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Zambia Travel Guide

Zambia

Overview

Parks & Reserves

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Popular Routes

Getting There

Malaria & Vaccinations

Safety

Overview – Zambia
Zambia’s Safari Secret: Beyond the Majestic Victoria Falls lies a hidden treasure trove for safari enthusiasts. While the Falls are a bucket-list destination, Zambia’s true allure lies in its pristine and uncrowded wildlife havens. Parks like South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, and Kafue National Parks are untouched gems waiting to be explored. Embark on expertly guided walking, boat, and canoe safaris to experience the raw beauty of African wildlife up close, away from the crowds.
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zambia travel guide map
Rates (USD)
$187 to $913 pp/day
Best Time To Go
May to September: Peak Season in Most Parks
High Season
Victoria Falls and South Luangwa Experience Peak Visitation from July to October
Size
752,618km² / 290,587mi²
Pros & Cons
May to September: Peak Season in Most Parks
Eco-Friendly Bush Camps and Low-Density Tourism
Opportunity to Visit Victoria Falls
Superb Tour Guidance
A Premier Destination for Walking Safaris in Africa
Exceptional Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
Limited Additional Attractions Beyond the Safari Experience
Costly Safari Destination
Wildlife

In Zambia, the safari experience is rich and diverse, offering encounters with iconic African wildlife. From majestic elephants and imposing buffaloes to the striking patterns of zebras, the country’s landscapes teem with these safari favorites. Zambia’s lions and leopards command attention, while it stands out as a crucial sanctuary for the endangered wild dog. The mighty Zambezi River and other waterways host vast populations of hippos and crocodiles, adding to the country’s wildlife spectacle. In wetland areas, expansive herds of lechwe flourish, showcasing Zambia’s biodiversity in all its splendor.

Weather & Climate

In Zambia, the seasons paint contrasting pictures for travelers. During the Dry season (May to October), days bask in warmth, gradually heating up until October, just before the seasonal shift. However, come June, mornings dawn with a crisp chill, prompting the need for snug layers on early game drives. In stark contrast, Zambia’s Wet season (November to April) unleashes its full force, with torrential rain cascading down. The period also brings stifling heat and oppressive humidity, creating a challenging yet invigorating atmosphere for adventurers.

Best Time To Visit

During Zambia’s Wet season (November to April), the landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation as heavy rainfall can isolate remote areas, posing challenges for travel. While many parks choose to close during this period, South Luangwa stands out as an exceptional destination that remains open to visitors. In contrast, the Dry season (May to October) offers a more accessible and wildlife-rich experience. With minimal rainfall, animals congregate near rivers and waterholes, providing excellent opportunities for sightings against the backdrop of Zambia’s stunning wilderness.

Premier Parks, Reserves & Wildlife Areas
- Walking and classic safaris
- Walking, boat and classic safaris
- Canoe, boat, walking and classic safaris
National Parks & Game Reserves – Zambia
All Parks & Reserves
Wildlife & Animals – Zambia

Embark on an adventure through Zambia’s premier national parks—South Luangwa, Kafue, and Lower Zambezi—and you’ll almost certainly encounter four of the Big Five. The landscapes are teeming with buffalo, elephants, and lions, offering unforgettable wildlife encounters. Zambia is renowned for its exceptional leopard sightings, providing a rare chance to observe these elusive cats up close. For a thrilling experience, head to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where you can track rhinos on foot, adding an adventurous twist to your safari.

Wildebeest
Zebra
Buffalo
Hippo
Giraffe
Elephant
White Rhino
Black Rhino
Lion
Leopard
Cheetah
Wild Dog
Wildlife Highlights

In Zambia, the conservation success story of the wild dog unfolds, as these endangered predators thrive in their natural habitat. Witnessing these skilled hunters in action is a rare and captivating experience. Among their preferred targets are the lechwe, an antelope species that exists in three distinct subspecies within Zambia: the endemic Kafue and black lechwe, alongside the more widespread red lechwe. The country also boasts endemic subspecies like Thornicroft’s giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest, adding to Zambia’s exceptional and diverse wildlife tapestry.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

The prime time for wildlife observation in Zambia unfolds during the Dry season (May to October), characterized by scarce water sources that draw animals to gather around rivers and waterholes. With vegetation less dense during this period, spotting wildlife becomes more straightforward. However, as the Dry season transitions into the hot months leading up to the rains, temperatures can become uncomfortably high. The Wet season (November to April) brings its own challenges, with some roads becoming impassable and many camps closing. This period also sees the landscape transform into a lush paradise, offering a different but equally captivating experience for those willing to explore.

Recommended Wildlife Books
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals
Richard D. Estes
Tracker Manual: A Practical Guide to Animal Tracking in Southern Africa
Alex van den Heever, Renias Mhlongo and Karel Benadie
Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa
Chris Stuart and Mathilde Stuart
The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals (book and app)
Jonathan Kingdon
Wildlife Photos
lion - zambia
Birds - Zambia

Zambia’s avian diversity is a true marvel, boasting a remarkable 780 bird species. While renowned national parks like South Luangwa, Kafue, and Lower Zambezi offer fantastic birding opportunities, lesser-known gems are equally rewarding. Witness the breathtaking spectacle of migrating black-winged pratincoles at Liuwa Plain National Park, or explore the wetland birding haven of Lochinvar National Park. Kasanka National Park is a treasure trove of Central African bird species, including the captivating Ross’s turaco and Böhm’s bee-eater. A boat excursion in the Bangweulu Wetlands is a must-do, offering a chance to encounter the majestic shoebill. Migratory birds enhance Zambia’s birdlife from November to April, ensuring a spectacular experience for birdwatchers.

Notable Birds in Zambia

Southern ground hornbill
common
Schalow’s turaco
common
Southern carmine bee-eater
common
African fish eagle
common
Lilian’s lovebird
common
Endemic & Near - endemic Birds
(E) endemic = only lives in Zambia
Best Time for Bird Watching

The pinnacle of birdwatching in Zambia occurs from November to April, known affectionately as the ‘Emerald season’. This period, characterized by the Wet season, transforms the landscape into a vibrant oasis, sparking a flurry of breeding activity among birds. The wetlands burst to life, hosting a mesmerizing array of migratory birds mingling with resident species. However, it’s important to be aware that some areas may become inaccessible, and many lodges choose to close their doors during this season, adding an adventurous twist to your birding expedition.

Recommended Birding Books
Field Guide to Birds of Greater Southern Africa
Only southern African guide that’s comprehensive for Zambia by John Fanshawe, Terry Stevenson and Keith Barnes
The Birds of Zambia: An Atlas & Handbook
Not a field guide but an atlas aimed at serious birders by Robert J. Dowsett, Dylan R. Aspinwall and Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire
Birds of Zambia (app)
The only comprehensive dedicated Zambia field guide; a must! by Rory McDougall, Derek Solomon and Frank Willems
Roberts Bird Guide (2nd edition; book and app)
Superb but omits Zambian species absent south of the Zambezi. by Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies and Ingrid Weiersbye
Birds of Zambia (pocket guide)
Incomplete (only 425 species) but handy alongside ‘Roberts’. by Rory McDougall and Derek Solomon
Facts & Figures

Bird Species

550+

Migratory Birds

Oct to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Zambia

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Amidst Zambia’s stunning wilderness, the middle and late stages of the Dry season (May to October) offer unparalleled wildlife encounters. This period also aligns perfectly with a visit to the majestic Victoria Falls, showcasing its grandeur from June to August. On the flip side, exploring the wilderness during the Wet season (November to April) presents a more challenging adventure. Most parks and camps close their doors due to heavy rains, except for the Mfuwe section of South Luangwa National Park, which boasts a resilient network of all-weather roads, ensuring access even during the rainy season.

Best Time
From May to September, most parks experience their peak visitation period
High Season
From July to October, Victoria Falls and South Luangwa experience high visitor traffic
Low Season
From November to April, visitor numbers are low and many camps are closed
Best Weather
The period from April to August is cool and dry.
Worst Weather
October is very hot, while December to March are the wettest months
May to October – Dry Season – Winter
Wildlife is More Easily Observable
Rainfall is minimal and mosquito populations are reduced
Victoria Falls is best visited from June to August
October experiences intense heat, particularly in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi
During winter, morning game drives can be chilly; it's advisable to bring warm clothing
November to April Wet Season – Summer
The scenery is lush and green
Victoria Falls is best viewed in January and February
Newborn animals are visible
This period is optimal for birdwatching, as migrant species are present
Rain typically occurs as brief showers in the late afternoon
It's the low season, resulting in reduced rates
While most parks and camps shut down, South Luangwa remains open
Animals become more difficult to locate as they are not dependent on rivers and waterholes for water
Between October and December, Victoria Falls may reduce to just a trickle on the Zambian side
Wildlife Photos
lion - zambia
​Weather & Climate – Zambia

Exploring Zambia’s diverse landscapes is a treat during the Dry season, which is split into a cooler period from May to August and a hotter phase in September and October. Zambia, located near the tropics, receives ample rainfall during the Wet season from November to April. During this time, many camps in Kafue, Lower Zambezi, and other remote parks close. However, the Mfuwe section of South Luangwa National Park remains open throughout the year, offering a year-round haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

Lusaka’s Climate Compared to Zambia’s Parks

The climate in Lusaka, the capital, mirrors that of the elevated regions in central and southern Zambia, such as Kafue National Park. In contrast, the lower-lying South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks experience significantly warmer temperatures. For every 1,000 meters of descent (or 3,280 feet), temperatures increase by approximately 6°C (10.8°F) or 3.5°F per 1,000 feet.

