Zambia’s main airport is Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN), located 14km/9mi from the capital, Lusaka. From Lusaka, you can fly or drive between reserves. When your safari includes South Luangwa, Zambia’s most popular park, you could also fly to Mfuwe International Airport (MFU), just outside the park. If your safari is combined with a visit to Victoria Falls, you will most likely fly in or out of Livingstone Airport (LVI), just outside of Livingstone and close to the falls. In most cases, your local tour operator will arrange pick-up from the airport and further transportation as part of your safari package.
Zambia is situated in the tropics and receives good rainfall. It has a dry season from May to the end of October and a wet season from November to April. At this time, many areas become inaccessible and most camps in Kafue, Lower Zambezi, and more remote parks close down. The Mfue sector of South Luangwa is accessible year-round. The further north, the earlier the rains arrive and the later they leave. Eastern and higher areas generally receive more rain than western and lowland areas. The dry season is divided into the cool dry season (May to August) and the hot dry season (September and October).
May to October – Dry Season – Winter
- Game viewing is at its best because there is less vegetation. Animals gather around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot.
- There is virtually no rain, the skies are clear and there are fewer mosquitoes.
- Although it is high season, most of the parks won’t be crowded, except for Victoria Falls.
- June through September is the best time to see Victoria Falls. The water is mid-to-low and the spray doesn’t block the view to the falls.
- October can get very hot in the parks with lower altitude, like South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi.
- Mornings game drives will be cold. It’s advised to pack warm winter clothing during June, July, and August.
November to April – Wet Season – Summer
- The scenery is greener and it’s low season, meaning lower rates.
- You can see newborn animals.
- This is the best time for birdwatching and migratory birds are present.
- Rains are mostly short showers late in the afternoon and are seldom continuous for days.
- Some camps in South Luangwa stay open, offer boat trips and are more flexible about bringing children.
- Wildlife is more difficult to see since the vegetation is thicker and animals no longer rely on predictable water resources.
- Dirt roads become impassable, most parks and camps close down; Zambia’s premier park- South Luangwa- remains open.
- From October to December the Victoria Falls might just be a small stream on the Zambia side. The greatest flow of water is from March to May, but the spray often gets too strong and blocks the view to the falls.
Health & Safety
Zambia is generally a safe country to visit. This is even more so if your visit is primarily an organized safari. Around 800,000 tourists visit Zambia every year and most visits are trouble-free. There is a very low threat of terrorism. Unfortunately, terrorism has become part of life and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to safeguard against it. Fortunately, incidents are very rare and the chance of being a random victim is almost negligent.
As with many third-world countries, theft and muggings are relatively common, but most incidents are in cities- Lusaka and Livingstone in particular. Expatriates have been the victim of armed robberies in Livingstone, Copperbelt, and elsewhere, but tourists on an organized safari tend to be shielded from these kinds of risks. Walking unaccompanied through the city is not recommended. An overnight stay at a reputable hotel or an organized visit to one of the many attractions in or around the city is fine. Traveling or driving at night is not recommended.
High risk throughout the country. The highest risk of transition is in the rainy season from November to May. See websites below for more detailed advice.
Vaccinations are recommended, see the websites before for more detailed immunization advice.
Australia – www.travelclinic.com.au
Canada – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
Ireland – www.tmb.ie
New Zealand – www.iamat.org – Vaccinations / Malaria
United Kingdom – www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
United States – wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel