Dramatic colours in Nyanga during Zimbabwe’s rainy season
Written by Luke Brown & Precious Tawodzera from Vayeni
Africa is divided into five main regions, namely North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa. Zimbabwe is situated in the middle of Southern Africa. It is a landlocked country, surrounded on every side byother countries and with no access to the oceans. Its geographically blessed location, about 18◦ south of the equator places it in a very comfortable position with the weather gods, who smile on it regularly.
“Zimbabwe’s blessed location, about 18◦ south of the equator places it in a very comfortable position with the weather gods, who smile on it regularly.”
There are a few different seasons, that are not as distinguished as those in more temperate areas, but they are still individual enough to notice and appreciate. From November till March, it is the rainy season. The country experiences heavy thunderstorms and lightning during this period, especially in December, January and February. As we write this we are in the middle of this season and are experiencing some dramatic thunderstorms and heavy downpours. The beauty of these is that they are typified by short, sharp outbursts of punctuated dramatics and then the sun comes out again. As we look out the window everything outside is green, a stark contrast to the browns and yellows we will see in a few months time when the rains have gone. The farmers, of course, are generally the happiest people during the rainy season because their crops are well watered and they look forward to bumper harvests once the rains have gone. Maize plants are a very common sight during this season because not only the farmers plant them but almost everyone grows them in their backyards. Even along the city roads here in Harare one can find that almost every vacant piece of ground is filled with maize plants.
Our ‘springtime’ comes immediately after the rainy season. It is normally a short season from April till early May and we call it ‘spring’ because that’s just how it feels to us. This is one of the finest periods to visit Zimbabwe. This season is marked by fresh early morning breezes carrying a strong hint of serenity with them. Day time temperatures are ideal and the chances of rain are fast diminishing. At night one is bound to get a comfortable sleep. There’s a spring (excuse the pun) in everyone’s step and you’ll commonly come across people wearing light clothing with bright, happy colours. Animals have plenty to eat following the recent rains and everything just seems to be perfectly in tune at this time.
We then enter the true dry season from around mid May till August and we call this our winter period. It is certainly not as harsh as the European, North American and north Asian winter seasons, however, it is cold enough to warrant people having to wear warm jackets and woollen clothing. At night and sometimes during the day, the many household chimneys can all be seen ejecting a soft smoke from wood fireplaces which people have to warm themselves up. In Zimbabwe indoor automatic weather control systems are very rare and not really necessary. The early mornings of winter are characterised by chilly winds, and sometimes there’s a thin frost that clothes the grass in a fluffy whiteness. This soon turns to dew when the first rays of the sun appear and the middle part of the day reaches 20◦C on most days. During winter here, one need to be good friends with hot beverages, otherwise the common cold can become an irritating visitor. At least that’s the excuse many people use to double their coffee intake.
August and September present another magic period to visit Zimbabwe. It is similar to our ‘spring’ because the weather is very favourable. In fact many here call it ‘autumn’ because the colours of the leaves on many trees change vividly and eventually drop to be replaced by new green shots. The temperatures are just perfect again and rain is absent. For those who love fishing, this is definitely the perfect time to dip your fishing rods into the water and catch a few fish, especially the tiger fish which are so popular during this period as the water in the lakes and rivers warm up. In addition to that, the streets become beautifully decorated by the purple flowers of the Jacaranda trees that line them. On the other hand the blooming of the Jacaranda trees is a sure sign to students that their final exams are fast approaching. Our indigenous Msasa trees take on a colourful display of orange, purple and red until the temperatures signal their retreat and the leaves drop to the ground in vast quantities.
The country’s hottest season runs from October till mid-November. Temperatures during the day all over the country frequently top the 30◦C mark and the nights remain pretty warm too. It’s a great time for viewing wildlife in our parks though, as the animals tend to congregate around water sources as the bush thins out, and so it’s easy to find them with chances of seeing close encounters higher than normal.
So it is that Zimbabwe’s seasons are varied enough for us to notice their differences and indeed appreciate each one of them for they are unique and special. If we had to choose a favourite time however it would be the period we’ve referred to above as ‘spring’ with ‘autumn’ being a close second.
Some quick facts:
Rainy Season: November to April
Wettest months: December to February
Dry Season: May to October
Coldest Months: June and July
Most idyllic weather periods: April – May and August – September
Best game viewing: July to October
Best fishing: September to November
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