What is the best time to visit Zambia? Our destination experts share an overview.
Zambia country has a sub-tropical climate with pleasant temperatures due to its high altitude. The temperatures average around 68°F in the highlands and around 75°F in the valleys. The cool, dry season, from May to August, is considered the best time to visit Zambia.
This is peak rainy season in Zambia and not the ideal time to visit the country. And owing to the downpours, many of the roads in the parks are filled with mud and slush, making driving and walking extremely difficult. Several camps and lodges close around this time so do factor that in while making your plans.
- The water flow over the Victoria Falls is high around this time – head here to marvel at the thundering waterfall with spray that can be seen from miles away!
The heavy rains continue through February, once again making this one of the least popular months to visit Zambia.
- The wet or green season is an excellent time for birdwatching, so depending on which parks are open during this time, you could head for a spot of birdwatching
March is largely wet, making travel difficult. This is the time the Zambezi river in full spate, making for a magnificent sight at the Victoria Falls.
- If you are planning to visit Victoria Falls around this time, spend time in the charming city of Livingstone
The rains continue through April, but expect them to gradually reduce towards the end of the month. Road conditions still remain slushy and muddy in most of the parks so do factor that in should you be visiting around this time.
- View the magnificent Victoria Falls on a helicopter ride!
With the rain abating in May, several of the lodges and parks that would have closed for the wet season, gradually open up. But be prepared for muddy conditions afoot! The landscape will be lush green at this time and while it makes for great photographic opportunities, wildlife spotting isn’t the easiest at this time.
- This is the start of the fishing season in Zambia, so why not try your hand at catching some fish?
This is one of the best times to visit Zambia. With the rains having just abated, the temperatures are still cool, averaging around 77°F during the day. The crisp, clear conditions make this one of the ideal times to head for a walking safari!
- Head to the remote Luambe National Park, which is rich in biodiversity
- This is the ideal time to visit Bangweulu to try and spot the rare shoebill stork
This is high season in Zambia. All the parks are open, the vegetation is thinning and wildlife spotting is at its peak!
- Explore the wilderness that is South Luangwa National Park on a walking safaris
- Relax with a river cruise on the Zambezi followed by a luxurious stay on a private island on the river
Cool, dry conditions extend into August making this a great month to travel to Zambia. The mornings are cool, but the days can get warm, especially towards the end of the month, with highs touching the late 80s. This is also the time the Likumbi Lya Mize Ceremony takes place in Zambezi towards the end of the month, providing a unique glimpse into the cultural traditions of the local peoples.
- Explore the extensive landscapes, and encounter wildlife during your safari in Kafue National Park
- With the flow of the Zambezi river decreasing, August is a good month to go white-water rafting on the Zambezi and bungee jump near Victoria Falls!
Cool dry conditions give way to hot and even drier conditions as temperatures start increasing through the month. Towards the end of October, the highs can reach the mid 90s so come equipped with a sun hat and sunscreen should you visit at that time!
- Embark on a walking safari in the remote North Luangwa
- Marvel at the colorful southern-carmine bee-eaters that swarm Luangwa River at this time
This is one of the hotter months, especially in the low-lying regions where temperatures can touch the 110°F! Wildlife sightings are still good, and this is also the start of crocodile nesting season.
- Experience exciting wildlife safaris in the Lower Zambezi National Park
As with many parts of Africa, November is an unpredictable month weather wise. While temperatures remain high, the rains can arrive anytime, which usually affects wildlife viewing conditions and can make traveling in the parks extremely difficult with slushy conditions.
- Hike or go horseback riding in Shiwa Ngandu, a beautiful lake surrounded by a hilly countryside
- Head to nearby Chusa Falls for rafting and birdwatching
December marks the start of Zambia’s rainy season. The temperatures during the day will still average in the late 80s so expect conditions to be hot and humid. Several camps and lodges do close around this time so factor that in your plans as well.
- December is excellent for birdwatching as the migratory birds return around this time!
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Best time to visit Zambia by season
The cool, dry season, from May to August, is considered to be the best travel time for Zambia when temperatures are around 73°F. At night it gets relatively fresh, falling to about 42°F. The rivers and waterholes are filled by the rainy season and attract numerous wild animals. Particularly great animal observations are possible in June and August. Many roads to remote regions are only passable during the cool dry season. During the hot dry season, especially from October, the temperatures and also the humidity increase noticeably.
In mid-November, the rainy season begins, which is also called the Emerald Season or Green Season. During these hot, humid months, the country shines in green. Many remote areas can no longer be visited and some camps close. Nevertheless, this season has its own charm – and is wonderfully suited for bird watching.
The climate in Zambia is determined by three seasons.
Cool drying time: May – August
Hot dry season: September – November
Rainy season: December – April (South) / October – April (North)
What to Pack for Zambia
The season you travel to Zambia will determine what you need to pack. Based on the time you choose, here is a list of things you should ideally carry: Rain gear including waterproof jacket and shoes, mosquito repellent especially during the rainy season, light clothes for day time and a jacket for cooler evenings, layers of clothing including warm jacket / fleece or jumper, gloves, socks and a scarf, light cotton or linen clothing with natural colors, light shoes and sandals, sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuit, light jumper for cooler evenings, long sleeved shirts and long trousers are useful for protection from the sun during the day and mosquitoes at night.
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