Wet Season – May to October – Winte

In the dry winter months, precipitation is a rare occurrence, and the air is crisp with low humidity levels. This parched landscape draws a multitude of thirsty animals to congregate around the dwindling waterholes and flowing rivers, creating a captivating spectacle of wildlife activity.

 

In May, Zambia’s transition from summer brings cool mornings at around 11°C/52°F, gradually warming to 25°C/77°F in the afternoon. As night falls, temperatures begin to drop further, signaling the end of the rainy season.

 

June, July & August usher in colder mornings, averaging 10°C/50°F, necessitating warm layers for early game drives. Afternoons offer pleasant conditions, hovering around 23°C/73°F. However, parks at lower altitudes like South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi tend to be warmer.

 

Come September & October, the heat intensifies, and the first rains arrive, breaking the dry spell. October, the peak of heat, sees temperatures soaring to around 31°C/88°F during the day. In lower-lying areas, temperatures can exceed 40°C/104°F, creating a hot and arid environment.

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Wet Season – November to April – Summer

The months from December to March, part of Zambia’s Wet season, are less than ideal for travel due to the heavy rainfall and challenging road conditions.

 

November in Zambia can be quite unpredictable, often featuring scattered afternoon showers. Mornings are cool at around 18°C/64°F, warming up to 29°C/84°F in the afternoon.

 

December, January, February, and March constitute the wettest period, with frequent heavy downpours in the afternoon and high humidity levels. Daytime temperatures hover around 26°C/78°F.

 

As April approaches, the rainy season gradually wanes, leading to a decrease in both humidity and rainfall.

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Popular Routes – Zambia
zambia travel guide map
Popular Routes Where Wildlife Viewing Is a Major Part of the Tour

For an unforgettable safari experience in Zambia, small aircraft are the preferred mode of travel, offering not just transportation but a breathtaking aerial view of the landscape. Zambia’s approach to safaris emphasizes depth over breadth, encouraging visitors to immerse themselves fully in one or two parks. This allows for a comprehensive exploration, uncovering the hidden gems of each location. Alongside classic game drives, walking and boat safaris are integral parts of the adventure, promising close encounters with wildlife and the natural beauty of Zambia.

Zambia’s Best (1.5 to 2.5 weeks)

 

> Victoria Falls (1 to 3 days) is one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls

> Kafue National Park (3 to 5 days) is one of Africa’s largest parks and home to a wide range of antelope

> South Luangwa National Park (3 to 6 days) is Zambia’s premier park, famous for its walking safaris

> Lower Zambezi National Park (3 to 5 days) is great for canoeing safaris

 

Popular add-ons:

 

> North Luangwa National Park for walking in pristine wilderness

> Liuwa Plain National Park for a truly remote wilderness experience

> Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage for close-up viewing of chimpanzees

​Getting There – Zambia

Zambia’s primary gateway is Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN), conveniently situated just 14km/9mi from the capital, Lusaka. From Lusaka, travelers have the option to either fly or drive to their chosen reserves. For those planning a safari that includes the majestic Victoria Falls, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) near Livingstone is the preferred entry or exit point, offering easy access to the falls. When booking with Bush 2 City Adventure, your travel consultant will ensure a seamless experience by arranging airport pickup and any necessary transportation as part of your safari package.

Main Park Map
zambia travel guide map
Flights & Airlines to Botswana

Please check Skyscanner to explore airlines that offer flights to Zambia and to check ticket prices. Alternatively, you can visit the airline’s website directly to book your flight before confirming your safari with us.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Zambia

There are two main domestic carriers in Zambia: Proflight, which is a well-established airline, and the newer Zambia Airways, which offers a limited number of flights.

For travel between parks during your safari, small charter flights are often used. These local flight bookings are included in our package, and we will arrange them for you as part of the package.

