Best Time to Visit – Zambia

Alan Murphy
Expert
By Alan Murphy

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Zambia.

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Zambia.

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and authored the Lonely Planet guidebook to Zambia.

Alan has authored the Lonely Planet guide to Zambia.

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You have an excellent chance of seeing lots of wildlife in Zambia during the Dry season (May to October) when the animals gather around rivers and waterholes. This will fit in nicely with a visit to Victoria Falls, which you can see most clearly from June to September. A Wet season safari (November to April) is much more challenging, as most parks and camps shut down because of the heavy rain. The Mfuwe section of South Luangwa NP is an exception: you can drive its all-weather roads year-round.

Best Time May to September (all parks)
High Season July to October (not crowded, except Victoria Falls)
Low Season November to April (the parks are very quiet; many camps close down)
Best Weather April, May and September (pleasant temperatures; the short afternoon rains of April rarely affect your safari)
Worst Weather October (very hot in low-altitude parks) and December to March (the wettest months)

May to October Dry Season – Winter

  • It’s much easier for you to spot animals because there’s less vegetation and they gather around waterholes and rivers
  • There’s hardly any rain, the sky is clear, and there are fewer mosquitoes
  • Although it’s high season, most of the parks won’t be crowded except for Victoria Falls
  • June through September is the best time to see Victoria Falls – the water is mid-to-low, so there’s little spray to block the view
  • October can get very hot in lower-altitude parks like South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi
  • Morning game drives in winter are really cold, so bring warm clothing during June, July and August

November to April Wet Season – Summer

  • The landscape is greener; plus it’s low season, which means lower rates
  • You can see newborn animals
  • This is the best time for watching birdlife, including migratory birds
  • The rain mostly falls as short showers in the late afternoon
  • Some camps in South Luangwa stay open; they offer boat trips and are more flexible about you bringing your kids
  • The animals are harder to find because the bush is thicker and they no longer rely on rivers and waterholes to drink
  • Dirt roads become impassable due to heavy rain and most parks and camps close down – but Zambia’s most-popular park, South Luangwa, remains open
  • From October to December, Victoria Falls might just be a small stream on the Zambian side

Wildlife Photos

Best Time to go to Zambia by Major Park

For the best wildlife viewing in the main parks, visit in the dry winter months (May to October). This coincides with the best opportunities for great photos of Victoria Falls – between May and August. Any later in the year and you’ll find that the falls aren’t very impressive from the Zambian side, although you can cross into Zimbabwe for a better view. The rainy season has its problems, like washed-out roads and camp closures. But the landscape becomes lush and beautiful, the bird watching is wonderful, and boat safaris are offered in South Luangwa.

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