One of the most frequent questions we’re asked by prospective guests is ‘When is the best time of year to visit Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park?’
The answer is that each time of year has its own unique charms in the Zambian bush. The rainy season, lasting from November to April, is a beautiful time of year. The country turns green and lush, and the birdlife is spectacular. The wet weather does mean that large areas of the National Parks become inaccessible, because of seasonal rivers that are in flood, and wet and boggy terrain. This is why remote safari camps close during the rains and reopen for the dry season.
Elephants in South Luangwa National Park during the green season
The dry months, from June to October are really the prime game-viewing season in Zambia, especially for large wildlife like elephants and predators. Nkonzi Camp is a seasonal bush camp, open during the dry months, 1st June – 31st October. The rest of the time there is a river running through our camp!
Here’s our round up of what you can expect during Zambia’s dry season, month by month:
June-July: Coming at the end of the wet season, the terrain has dried up enough for us to access almost all game-viewing areas of the South Luangwa National Park. Vegetation is still dense though, which means that we find more open areas with good visibility to conduct our walking safaris. By mid-July, the vegetation has begun to thin out noticeably.
The weather in June and July is very pleasant. Daytimes are comfortably warm but temperatures drop noticeably during the night. On night drives, the wind chill factor makes it necessary to wrap up warmly. Long sleeves, a good jacket, woolly hat and long trousers are a must.
July is rutting season for impala in the Luangwa
August: August is a month of two halves. The first two weeks are similar to July; cool, but with drier conditions. Towards the end of the month, temperatures start to rise. Water holes begin to dry up and large animals start to concentrate near the larger lagoons and the river. This is a great time of year for game-viewing and photography.
When packing for an August safari, be prepared for night drives to still be quite cool – a good jacket is still recommended. Lightweight cotton clothing and a good shady hat for daytime safaris are the best option.
August night skies: the Milky Way is breath taking and there are plenty of shooting stars to see
September-October These are Zambia’s hottest months. As the landscape dries out and we wait eagerly for the rains to return, the game-viewing is exceptional. With very little vegetation, it’s much easier to spot wildlife. Large numbers of buffalo and elephant concentrate in well-watered areas, which in turn means that predators like lions become easier to track.
The sun is fierce and daytime temperatures high in September and October. As long as you come prepared with a good broad-brimmed hat, lightweight cotton clothing, and stay well hydrated, the warm weather is definitely manageable. Night times can be very warm, but one of the joys of sleeping under canvas is that your room won’t retain the daytime heat for too long. Our pedestal fans in each tent also ensure a good night’s sleep. The incredible wildlife sightings at this time of year makes it all worthwhile.
With the hot months of September and October come the beautiful carmine bee eaters
We would love to help answer any more questions you may have travelling to Zambia and South Luangwa – just drop us a line on our Contact Page for answers.