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Scuba dive or snorkel at Lake Tanganyika in Northern Zambia.
Scuba dive or snorkel at Lake Tanganyika in Northern Zambia. | © Lwanga Mwilu / Courtesy of Lwanga Mwilu
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When’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Zambia?

Picture of Mazuba Kapambwe
Freelance Writer
Updated: 5 April 2018
Zambia is a country for any type of traveler–from those wanting to visit Victoria Falls, go on safari in the national parks dotted around the country or to attend any of the country’s traditional ceremonies. With so much to do, figuring out the right time to travel to the southern African region can be daunting. Here’s our guide to when to go, organized month by month, with things to do and other important info.

January

The start of the year in Zambia is filled with heavy rain, which makes travel to other parts of the country difficult, but not impossible, due to impassible roads. Some camps in Lower Zambezi, Kafue, South Luangwa and other national parks stay open during this period—known as the emerald season—and offer discounts. Travelers wishing to save money on a safari trip should visit those national parks.

Average temperature (Lusaka): 72°F (22°C)

Average rainfall days (Lusaka): 17

February

February is characterized by rain and thunderstorms. Take a break from Lusaka and head to Katete in the Eastern Province for the N’cwala traditional festival celebrated by the Ngoni people.

Average temperature: 72°F (22°C)

Average rainfall days: 12

Paramountchiefmupezeni#Ncwalaceremony

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March

Due to International Women’s Day and Zambia’s Youth Day public holidays on March 8 and 12 respectively, many lodges in Livingstone and Siavonga, which are both located in the Southern Province, are booked months in advance by families seeking a short getaway from Lusaka. So prior plans should be made if looking to visit those places.

Average temperature: 72°F (22°C)

Average rainfall days: 9

April

April marks the end of the rainy season and the re-opening of many camps and lodges in national parks that were closed, such as Kafue National Park, Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and others. The Kuomboka traditional ceremony of the Lozi people also takes place in April, although the exact date changes depending on when the Zambezi river floods the Western Province’s plains.

Average temperature: 68°F (20°C)

Average rainfall days: 2

May

Labor Day is on May 1, which is a public holiday. Runners should sign up for The Lafarge marathon, the longest running marathon in Lusaka that takes place on the first Saturday of the month. The Alliance Motor Rally is held on the first Friday and Saturday of May. Africa Freedom Day, which is on May 25, is also a public holiday. The Livingstone International Cultural Arts Festival (LICAF), an annual three-day festival showcasing the tourist capital is held in May.

Average temperature: 64°F (18°C)

Average rainfall: 0

June

Temperatures drop further in June and it is typically the coldest month of the year, so visitors should bring warm clothing. Mountain biking enthusiasts can sign up for The Mountain Bike Challenge, a grueling 155–mile race in Livingstone, Southern Province. Escape the winter by spending a weekend in Siavonga, a popular town by Lake Kariba in Southern Zambia.

Average temperature: 61°F (16°C)

Average rainfall days: 0

July

The first Monday and Tuesday of July are Heroes, and Unity day respectively, which are both observed as public holidays. Tourists can head to the Victoria Falls and swim in the Devils Pool, an infinity pool at the edge of the falls. Escape the cold weather and head to Muchinga Province to soak in the Kapishya hot springs.

Average temperature: 59°F (15°C)

Average rainfall days: 0

Devil's Pool
View of Victoria Falls from above the Devil’s Pool | © Charles Haynes / Flickr

August

The month of August hosts many traditional ceremonies, such as the Likumbi Lya Mize of the Kaonde tribe in the North-Western Province—which celebrates male initiates; Kulamba of the Chewa people in the Eastern Province; Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena of the Bemba tribe in Northern Province, which celebrates harvest, and more.

August also marks the start of the hot air ballooning season in the Busanga plains of Kafue National Park. The Agricultural and Commercial Show trade fair is held during the first weekend of the month. The first Monday of the month is Farmers Day and a public holiday. Early August is usually windy and dusty, but by the end of the month the warmer temperatures mark the beginning of summer.

August also marks the start of the river surf season at Victoria Falls, which lasts until January.

Average temperature: 64°F (18°C)

Average rainfall days: 0

September

September is the start of the hot season, and a great time to cool off at Samfya beach—a white sandy beach on Lake Bangweulu in Northern Zambia—or to hike and camp at the Mutinondo Wilderness. Continue discovering the northern circuit by visiting Lake Tanganyika and scuba dive, take a walking safari in the Nsumbu National Park, or hike up the Kalambo waterfalls. Visitors should carry sunscreen and swimsuits.

Average temperature: 72°F (22°C)

Average rainfall days: 0

lake tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Activities on the lake include snorkeling, scuba diving and more | © Lwanga Mwilu

October

Oktoberfest takes place in the town of Chisamba, Central Province in the second week of October. Zambians celebrate independence on October 24, which is a public holiday, so banks, bureaus and other businesses only remain open until midday. The second Sunday of October is a national prayer and fasting day, and another public holiday. Various traditional ceremonies take place in October, such as the Chakwela Makumbi of the Soli people in Chongwe, Lusaka, the Shimunenga of the Ila people in the Southern Province and more.

Zambia Fashion Week is also held in October, usually the second week. The White Water Festival is held at the Waterfront in Livingstone in late October.

Average temperature: 75°F (24°C)

Average rainfall days: 2

November

November is the start of the rainy season in Zambia, which means national parks experience fewer visitors due to the rain making some roads impassible and the thick vegetation making it harder to spot animals while on safari. However, it is still a great month to visit Kasanka National Park in Central Province for the annual bat migration phenomenon, which sees around five million bats take residence in their temporal home while they feed on the wild fruits of the forest.

Average temperature: 75°F (24°C)

Average rainfall days: 7

December

In December the rains continue, but that should not deter safari-lovers from heading to Liuwa National Park in the Western Province to experience the wildebeest migration and spot lions, wild dogs and other predators. Christmas Day (December 25) is a public holiday.

Average temperature: 75°F (24°C)

Average rainfall days: 15

When not to go to Zambia

Although Zambia can be explored at any time of the year, June and July offer the least activities and are the coldest months, so visiting any other time would be ideal.