When is best the time to visit Zambia?
We are often asked by our clients ‘When is the best time to do a Zambia safari?’ But the answer is not always straight forward. It will depend on your interests, what parks you want to visit and why you're travelling to Zambia. The best time for one person may be the worst for another.
May to October - Dry Season - "Winter"
The best time for game viewing in Zambia is normally during the dry season, May to October, when animals tend to congregate around waterholes and the rivers.
South Luangwa National Park is generally regarded as Zambia’s premier safari location and Sanctuary Retreats has two properties in the park. The best time to visit South Luangwa is in the months from April/May to October. There is very little rain during this period, causing animals to congregate around the Luangwa River, one of the last surviving sources of water. This can lead to lots excitement with lions and leopards taking full advantage of other animals coming for a much-needed drink.
If you travel during to Victoria Falls in September and November (or early December) there may be no water coming over the Zambian side of the falls, in which case you'll need to cross over to Zimbabwe to see the main falls. Certain activities such as white-water rafting are only on offer when water levels are low, and this is also the time to take a dip in the Devil’s Pool – a natural rock pool right on the edge of the falls.
Top Tips - Dry Season
♦ Although it is the high season, parks will not be crowded, with exception of Victoria Falls.
♦ Game viewing is at its best because there is less vegetation. Animals gather around waterholes them easier to spot.
♦ There is likely to be no rain, with clear blue skies and few mosquitoes
♦ There are fewer mosquitos when it is cooler (June-July) but as soon as it starts to warm up around mid to end of August the mosquitoes increase
− October can get very hot in South Luangwa as it’s at low altitude
− Mornings game drives can be cold. During June to August it’s best to pack some warm clothes or layers.
November to April - Wet Season - Summer
The rainy season is also known as the "Green Season" as the bush is beautifully green and lush. This however makes game viewing more difficult as the vegetation is so thick plus many animals move away from the water sources they used in the dry season.
By mid-November in South Luangwa National Park the rains arrive, causing the reserve’s greenery to burst into life. The animals spread out again and can be more difficult to spot as the bush thickens. This is a time of plenty featuring huge numbers of birds and is the birthing season for mammals. Despite the wildlife interest of the wet season, it is worth noting that many lodges in this region are closed from mid-November to April, due to the inaccessibility of many parts of the park. Sanctuary Puku Ridge Camp is closed from January to March, but Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge remains open all year.
The best time to visit Victoria Falls on the Zambia side is at the end of the rainy season (March - May) when the Zambezi River is in full flood and the falls are at their most spectacular. Be prepared to get soaked by the spray.
Top Tips - Wet Season
♦ You can see lots newborn animals.
♦ This is the best time for birdwatching and migratory birds
♦ Rains are mostly short showers late in the afternoon and are rarely continuous for days.
♦ The scenery is greener and it's low season, meaning lower rates.
Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge stays open year round with all weather access roads
− Wildlife is more difficult to see since the vegetation is thicker and animals no longer congregate at waterholes
− Some roads can become impassable, some parks and camps close down; Zambia's premier park- South Luangwa- remains open.
− From October to December the Victoria Falls might just be a small stream on the Zambia side. The greatest flow of water is from March to May, but the spray sometimes gets too strong and blocks the view to the falls.
− There are more mosquitoes when the weather is warmer
Stay Longer, Pay Less
Enjoy extra on your safari getaway with Sanctuary Retreats' extended stay offer in 2016 and 2017, when you stay at one or more of our properties in Zambia (or elsehwere) depending on your season of travel:
Stay 3-4 nights & save up to 30%
Stay 5-7 nights & save up to 35%
Stay 8+ nights & save up to 40%
To find out more about this offer, please refer to the rates of each of our properties.