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Weather & climate

Zambia: Weather & climate

The best time to visit Zambia

We're often asked “When is the best time to go to Zambia?", and the answer is often complex. It will depend on many things including your interests, exactly where you want to visit and why you're travelling. One person's best time can be another's worst!

However, often a concern about the weather underlies the question of 'the best time to go'.

So below is a broad guide to the climate of Zambia. Please remember that this comes from records and our experience, not from a crystal ball. Weather patterns across Africa are becoming increasingly unpredictable, probably due to global warming; we're seeing downpours in the middle of deserts and damaging droughts when rains should be falling.

The rains in Zambia come mostly in December, January, February and March though the further north you are, the earlier the rains arrive and the later they leave. Eastern areas and higher areas generally receive more rain than western and lowland areas. This is Zambia's 'Emerald Season' – when most camps close and many unsurfaced roads in Zambia become impassable.

By April and May most of the rain has faded away, leaving a landscape that's still green, but starting to dry out. Nighttime temperatures start to drop, especially in higher and more southerly locations.

In June, July and August the nights have become much cooler, but the days are clear and warm. Make sure you bring warm clothes to wrap up if you're out at night, as some nights get very cold! Most of Zambia's small 'walking bushcamps' open at the start of June, when the roads have dried out sufficiently to allow access. This is the start of the 'peak season' for these countries – with often cloudless days and continually increasing game sightings.

Into September and October the temperatures climb: the lower-lying rift valleys – Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools and Luangwa Valley – can get very hot in October. However, you'll see some superb game as the animals concentrate around the limited water sources.

November is variable; it can be hot and dry like October, or it can see the season's first downpours. Often it's a very interesting month as you can see both patterns on successive days.

Weather in other African countries

For comparison, see similar climate charts and information for our other African destinations:

Botswana climate – Very similar weather pattern to Zambia, but with a slightly shorter rainy season.
Kenya climate – Slightly different weather pattern from Zambia's, with more than one rainy season.
Malawi climate – Almost identical weather pattern to Zambia.
Mozambique climate – Very similar weather pattern to Zambia’s.
Namibia climate – Much drier than Zambia, but following a similar pattern.
Rwanda climate – Completely different weather pattern from Zambia.
Seychelles climate – Completely different weather pattern from Zambia.
Cape of South Africa climate – Almost completely ‘opposite’ weather pattern to Zambia’s.
Tanzania climate – Slightly different weather pattern from Zambia.
Zanzibar climate – Slightly different weather pattern from Zambia.
Zimbabwe climate – Weather follows a similar pattern to Zambia, but perhaps with a slightly shorter rainy season.
<b>January</b>: the peak of the wet season; it’s the wettest month of the year.
<b>February</b>: the rainfall is still comparatively high.
<b>March</b>: the last month of the rainy season.
<b>April</b>: the rain subsides gradually; most camps open again.
<b>May</b>: Most of the rain has faded away leaving the landscape beautifully green.
<b>June</b>: the rainfall has mostly stopped, the days are clear and warm.
<b>July</b>: the coolest month of the year so perfect for walking safaris; nights can be cold.
<b>August</b>: no rainfall at all whilst the temperature starts to rise.
<b>September</b>: a lovely and dry month with balmy evenings.
<b>October</b>: the hottest month of the year and the rainfall increases slowly.
<b>November</b>: an unpredictable month during the transition from dry to rainy season.
<b>December</b>: a wet, humid month as the rainy season has started; most camps close.

January: the peak of the wet season; it’s the wettest month of the year.

February: the rainfall is still comparatively high.

March: the last month of the rainy season.

April: the rain subsides gradually; most camps open again.

May: Most of the rain has faded away leaving the landscape beautifully green.

June: the rainfall has mostly stopped, the days are clear and warm.

July: the coolest month of the year so perfect for walking safaris; nights can be cold.

August: no rainfall at all whilst the temperature starts to rise.

September: a lovely and dry month with balmy evenings.

October: the hottest month of the year and the rainfall increases slowly.

November: an unpredictable month during the transition from dry to rainy season.

December: a wet, humid month as the rainy season has started; most camps close.

Our top picks for holidays to Zambia

We'll always tailor-make your safari for you. Here are some of our favourites to inspire you.


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Puku Safari

11 days • 3 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LIVINGSTONE AIRPORT

Discover South Luangwa’s prolific wildlife before exploring the wildly remote pans of Liuwa Plain National Park and relaxing in one of the Livingstone area’s most romantic and exclusive hideaways. A safari of luxury, style and impressive diversity.

US$13,200 - US$18,440 per person

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Perekani Walking Trail

10 days • 5 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Five smart but rustic bushcamps are the comfortable staging posts for this walking safari in South Luangwa. The route offers outstanding seclusion and rich wildlife with top-quality guiding throughout.

US$9,250 - US$11,500 per person

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Crawshay's Zebra Safari

10 days • 4 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

This superb safari combines two of Zambia’s best national parks, the South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. The camps are small and high quality with excellent safari guides.

US$9,760 - US$13,820 per person

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Duiker Safari

10 days • 3 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Three luxurious bushcamps in stunning riverside locations, split between the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks, offer a wide variety of expert-guided safari activities in stunning game-rich environments.

US$8,060 - US$10,020 per person

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Hippo Safari

9 days • 4 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LIVINGSTONE AIRPORT

Combining excellent game with aspects of remoter safari in South Luangwa, as well as the cultural delights of Livingstone, this trip also makes use of long-stay discounts, making it an excellent-value and well-rounded adventure.

US$7,480 - US$8,820 per person

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Giraffe Safari

9 days • 3 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

A safari to the remotest parts of Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Perfect for experienced safari goers and first-time Africa adventurers. Explore with expert guides whilst staying at small bushcamps.

US$8,390 - US$9,740 per person

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Defassa Waterbuck Safari

9 days • 3 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Stay in three intimate, owner-run camps during this exploration of Kafue National Park. Remote locations, true wilderness and a range of activities make for a real adventure off the beaten track.

US$8,240 - US$8,670 per person

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Civet Safari

9 days • 4 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Combining three intimate bushcamps in the quieter south of the South Luangwa, this safari will appeal to those looking for an interesting mix of walking and vehicle safari.

US$7,480 - US$9,230 per person

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Purple Roller Safari

8 days • 2 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

Explore the varied habitats and terrain of Kafue National Park with stays in two wonderfully remote bushcamps: sister camps that offer access to both the centre of the park and the wildlife-rich Busanga Plains.

US$8,790 - US$9,320 per person

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Greater Bushbaby Safari

8 days • 2 locations
LUSAKA AIRPORT TO LUSAKA AIRPORT

The perfect safari for a family or group of friends during which to create everlasting memories. Visit Zambia’s two most productive wildlife parks staying in four-bedroom houses, designed in a unique and fun way.

US$9,400 - US$12,260 per person

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Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

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