Zambia Safari - Complete Travel Guide

Mesmerizing landscapes, lazy rivers and rushing rapids, with great wildlife to boot. With leopards feasting in treetops, warm valleys filled with lush scents and massive crocodiles lazing on the sandy banks of the Zambezi River, Zambia offers an amazing wilderness experience. Top it off with remote parks, diverse habitats and amazing guides, and you’re left with the perfect safari.

  • Best Time To Go

    May - October

  • Average Safari Cost

    $200 - $1,000 pp/day

  • Highlights

    Great viewing of lions and leopards, huge elephant and buffalo population, wild dog is present as well as unique endemic subspecies of zebra, giraffe and wildebeest. Amazing guides, great walking and canoeing safaris, and night drives are excellent.

Why Go on a Zambia Safari

This beautiful country, with its many rivers, rich valleys and mixed landscapes, offers a journey that will tug at your wild soul, and leave you breathless in wonder. The remote parks will bring forth your adventurous nature, and the animals will draw you in with their wild beauty, ensuring an experience you will never forget.

Zambia offers an amazing wildlife experience – from the easily seen big predators (lion, leopard and hyena), to the more elusive wild dog. These unfenced parks provides the perfect setting for a safari. The more adventurous souls will love the fast moving rapids, while those who want a less dramatic visit can canoe along the rivers.

There is something for everyone to enjoy in Zambia – game drives, walking safaris, night drives and canoeing all provide excellent wildlife watching. Night drives are the perfect time to view leopards and other nocturnal creatures such as the bushbaby. In fact, South Luangwa National Park has the best leopard sightings in Zambia.

Elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and hyena are common throughout the country, and are safari staples. However, there is also the chance that you can catch a glimpse of the wild dog hunting impala – which is a rare sight for any safari. The country is home to endemic subspecies of giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, as well the rare sitatunga and roan antelopes.

Pros and Cons

  • Some of Africa’s best guides
  • Great wildlife watching
  • Victoria Falls
  • Walking safari and night drives are excellent
  • Low tourism hub – the parks aren’t usually full
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Malaria risk for the country is high
  • Certain camps and parks are closed during the rainy season due to impassable roads

Best Time To Go

Zambia has a hot climate that characterized by distinctive wet and dry seasons. It is important to remember, however, that the rainy season is warm and humid, and part of the dry season is uncomfortably hot. Do not allow yourself to become dehydrated – carry plenty of water on you wherever you go.

The best time to visit all parks is between May and October. Most camps and remote parks close down during November to April (wet season) due to inaccessibility.

Wet season: November – April

Cool dry season: May – August

Hot dry season: September – October

These are Zambia’s wettest months. You can expect heavy afternoon rainfalls, warm temperatures (78°F/26°C) and high humidity.
While this is the end of summer, daytime temperatures are relatively unchanged at 77°F (25°C), although the temperature will be much cooler at night. There is almost no rainfall by May.
Winter is in full swing, although daytime temperatures are still mild at 73°F (23°C). Night and morning temperatures will be cooler at 50°F (10°C), so bring along warm clothing for early morning and night drives. The parks that are at a lower altitudes (such as Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa) will be warmer.
Winter is over and the heat builds up again. Humidity rises fast, making these months oppressively hot. By October, daytime temperatures are 88°F (31°C) in higher altitude parks. The temperature in parks at a lower altitude often peaks up to 104°F (40°C).
The first rains fall during this month, bringing some relief to the uncomfortable heat of the previous month. The weather can become unpredictable with the occasional showers, and afternoon temperatures peak at 84°F (29°C).
Start your African Adventure

Wildlife and Birds

With large herds of elephant and buffalo roaming the banks of the Zambezi River, leopards easily glimpsed during night drives in the South Luangwa valley, and thousands of red lechwe antelope in the swamps of Kafue, Zambia is a great wildlife destination. The large predators – lion, leopard and hyena – are common across Zambia. The wild dog, while difficult to find, is also present.
List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • Black Rhino
  • White Rhino
  • Wildebeest
  • Wild Dog
  • Zebra
  • Crocodile

Rare Animals

  • Wild dog
  • Black rhino
  • White rhino
  • Cheetah
  • Sitatunga antelope
  • Roan antelope

Infrequently Seen Animals

  • Giraffe
  • Wildebeest
  • Oribi

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant
  • Buffalo
  • Hippo
  • Zebra
  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Hyena
  • Crocodile
  • Impala
  • Red lechwe
  • Greater kudu
  • Waterbuck

Best Of Wildlife

Large Predators

The best thing about wildlife viewing in Zambia, is how easy it is spot leopards. The fantastic night drives and excellent guides almost ensures that you’ll see a leopard or two. Another contributing factor to the easy sightings, are the hyenas. These scavengers are known to sit beneath the tree of a feasting leopard, hoping for scraps of food to fall. The guides know that hyenas betray a leopard’s hiding spot, and are sure to keep a look out for them. The lion prides throughout Zambia are large and easily seen on game drives.

Rare and Endangered Animals

The wild dog is present in Zambia and if your luck holds, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of this predator stalking its preferred prey – the impala. This predator is more likely to be seen early in the morning, or during late afternoon. Other rare animals include: the sitatunga antelope, the roan antelope, and three subspecies unique to Zambia – the scarcely seen Cookson’s wildebeest, and the more commonly seen Crawshay’s zebra and Thornicroft giraffe.

