Virtually no rain during the safari season although occasional showers can be expected into May and from October onwards. Typically less than 400mm(15 inches) of rain falls per annum.
The temperature in the valley varies considerably, between a mean of 19 degrees Celsius in June to a mean of 30 degrees Celsius in October.
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Game viewing in the Lower Zambezi NP is excellent throughout the safari season although the Park looks different at different times of the year.
|Mid Nov - Mid April||Rainy Season, Chiawa Camp is closed until mid-April.|
|April - May||Occasional storms, clear skies and warm to hot weather. Bush lush and green, water holes are full and covered with wild fowl. Good game viewing for lion though elephant & buffalo still dispersed. Some game viewing loops might still be closed because of high water levels. Great birding.|
|June - July||Old Mondoro, Chiawa’s bush camp, opens early June. Can be cold in the mornings and nights, especially on game drives, but warm during the day. Bush drying out and game viewing great. Park accessible and skies still clear. Trees start to lose their leaves & buffalo herds start moving in.|
|August||Temperatures comfortable and game viewing excellent. Waterholes drying up and game beginning to concentrate near the Zambezi. Tigerfish begin to bite but still a bit lethargic. Skies beginning to get hazy from dust and from bushfires in the hills. Flame Creeper in flower - bright red canopies in the acacia trees – stunning!|
|September||Temperatures warming up and hot in the middle of the day. Game concentrating around the Zambezi and tigerfish on the bite. Carmine bee- eaters nesting in the riverbanks – game still excellent.|
|October||New leaves and flowers on trees, weather hot! Game very concentrated on banks of the Zambezi, tigerfishing at its best. Clouds building up, slight possibility of rainstorms. Air begins to clear. Time to see newborn warthogs.|
|November||Rain likely, weather hot and humid but cooling down with some cloud cover, newborn impalas appearing. Migrant birds start reappearing (esp. cuckoos & storks). Fishing still excellent if not too much rain. Game viewing excellent, bush looking green but not lush enough to interfere with game viewing – personally my favourite time of the year in the Zambezi Valley.|
The terrain in the LZNP is varied – if you are going to combine our two camps we recommend 3-4 nights at Chiawa and 2-3 nights at Old Mondoro.
It does not really matter which you do first as it is an issue of personal preference. You might like to start with the more sophisticated Chiawa and then finish off in the more rustic Old Mondoro. Or alternatively start at Old Mondoro and then ‘relax & recover’ at Chiawa however we find the most rewarding order is to start at Chiawa Camp and then finish at Old Mondoro especially for those guests that value privacy and intimacy.
Chiawa Camp Area:
Chiawa is on the banks of the Zambezi in one of the most game-rich areas of the Lower Zambezi NP (& Zambia). Chiawa’s location is unrivalled, inside the LZNP and opposite Mana Pools NP in Zimbabwe; there is a bountiful wildlife population on both sides of the river with little human presence! Numerous elephant, lion, leopard & buffalo and other species are literally on our doorstep. None of the roads are for all-weather use. The bush is generally quite thick, with lovely lagoons, woodland and open grassland in the vicinity. The riverbanks are well established, as is the surrounding vegetation, with ancient baobab trees and acacia groves. Chiawa is between two renowned lagoons for canoeing, the Chifungulu Channel and Waterbuck Island Lagoon, and both are regularly utilised by our canoe trips. Although 1-3 hour walks are on offer at Chiawa there is more open country at our bush camp, Old Mondoro.
Old Mondoro Camp Area:
Old Mondoro is our bush camp, also on the banks of the Zambezi some 35 kms downstream of Chiawa Camp. Although boating and game drives are available, here we concentrate on exceptional walking opportunities. The terrain in this part of the Park is quite different from Chiawa – where the Zambezi Valley is a vast flood plain dotted with young Acacia growth (plus some absolutely stunning mature Mopane and Albida woodland) and laced with an extensive lagoon system. This is ideal walking country – vast open plains and groves of Mahogany trees, and bird-rich lagoons make this a walker’s paradise. This area is even more remote than Chiawa so the possibility of bumping into other game drive vehicles is even less likely, although this area sees more boating traffic than Chiawa does as Old Mondoro is opposite the Chewore Concession in Zimbabwe, which is not as well protected as Mana Pools NP.
This area is excellent for leopard, wild dog and serval, as well as for zebra and kudu. It does not have as many elephant or buffalo as Chiawa but the other species makes up for it. Of course lion & hyena are also seen regularly, with occasional roan and eland sightings!