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements
Entry requirements are subject to change, so it’s advisable to contact your local Zambian embassy or high commission to ensure that the information provided below is current.
All foreign visitors are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months.
Passports must have a minimum of three blank pages.
Most countries' citizens can either obtain a visa upon arrival or are exempt. You can find a list of countries whose residents can obtain a visa upon arrival and those who are visa-exempt from Zambia’s Department of Immigration.
A list of countries whose residents can get a visa upon arrival: https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/nationals-who-require-visa/
A list of countries whose residents don't need a visa: https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/nationals-who-dont-require-visa/
A yellow-fever vaccination certificate is required when arriving from a country with a yellow-fever risk.
For more information, including any COVID-19 related entry requirements, please refer to the website of your local Zambian embassy or high commission, or consult the government travel advisories provided below:
>> Australia – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/africa/zambia
>> Canada – https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/zambia
>> EU member states – https://ec.europa.eu/consularprotection/travel-advice_en
>> Ireland – https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/zambia/
>> New Zealand – https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/zambia
>> United Kingdom – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/zambia
>> United States – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Zambia.html
Malaria & Vaccinations – Zambia

The details presented here serve as a general guide and should not replace personalized advice from your travel doctor. For comprehensive and up-to-date information on health guidelines for travelers in Zambia, we recommend consulting the government organizations and travel clinics listed below.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are advisable; for more detailed immunization advice, please refer to the websites listed below.

Malaria Risk

The risk is high throughout the country, particularly during and just after the rainy season from November to May. For more detailed advice, please refer to the websites listed below.

More Info
Safety & Security – Zambia

Zambia is a country that we consider safe for travel, especially when you’re on one of our organized safaris. If you plan to drive independently, it’s important to get advice from locals regarding road conditions and the best routes. Driving at night should be avoided, and it’s wise to always respect the estimated travel times.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind during your time in Zambia:

Staying Safe on Wildlife Viewing Activities

If you adhere to your guide’s instructions, your safari experience will be very safe. It’s important to always follow the park rules and show respect for the wildlife. During self-drive safaris, only exit your vehicle in designated safe areas. For more tips:

Staying Safe in Cities & Towns

Like many major cities worldwide, urban areas in Zambia experience some level of crime, often involving minor incidents such as petty theft. Guided tours are generally safe, but when exploring on your own, it’s important to take basic precautions: seek advice from your hotel, use taxis after dark, avoid displaying valuables, and carry only essential cash. For more safety tips relevant to African cities:

Other Tips on Staying Safe

Please refer to the following pages and the FAQ section below for information on malaria, vaccinations for Zambia, and general travel safety tips:

Safari Tours to Zambia

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Things to know before traveling to the destination

Getting to Zambia

By Air:

The main international gateway to Zambia is Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) in Lusaka, the capital city. Other international airports in Zambia, such as Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI) in Livingstone and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (NLA) in Ndola. Major airlines like Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, and Kenya Airways offer flights to Zambia.

 

By Land:

Zambia shares borders with several countries, including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. You can enter Zambia by land through these border posts. However, checking visa requirements and border crossing regulations for each entry point is essential.

 

What is the currency used in Zambia?

The Zambian Kwacha (ZKW) is the official currency.

 

What time zone is Zambia in?

Zambia operates on Central Africa Time (CAT), which is GMT +2 hours, aligning with the rest of Southern Africa.

 

Can I use my credit card in Zambia?

Credit card facilities are not available in Zambia, including at Wilderness camps. Payments can be made in cash, and debit cards are accepted.

 

What type of power sockets are used in Zambia?

In Zambia, the standard voltage is 230V, with outlets accommodating two round pins or three round or rectangular prongs. Travelers from the UK or Europe might need an adapter, which our staff can provide during your stay.

 

What should I pack for a safari in Zambia?

Consult your Travel Designer about luggage restrictions specific to your tour. Generally, pack warm clothes for cooler months and light attire for summer. Avoid bright colors and white.

 

Is Victoria Falls located in Zambia?

Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, is on the Zambezi River, which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe. It can be viewed from both the Zambian town of Livingstone and the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls.

 

Is Livingstone, Zambia safe?

Livingstone is relatively safe, but like many places, it has some petty crime. It’s advisable not to walk around at night; taking a taxi is safer, especially as wild animals might be encountered.

 

 

Visas valid for 90 days are available on arrival at any port of entry, or they can be applied for online in advance. Additionally, visitors can obtain a single entry or day visa to explore the Zambian side of Mosi-oa-Tunya when traveling from neighboring Zimbabwe or Botswana. For the latest visa requirements, it is recommended to consult the official Zambia Department of Immigration website at https://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/for-visitors/.

 

 

Do I need a yellow fever vaccination to visit Zambia?

A yellow fever vaccination is necessary only if you are arriving in Zambia from a country where yellow fever is prevalent.

 

Should I take malaria tablets when visiting Zambia?

It’s advisable to discuss this with your Travel Designer or a travel clinic a few weeks before your departure. Certain malaria prophylaxis regimens must be initiated well before your trip to Zambia.

Photo Gallery of Zambia