An African safari may be a dream come true for many and there is no better place to fulfil this dream than in Zambia. Game drives and river safaris enable you to immerse oneself in the picturesque African wilderness. Canoeing and angling on the Lower Zambezi River are perfect for those looking for a bit of an adventure, sunset cruises and bird watching are a more relaxing experience for those that want to take it all in.
However, choosing the right time of year to embark on an African safari can determine whether you have a good or excellent safari experience. We recommend you visit this breath-taking wilderness during the “Dry Season” or the “Shoulder Season”.
Baines’ explores the different Zambian seasons to help you decide on when the best time would be for you to book your next Zambian Safari.
The Dry Season: June – October
If you want to see a variety of wildlife, then booking your trip in the dry season will dramatically improve your chances. The dry season is when the animals gather along riverbeds and around waterholes, as water is scarce, making this the ideal time for visitors to spot game.
The dry season takes place during Zambia’s Winter, but it is not like Winter in the northern hemisphere; Winter in Zambia means blue skies, lots of sunshine and hardly a drop of rain. The mornings in June and July can be on the cooler side, so pack a warm jacket for those early morning game drives.
The thermometer then climbs steadily as the month’s progress into October; this is when Zambia is blazing hot and at its driest. During this time foliage is scarce and game viewing opportunities around the water sources are exceptionally good. You can even expect to witness some exciting predator action too.
Shoulder Season: November, April and May
November, April and May are known as the ‘shoulder season’ months in Zambia – where the wet and dry seasons are easing out of one another. November hasn’t quite seen the onset of the rains and during April and May, they’ve pretty much passed – although nothing’s set in stone.
Thankfully, the shoulder season still provides a good game viewing environment and you’d typically find great deals at camps and lodges, making it the best time of year to travel.
April and May is also the best time to visit Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side when the Zambezi River is in full flood, and the falls display their full glory. Bring a raincoat as you will be drenched by the spray that can be hundreds of meters up in the air.
Rainy Season / Green Season: December – April
This time of year is lush and wet, where Zambia’s landscape is beautifully thick and green. Because the vegetation is so dense, and water freely available, it does make game viewing more challenging. During the wetter months, some lodges close as road access may become limited due to seasonal rains.
The rainy or green season will continue through to March / April and even though it may be wet, it is the best time of year to visit Zambia for photographers and nature-lovers as this is when Zambia is green, fresh, light and not a speck of dust in sight.
Wildebeest Migration: November – December
The second-largest wildebeest migration on the African continent takes place at Liuwa Plains in late November to December and April to early June. It can be likened to a raging storm on the ground made up of dust and beasts intertwined.
The challenges you may face should you want to visit are that flights to Kalabo are seasonal and accommodation is limited. However, if you find both and it fits in with your plans, then this is a magical experience that cannot be missed.