Want to know when is the best time to visit Zambia? Use this helpful guide to plan your trip.
Zambia is a beautiful East African country home to a wide variety of fascinating wildlife. Tourists flock yearly to see the thunderous waters of the Victoria Falls or cruise down the Zambezi river.
Although the weather in Zambia is delightful year-round, there are some months when it’s preferable to plan your vacation. This is especially true for certain activities.
Here is a detailed guide on the best time to visit Zambia.
The Best Times in Zambia for a Vacation
The climate of Zambia is divided into two seasons: the wet season, during the summer, and the dry season, or winter. Each season has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s our breakdown of the weather in Zambia.
The dry season in Zambia is between May and October and, as expected, is also the high tourist season.
During these months, you will likely spot more animals such as lions, elephants, and zebras. With the dry season, the skies are clear, and there’s less risk of being bitten by pesky mosquitoes.
Quick tip: This is Zambia’s winter, and morning game drives are cold. Make sure you pack warm clothing.
Despite the high season, the parks are not too crowded except for Victoria Falls. July is when visitor numbers are at their peak and prices for accommodation hike up.
June is perfect if you want to avoid the crowds or score good deals on hotels or camps. The ground dries up, and temperatures are pleasant.
August is the perfect month to combine a game trip with a visit to Victoria Falls. You can enjoy a walking safari as the bush is easy to navigate. This is also around the time when the temperatures start to rise.
September and October are the best months to go if you want to spot animals. This is when temperatures rise, and animals flock to the rivers for a drink of water. In September, you can expect to see the dazzling colors of the carmine bee-eaters as they head to the riverbanks to build their nests.
In late October, Victoria Falls may not be as spectacular as you expect on the Zambian side. However, you can cross over the Zimbabwean side to see the main falls in all their glory. This is also a fantastic time to dip in the Devil’s Pool on the edge of the falls.
Zambia’s summer and the wet season are from November to April. This is when the landscape is greener and rainfall increases.
Between December and April, Zambia’s parks are a luscious green colour, and the air isn’t dry, which means there’s not much dust. In short, this season is a photographer’s dream.
If you are interested in viewing birdlife, this is the perfect time to visit Zambia. There are also opportunities to catch a glimpse of newborn animals. This is when many herbivores give birth to their young, as it is Zambia’s calving season.
Although this is Zambia’s wet season, the rain mainly falls as short showers in the late afternoon. This means you can enjoy a morning or early afternoon excursion without worrying about getting wet.
Since this is Zambia’s low season, you may find it challenging to find things to do. Zambia’s most popular park, South Luangwa, remains open, but most other parks and bush camps close.
If you want to boat in South Luangwa, you should time your visit for February or March. This is when the bush camps, which are only accessible by water, reopen. Victoria Falls is also in full flow and at its most spectacular during this time.
Warning: The increased water levels during this time means that this is not a good time for white-water rafting.
Another drawback is that animals may be more difficult to find as they no longer need to rely on the big rivers and watering holes for water.
If you’re going to Zambia for the Falls, check out this guide on the best time to visit Victoria Falls.
Average Temperatures in Zambia by Season
The weather in Zambia and Africa is generally pleasant year-round, but some months are better for a vacation, especially if you want to view animals or revel in the beauty of Victoria Falls.
In Zambia’s winter, there’s not much rain, and the humidity is low. This is when animals usually head to the rivers to drink.
- May: This marks the end of summer, and temperatures are cool. They average at 12°C (52°F) in the morning and 25°C (77°F) in the afternoon.
- June, July, and August: Mornings are pretty chilly at 10°C (50°F), with afternoon temperatures reaching 23°C (73°F). Make sure you pack warm clothing for the morning game drives.
- September and October: These months are when the temperatures begin to rise. Daytime in October, the hottest month, reaches temperatures of 31°C (88°F). In the lower-lying parks, the temperatures peak at 40°C (104°F).
During these summer months, Zambia experiences most of its rainfall, and road conditions can get bad.
- November: In this unpredictable month, temperatures average between 18°C (64°F) and 29°C (84°F) throughout the day.
- December, January, February, and March: These are the wettest months in Zambia. You can expect torrential rains in the afternoon with temperatures around 26°C (78°F). The humidity is also high.
- April: The rains begin to ease, and the humidity decreases as summer ends. Daytime temperatures average between 16°C (61°F) and 20°C (86°F).
A Footnote on the Best Time to Visit Zambia
If you are visiting Zambia, time your stay for when it will suit your needs. Some months are better for visiting the Victoria Falls, whereas others are better for game viewing.
The summers can also get quite hot, so that is something to keep in mind when planning your trip. All in all, there isn’t a right or wrong time to visit Zambia. You just need to know what you want out of the vacation. So, book your trip to Zambia today, and prepare for a wild adventure.
Check out this list of Zambia safari lodges to find the perfect place to stay on your trip.