Weather & Climate – Zambia

Alan Murphy
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.

Climate Chart Zambia

Climate Chart Lusaka – 1,300m / 4,265ft

© chart: SafariBookings. All rights reserved / source data: Wikipedia

The Dry season in Zambia is a lovely time to visit – it’s divided into a cooler period (May to August) and a hotter one (September and October). Zambia is right in the tropics and gets lots of rain in the Wet season (November to April). If you arrive then, you’ll find that many areas are cut off, and that most camps in Kafue, Lower Zambezi and the more remote parks have shut down. Not the Mfuwe section of South Luangwa, however, which you can visit at any time of year. The further north you go, the earlier the rains come and the later they leave, while the eastern and higher areas get more drenched than the western and lowland areas.

Lusaka’s Climate Compared with Zambia’s parks

The climate of the capital, Lusaka, is the same as that of the higher areas of central and southern Zambia, including Kafue NP. The climate of the lower-lying South Luangwa NP and Lower Zambezi NP is considerably hotter: temperatures rise by about 6°C for every 1,000m you descend (or 3.5°F per 1,000ft).

Dry season May to October – Winter

In winter, there’s hardly any rain and low humidity. Thirsty animals crowd around the waterholes and rivers to drink.

  • May – The end of summer, when temperatures are pretty cool: typically 12°C/52°F in the morning and 25°C/77°F in the afternoon. Nighttime temperatures also start to drop and the rains are almost gone.
  • June, July & August – The average morning temperature is a chilly 10°C/50°F, so bring warm winter clothing for those early game drives in open vehicles. Afternoons are more pleasant, with temperatures around 23°C/73°F, although lower-altitude parks like South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi will be hotter.
  • September & October – The heat slowly builds and the first rains bring relief from very dry conditions. Daytime temperatures are around 29°C/84°F in September and 31°C/88°F in October, which is the hottest month. In the lower-lying parks, temperatures often peak at over 40°C/104°F, and the rising humidity can make you uncomfortably hot.

Wet season November to April – Summer

  • November – An unpredictable month, but usually with some afternoon rain. Temperatures average between 18°C/64°F in the morning and 29°C/84°F in the afternoon.
  • December, January, February & March – The wettest months, with heavy downpours in the afternoon. Afternoon temperatures are around 26°C/78°F and the humidity is high.

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