Frequently Seen Animals

Zambia has an abundance of wildlife. The most commonly seen animals are: elephant, buffalo, zebra, lechwe antelope, waterbuck, impala, greater kudu and of course, the large predators – lion, leopard and hyena. Thousands of hippo live in the rivers throughout Zambia, and have no qualms about sharing their watery home with massive crocodiles.

Best Time To See More Animals
Wildlife watching is at its best from July to September. By July, the dry weather will have made smaller water sources dry up, and animals will congregate at the larger waterholes and rivers. The vegetation has also thinned and wildlife will be easier to spot. It is best to visit before October, as this is when Zambia is at its hottest, and the humidity makes the heat all the more oppressive.

With the vast terrain, and range of activities – game drives, canoeing, walking safaris and night drives – birdwatching in Zambia will never be a dull experience. It is especially good in Kafue National Park, with its array of habitats and over 480 species in this park alone. The Verreaux’s eagle can be seen on the cliffs in Lower Zambezi, while pelicans and yellow-billed storks are present in South Luangwa from July to August. The southern carmine bee-eater is present in migratory flocks from August to September, while other migratory birds can be seen from November to April.

Endemic Birds

  • Chaplin’s Barbet

Near-Endemic Birds

  • Black-cheeked Lovebird

Endangered Birds

  • African White-backed Vulture
  • African Skimmer
  • Black-cheeked Lovebird
  • Black-winged Pratincole
  • Blue Swallow
  • Cape Vulture
  • Chestnut-banded Plover
  • Corncrake
  • Denham’s Bustard
  • Eurasian Curlew
  • Eurasian Peregrine Falcon
  • Great Snipe
  • Greater Spotted Eagle
  • Lappet-faced Vulture
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Lilian’s Lovebird
  • Madagascar Pond-heron
  • Olive-headed Weaver
  • Pallid Harrier
  • Papyrus Yellow Warbler
  • Shoebill
  • Slaty Egret
  • Taita Falcon
  • Wattled Crane
  • White-headed Vulture
  • Zambian Barbet

Special Birds

  • Babbling Starling
  • Blue Quail
  • African Finfoot
  • African Pitta
  • Anchieta’s Barbet
  • Anchieta’s Sunbird
  • Angola Lark
  • Bamboo Warbler
  • Bar-tailed Trogon
  • Bar-winged Weaver
  • Bertram's Weaver
  • Black-and-rufous Swallow
  • Black-chinned Quailfinch
  • Black-collared Bulbul
  • Black-necked Eremomela
  • Black-rumped Buttonquail
  • Blue Swallow
  • Bocage's Akalat
  • Böhm's Bee-eater
  • Böhm's Flycatcher
  • Chestnut-headed Flufftail
  • Collared Flycatcher
  • Corncrake
  • Fülleborn's Longclaw
  • Great Snipe
  • Grey-winged Robin-chat
  • Grimwood's Longclaw
  • Laura's Woodland Warbler
  • Locust Finch
  • Margaret’s Batis
  • Miombo Pied Barbet
  • Montane Marsh Widowbird
  • Mountain Yellow Warbler
  • Olive-flanked Robin-chat
  • Olive-tree Warbler
  • Papyrus Yellow Warbler
  • Pel’s Fishing-owl
  • Red-capped Crombec
  • Ross's Turaco
  • Rosy-throated Longclaw
  • Rufous-bellied Tit
  • Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird
  • Sharpe’s Akalat
  • Sharp-tailed Starling
  • Shelley's Sunbird
  • Shoebill
  • Slaty Eret
  • Souza's Shrike
  • Spotted Creeper
  • Spotted Thrush-babbler
  • Streaky-breasted Flufftail
  • Striped Crake
  • Thick-billed Cuckoo
  • Thrush Nightingale
  • Waller’s Starling
  • Wattled Crane
  • Western Banded Snake eagle
  • White-chested Alethe
  • White-spotted Flufftail
  • White-winged Swamp Warbler

Getting There and Safety

Your health and safety is important to us. Please take some time to read the following information to ensure your continued health.

Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) ( is the main airport in Zambia and is located 14km (9miles) from Lusaka, the capital. Once in Lusaka, you can reach the national parks by road or air. If a visit to Victoria Falls is part of your tour, you will likely fly to Livingston Airport (LVI), as it is the closest to the falls. If you are visiting as part of an organized safari, your tour operator will likely see to all transportation for the duration of your stay.


For the flights to Zambia, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you to Namibia and their various ticket costs.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Zambia.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Zambia.


It is recommended that you verify the following information with your local Zambia Embassy as the information below can change at any time.

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months is required by all foreign citizens.
  • The must be at least three empty pages in the passport.
  • Most foreign visitor either don’t need a visa, or can obtain one on arrival. For more information on visitors who do not require a visa see here. There is also a list for those who can obtain a visa on arrival.
  • You are require to have a yellow-fever vaccination certificate if you are arriving from a yellow-fever-infected country, such as Uganda.


The following information is a general guide and should in no way replace a professional medical opinion.


There is a high malaria risk throughout the country – which increases during the rainy season from November to April. Appropriate preventative measures are advised. Please speak to your doctor or travel clinic before travelling.


Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Namibia. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

Drinking Water
The tap water in Zambia is unsafe to drink. Bottled water is available in stores throughout the country, and is generally inexpensive.