"Zambia is not the best-known of African destinations but enjoys an excellent reputation among experienced safari goers. Three great rivers, the Zambezi, Luangwa and Kafue, each form the spine of a fine national park. Among many wildlife highlights are endemic giraffes, huge hippo pods and great predator viewing – notably of leopards. Small private camps and top guiding make for an intense bush experience, and this is the country for walking safaris. Lesser-known attractions include the extraordinary migrations of fruit bats in Kasanka and wildebeest on Liuwa Plain, while birding delights include colonies of dazzling carmine bee-eaters and rare swamp-dwelling shoebills.”

- Mike Unwin

Zambia

Zambia may seldom feature as a first-time safari destination but it consistently tops lists of favourites. This is a country for the discerning safari-goer not too bothered about ticking off the Big Five, with immense tracts of wilderness, a rich diversity of wildlife, relatively few visitors and some of Africa best guides to help you discover it.

Most safaris centre around one of three major rivers. The Luangwa flows through South Luangwa National Park, the nation’s premier reserve. Home to huge hippo pods, plentiful elephant and numerous predators – notably leopard – this park offers safaris with all the trimmings. North Luangwa, its little-visited sister park, is less developed, with game more elusive, but feels even wilder. Further west, Kafue National Park protects a vast, diverse area centred upon the Kafue river, where game-viewing is less predictable but the wildlife diversity competes with any park in Africa.

Both the Luangwa and Kafue flow into the Zambezi, which forms Zambia’s southern border with Zimbabwe. Livingstone, on the upper Zambezi, has grown up around the world-famous Victoria Falls. Wildlife viewing here takes second place to the tourist thrills and spills of the great cataract. Further east, on the other side of manmade Lake Kariba, Lower Zambezi National Park protects a wild slice of floodplain between river and escarpment and is effectively a mirror image of Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools opposite, with scenic river lodges that offer fishing, canoeing and excellent game viewing.

Lesser known destinations include, in the north, Bangweulu Wetlands, with its rare shoebills, nearby Kasanka National Park, with its wet-season gathering of up to ten million fruit bats, and Shiwa Ng’andu, which preserves a fascinating blast of colonial past. In the far west, the flooded grasslands of Liuwa Plain host huge aggregations of wildebeest. Wherever you go, the guiding is unfailingly excellent and the safari experience fully immersive. The country is renowned for the best walking safaris in Africa, and night drives are the most productive I’ve experienced anywhere.

When to go

Find out when is best to visit

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WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

April can be a real gem of a month to visit if you are not necessarily looking for that classic safari – this is the best month of the emerald season. Temperatures are pleasant, and the rains are beginning to ease.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

April can be a real gem of a month to visit if you are not necessarily looking for that classic safari – this is the best month of the emerald season. Temperatures are pleasant, and the rains are beginning to ease.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

The landscape continues to dry up, with game sightings becoming more likely. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings can be surprisingly cool, so be sure to pack a warm fleece.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

The landscape continues to dry up, with game sightings becoming more likely. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings can be surprisingly cool, so be sure to pack a warm fleece.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape has now become quite parched; ultimately making this the perfect time for game viewing. Midday temperatures are hot, morning temperatures are pleasant, though occasionally cool.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape has now become quite parched; ultimately making this the perfect time for game viewing. Midday temperatures are hot, morning temperatures are pleasant, though occasionally cool.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Game viewing can be spectacular during October; however, temperatures continue to rise before the start of the rains, with midday temperatures over 40°C/104°F not uncommon. We suggest early morning starts during this time to make the most of the more pleasant temperatures!

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON

The first rains arrive, usually in the form of sharp afternoon showers. The temperatures remain very hot, while the humidity adds an additional level of discomfort. Game viewing can still be great, but just be prepared for a little heat. We suggest early morning starts during this time to make the most of the more pleasant temperatures!

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zambia has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zambia is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourses while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

There are also two significant exceptions to the above rule of thumb; Liuwa Plain National Park which conversely tends to offer the best safari experiences during the wet season and Kasanka National Park where the arrival of around 10 million fruit bats also corresponds to the start of the rains.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, while November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park

Kafue is Zambia’s largest park and one of the biggest in Africa. It's a diverse habitat with great wildlife, and a lack of tourist traffic in many areas. The park offers impressive top-end lodges, game drives, walking safaris, night drives, boat trips and spectacular balloon rides.

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Liuwa Plain National Park

Liuwa Plain National Park

Liuwa Plain National Park is one of the most remote parks in Africa and still barely on the tourist radar. Once the royal hunting ground of the Barotse, it promises pristine wilderness, though may not be for the first-timer. Access is by air, with travel around the park an adventure in itself.

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Livingstone, Zambia’s Victoria Falls

Livingstone, Zambia’s Victoria Falls

The town of Livingstone offers plentiful accommodation, and beyond Victoria Falls, attractions include river cruises, white-water rafting, and trips to Mosi oa Tunya National Park. Wildlife is bountiful, and a joint visa arrangement allows visitors to cross into the Zimbabwean side.

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Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park protects a game-rich section of the lower Zambezi Valley. Lodges are scenically located along the river where herds of buffallo and other grazers congregate during dry season, tailed by lions. Take guided canoe safaris, excellent walking safaris, and night drives.

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North Luangwa National Park

North Luangwa National Park

North Luangwa is a true wilderness with less visitors than South Luangwa, fewer roads and only a handful of lodges. The guiding is superb and focuses on walking safaris, where you'll meet huge buffalo herds, lion prides and countless hippo. Access is restricted to the May–October dry season.

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Northern Zambia

Northern Zambia

The vast Bangweulu Wetlands is home to a wealth of aquatic wildlife, including the rare shoebill. This whole area is Livingstone country, the great explorer having been laid to rest at Chitambo Village, and the English manor house at Shiwa Ng’Andu offers a fine cultural addition to any safari.

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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa is Zambia’s premier national park for both game drives and walking safaris. It protects a large tract of woodland and during the dry season, buffalo and elephant gather at the shrinking river. At small, owner-run lodges you’ll find guides who know the park inside out.

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