Call it autumn or fall, the wet season or even, in the southern hemisphere, spring: nature puts on quite a show during the last few months of the year. From turtles hatching on the beaches of Dominica to elephants parading through the property in Zambia, our lodges are witness to the spectacle all over the globe.
The short rains come to Rubondo Island in November, and a few quick downpours are all that’s needed to turn the whole island bright with blooms. Wild orchids abound, as do fireball lilies, and jasmine diffuses its perfume into the air. The vibrant colors add brilliance to the backdrop, making safaris by jeep, foot, or boat even more picturesque. Come December, migratory birds such as sunbirds and sacred ibis begin to arrive to feed on the lush vegetation.
What happens when spring comes to Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef? Giant black marlin swim in to breed, minke and humpback whales can be spotted offshore, and migratory birds like the lesser golden plover take up temporary residence. Sea turtles amble up on the beaches to munch on seaweed, and in November, the spawning of the coral reef can turn the blue waters orange. If that’s not enough, the lodge—the only one in this spectacular national park—has several special offers available this fall.
Temperatures may be dropping in other parts of the world come September, but in the Chocó cloud forests of Ecuador, located within a few miles of the Equator, the weather is mild and the wildlife plentiful year-round. Leaf-peeping takes on a whole new meaning at Mashpi Lodge, where you can pedal a “Sky Bike” through the treetops for up close observation of the canopy ecosystem, or climb an observation tower to get a bird’s-eye view of one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
That old adage about elephants having sharp memories is proven annually at Mfuwe Lodge, the central property of The Bushcamp Company. Every November, a family of elephants comes trotting right past reception on their way to a certain mango tree on the property. The fruit must be delicious, because they’ve been making this startling journey for years, and they keep coming back until they’ve had their fill. This means guests at the lodge, or passing through on their way to the remote Bushcamps, have a good chance of observing wildlife at close range—from the breakfast table. Check out a video of the full experience here!
Autumn in the northern hemisphere is of course spring in the southern hemisphere, and you can’t get much further south than Grootbos, poised as it is just up the coast from Africa’s southernmost tip. Set in the heart of the Cape floral kingdom, Grootbos is surrounded by hills blanketed with some 700 plant species, many of which are in full bloom in the springtime. Along with hikes and horseback rides through this blossoming landscape, the lodge offers guided flower safaris.
November marks the beginning of the rainy season in Malaysian Borneo. Jungle waterways swell with rain, making it easier for boats to venture deep into the forest. This is one of the best times of the year for spotting wildlife, including proboscis monkeys and orangutans. Birders should arrive earlier in the fall, as fruits and flowers bloom until October, attracting birds-of-paradise and other magnificent species.
Every year, several species of sea turtle travel from as far away as Canada and Africa to nest on the beaches of Dominica, and the black sands of Rosalie Bay are one of their prime destinations. The nesting and hatching season begins in March and lasts until October, so if you stay at the lodge in the fall you might have a chance to watch the harrowing journey of countless tiny turtles down the beach to the sea. The lodge has its own turtle expert and facilitates turtle wake-up calls in the event of activity.
Located just four degrees south of the equator, the Seychellois isle of Fregate welcomes pleasant weather year-round. But come fall, the tradewinds that blow steadily throughout the spring and summer drop off, leading to calmer seas and creating ideal conditions for activities like deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and diving. These smooth sailing conditions coincide perfectly with the arrival of the whale sharks—guests of Fregate Island Private can swim with these gentle giants well into November.
September marks the beginning of safari season at Seal River Heritage Lodge. As temperatures begin to descend, the Manitoba landscape transforms with snow and ice—conditions that make wildlife easier to spot. This is also the time of year when animals are on the move. Thousands of migrating caribou pass by Schmok Lake, and polar bears return to the shores of the Hudson Bay, where they’ll linger until it freezes. The lodge takes travelers to where all the action is, and you’re like to spot other wildlife—from black bears and grizzlies to foxes and wolves—along the way.
Ready to plan your Winter Get-away? Check out our Best Lodges to Visit in the Winter list for some inspiration!