It used to be easy to answer the question about the best time to visit Zambia. Traditionally, the dry season, from June to October, was when the camps and lodges were open and game viewing plentiful. In recent years, however, both the climate and the season for visitors has changed. New wildlife areas and experiences have opened up and there are now many benefits to travelling outside the traditional safari season.
Camps and lodges are now open from mid-April/May to the end of November and there are good reasons for choosing to visit in low season. In April/May the bush is green and beautiful and grazing plentiful. Seeing animals grazing together in sunlit glades is a peaceful and rewarding sight. Nightly rates are also lower at these times and camps are quieter. Indeed, November is now considered by some safari aficionados to be the best time to visit Zambia.
You can combine witnessing the elephants walking through reception at Mfuwe Lodge in the Luangwa with the bat migration at Kasanka. This is the largest migration of mammals on the planet with 15 million straw-coloured fruit bats on the move. You can then end your safari on the wild Liuwa plains in the west for the second largest wildebeest migration. This is a really special trip and a unique itinerary for those who enjoy regular safaris.
The rainy season from December to April is known as the ‘green season’ as the bush is thick and green. At this time of year there are no crowds, either in the camps or on game drives. A safari during the green season is also great value for money. Some camps have become inventive replacing dry season walking safaris with green season river safaris. In effect therefore, nowadays Central Kafue, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks are year round destinations.
The best time to visit Zambia if you want to see the Victoria Falls is also not an easy one to answer. The falls are at their fullest in May time when they are vastly impressive from the air. But on the ground visibility is not so good due to the heavy spray. In July/August viewing on the ground is better but this is because there is less volume of water. At the end of the dry season in September or October, when the bush is at its best, the falls can be disappointing. All is not lost, however. You just need to walk over the bridge to the Zimbabwean side for better viewing at this time of year.
So the best time to visit Zambia has become less distinct. New wildlife areas and experiences have opened up for visitors all year round. Discussing your hopes and expectations with a good safari agent will enable them to draw up a personalised itinerary which reflects your priorities and budget, delivering an outstanding and memorable experience whenever you choose to travel.