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Zambia Seasons | Weather in Zambia

Zambia Seasons | Weather in Zambia

There are two main Zambia Seasons that effect the weather in Zambia, the rainy season (November to April) which is equivalent to summer, and the dry season (May or June to October or November) which corresponds to winter. The dry season is subdivided into the cool dry season (May/June to August), and the hot dry season (September to October/November).

Most of Zambia sits on a plateau that is 900 m asl in the south, rising imperceptibly to 1,800 m in the north near Lake Tanganyika 800 miles away. This altitude has a modifying influence on the climate and makes it sub-tropical rather than tropical. Nonetheless, average monthly temperatures remain above 20 °C (68 °F) for 8 months of the year or more.

See also the water levels at Victoria Falls: “Moon-bow” or Lunar Rainbow at Victoria Falls  which do not mirror the rainfall as closely as you’d expect.

Weather in Zambia

Zambia Seasons – January, February & March Middle of the wet season

Water everywhere! This is known as “The Emerald Season” or “Green Season”.

Many lodges close at this time of year and piste roads in remote areas will be “challenging” or even impassable in places. Rivers rise high, the evidence of which can still be seen after they’ve gone back down, by the water-weed hanging from riverside trees and by the damage to small bridges.

The Kafue flats (floodplain of the Kafue River) flood. North and west of Kafue national park is the Bangwseulu Marsh which is a huge depression fed by 17 rivers, but drained by only one, the Luapula. During the wet season (Nov to March) over a metre of rain falls here. Human density here is extremely low due to the annual (and guaranteed) flooding, which makes it an excellent wildlife area. This is the best season for birding (by boat!) because insect activity is vigorous.

Meanwhile, in South Luangwa NP the lagoons and seasonal waterholes re-fill after the long dry season. Most of the game moves to higher ground, to keep their toes dry, and this is the calving season. Migratory birds are present in abundance. Conveniently, most of the rain tends to fall at night and there will be some spectacular thunderstorms. The majority of the lodges are closed till April (not all of them).

April Weather in Zambia

Is the month of change: the rain has stopped and floodwaters begin to recede. The Bangwseulu can be accessed by 4×4. Kafue and the Luangwa lodges re-open. The grass is high and migratory birds move on. It’s still warm by day but nights begin to cool (light fleece required).

May and June Weather in Zambia

Floodplains have dried out: grass growth peaks which can impede game viewing; but the scenery is green and abundant which frames your photos beautifully. In Bangwseulu you gain the strange sensation of walking on floating mats of vegetation – which aren’t floating at all, but the plants originally grew on the surface of what was open water, now settled on terra firma. Summer migrant birds have all departed.

June to Oct is the high season for the Luangwa NPs and Kafue NP.

The Book Bus project at Victoria Falls: The Book Bus – Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia and South Luangwa: Book Bus South Luangwa Valley Zambia re-open.

July and August Weather in Zambia

“Mid-winter”: the land is drying out and water is not so easy for animals to find. Daytime temps are fine, but it can get down to 1° or 2°C at night. In fact, at Victoria Falls in 2012 there was a heavy ground frost that killed many banana trees! WHichi was unusual.

September and October Weather in Zambia

The land is dry; lagoons empty and water levels low. Daytime and night time temperatures rise, gradually becoming hotter and more sweaty before the rains begin in mid Nov.

November and December Weather in Zambia

The rains begin. In the remote and seldom-visited Liuwa Plains, close to the Angola border, dramatic cloud formations erupt as the storms build, creating spectacular skylines and with the onset of the rains, carpets of flowers explode around the pans. This is the time when large herds of blue wildebeest migrate across the plains from neighbouring Angola. A migration as big and dramatic as anything Serengeti can boast but with no more than a handful of observers.

The “Green Season” is from just after New Year to the end of April and it is a spectacular time of year to visit Zambia – not least because tourist numbers are so low. The lush greenery of the bush is something really to behold and the trick is to find camps that stay open for 12 months – and will usually offer very good rates.

Air strips in Kafue that are open 12 months of the year are Chunga, Ngoma and Lufupa. A main road bisects Kafue which means the park can be accessed 12 months of the year even by 2×4 vehicles.