Many of the safari camps and lodges in Zambia have a short season. The poor infrastructure means that once the annual rains arrive in early November camps and game drive networks become inaccessible until the following season, traditionally re-opening around Easter time although many of the more remote camps only open June to October.
The situation has been changing in recent years with a few lodges now opening year round, although these are generally located in less remote areas, and others opening mid January to end March for river-based (green season) safaris. This time of year offers great value and the bird-life is spectacular. Game sightings won’t be as prevalent, partly due to thick vegetation making visibility difficult, but if a safari for you isn’t all about chasing big game sightings then consider a “green season” safari in February or March. The light is fabulous for photography, the colours of the bush are vibrant and the animals at their finest, with plenty of young to enjoy.
If you are keen to focus on big game action, or want to enjoy a walking safari, then really the peak season months of June to October are best. As the dry season progresses the animals tend to congregate along the river or near to water holes, making sightings much easier and often in bigger numbers. Many regular guests prefer to travel in September – avoiding the cold winter nights of July and August and also the uncomfortably hot temperatures of October. Remember that virtually all of the camps and lodges in Zambia don’t have either heating or air-conditioning. Hot water bottles will be provided on cold winter nights and when temperatures are very hot the camps often provide kikoys (a wrap/sarong) to wet and wrap around you during siesta time to keep cool.
March to May are the most dramatic months to see the Falls as this is the time of peak water flow. The amount of spray is likely to obscure your view however and you should be prepared to get extremely wet! As the dry season progresses the water flow at the Falls steadily drops, leading to excellent rafting conditions from August to December. At lower water levels we recommend viewing the Falls from the Zimbabwe side rather than the Zambia side, which may not have any water flowing.
There are also a number of special interest experiences in Zambia, occurring at specific times of the year. In November / December up to ten million “straw-coloured fruit bats” converge upon Kasanka National Park as the fruits of a local tree ripen. The best time to see the extraordinary Shoebill Stork at the Bangweulu Swamps is March to May. If you want to join an expedition to the isolated and rarely visited Liuwa Plain National Park then you will need to travel in May / June or November / December.