Seasonal changes occur throughout the year in Malawi. Each season the landscape transforms the environment into a dynamic biosphere where the climate, vegetation and wildlife bring exciting changes of scenery and interesting highlights, some of which are uniquely found only in Malawi. Birdwatchers can discover migratory birds migrating from the north in the green season. Large mammals and wild cat movements begin to encroach waters sources and rivers which provide excellent safari sightings in the drier seasons. We have compiled an overview of the seasons to help you decide when will be the best time to take full advantage of Malawi’s pristine wilderness.
Green Season – January to April (17-27°C)
This period between January to April is often referred to as the green season. With much of the vegetation becoming lush and green, Visitors can expect short bursts of heavy rain usually lasting not more than a few hours. Birding is exceptional in the north although the wettest months in Nyika National Park., breeding migrant birds and birds of prey migrating northwards, such as falcons, buzzards and eagles can be experienced in huge numbers.
Further south thousands of summer migrant birds can be witnessed on the Shire River. With its waters reaching peak levels, African skimmers, blue -cheeked bee eater and alpine swifts are particular seen amongst other birding specialities.
Majority of large game mammals move back into the mopane woodlands, however surprisingly elephants flock to the river banks to chomp on newly sprouted reed grass.
Another interesting feature during this period are the blooming of Orchids in Nyika. Over 200 orchids bloom across the grasslands and valleys.
Certain national parks, lodges and camps are inaccessible by road, Charter boats and flights are still available. If conditions permit, a high clearance 4 x 4 might be permissible. Please check with the relevant park authority’s and camp managers before embarking on your journey.
Low Season – 1st of Jan – 30th of June & 1 November to 30th of December
These are the months that continue after and before the green season. The rains generally disappear in May with light scattered showers still reaching into April leaving the region with pleasantly warm days and cool nights as temperatures begin to cool down. Considered by some to be climatically the best time of the year. Most of the migrant birds would have left with elephant herds moving away from water sources back to feed on Mopane and mixed woodlands. Small herds of eland are still present up north alongside other antelope species, roan, reed buck, bush buck and zebra found generally all year round.
Everywhere should be accessible and high points offer views at best with clear views eastwards.
Peak Season – 1st of July – 30th Oct (7- 26°C)
During this season we experience months which become cooler in the early stages, June – July in the south bring warm days and plainly distinct cold nights. With clear cold days and July frosts up north. Regions begin to get drier with the first fires for grazing begin as crops and grassland are burnt to prepare for planting later in the season. The fires are also part of the DNPW’s early burn programme to protect forests and grasslands from late hot fires.
Wildlife drops to lower altitudes. Elephant herds return to the riverbanks and the resurfacing of Sable antelope begin to appear in the open as inland pans begin to dry up. Between June – August the flowering of the Candelabra Euphorbia draws large flocks of Lillian’s Lovebirds to Liwonde National Park.
These are the best months from March – September for wildlife viewing. Temperatures gradually rise into the hottest months of September and October. Wildlife species return to higher altitudes and Eland herds , Roan and Zebra start to increase there numbers. Early migrant birds begin to arrive to for the breeding season such as the blue swallows, who begin to prepare breeding territories, rare secretive birds like the white-breasted alethe, olive-flanked robin become more productive. Miombo Woodlands become beautifully orange burgundy and red especially in the foothills of Nyika and low woodlands of the lower Shire Valley.
September and October offer the best time for game-viewing, birding and flowers of bloom. Days are hot and nights are warm. Large elephant herds can be seen in large numbers, receding sandbanks showcase flocks of water birds – congregations of spoonbills, ibis, yellow billed storks and white faced ducks. Whilst flat-dogs (African crocodiles) bask out in the sunshine warming up during the daytime heat.
Rainy season – These are the months of November – December right through to late April when the rain’s start receding again. Just after the hottest time of the year October. November is an unpredictable month for the beginning of the rains and it can occur anytime in the month or later in December.
Be on the lookout for our season holiday specials as we offer the best deals based on seasonal rates. Remember to pack accordingly – warm clothing for those chilly nights on the higher altitudes and a good set of binocular’s for up close optical glimpses of Malawi’s fascinating wildlife and scenery.