds! Misty mornings on the plains make for awesome photo ops for those who brave early starts. Pumping picks up at pans as surface water begins to dry. Camel thorn pods ripen – elephant bulls arrive in good numbers, shaking the trees for pods.
JULY – Dry cold month
Big numbers of elephant return from Botswana and congregate in Hwange. Grazing on the plains deteriorates and herbivores disperse.
AUGUST – Dry cool month
Days start lengthening and become warmer. Game scouts look out for the first kite sighting – the first of the bird migrants to return. Grazing on the Plain gets poorer and even the wildebeest disperse. Wildfire season is at its height – haze from bushfires and dust in the sky makes for magnificent sunsets.
In September and October the temperatures rise once again; low lying areas such as Mana Pools gets really quite warm by October: game viewing is at its best. Tobacco remains Zim’s most important cash crop and September is when the new plants are moved from nursery seedbeds into the fields, ready for the warmer weather.
SEPTEMBER – Dry warm month
The dry season intensifies and day time temperatures start to climb. Pressure on waterholes increases and all pans have a procession of elephants that last well into the night. Grazing on the plains deteriorates – only small numbers of wildebeest and zebra remain. Migratory bird arrivals increase.
OCTOBER – Dry hot month
The dry season reaches its peak – traditionally called the suicide month – “wish it would rain”. Elephant numbers around the water holes peak to the detriment of other animals.
NOVEMBER – Dry hot month
November is unpredictable; it can be hot and dry, it can also see the season’s first rain: an exciting time to visit because one day it’s dry and the next there’s a monumental downpour. Usually the main rains break during this month bringing relief to all, including wildlife. At the first good fall of rain elephant disperse westwards to better grazing grounds. The rains produce the first mass insect hatching which herald a massive influx of migrant birds e.g. steppe eagles (hundreds); carmine bee-eaters; many waterfowl; knob-billed duck. Eland, wildebeest and impala calve and lamb
DECEMBER – Warm wet month
As the rains increase amphibians come out of hibernation and spawn; another bonanza for the birds. As grass develops the wildebeest and zebra return in large numbers. The exotic red fireball lilies are dotted across the landscape.