The average general height of the land gives Zambia a more pleasant climate than that of most tropical countries. Zambia has three seasons – cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to November, and warm and wet from December to April. Only in the Valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa is there excessive heat, particularly in October and, in the wet season, a high humidity.
In the warm wet season, frequent heavy showers and thunderstorms occur, followed by spells of bright sunshine. During the cool dry season, rare night frosts may occur in places sheltered from the wind. The countryside dries up gradually and grass fires, fanned by high winds are a feature of this time of the year. In depressions, frost can occur on cloudless nights. Temperatures rise high during the hot, dry season but new leaves appear on the trees before the start of the rains and new grass brightens the countryside. The main growing period of woody vegetation is between August and November.
We suggest to travel to Zambia for your African safari between May and August or September to November – and to try and avoid the wet hot season.
In General, annual rainfall is confined to the wet season (November to March) – which sometimes starts as early as October and finishes as early as March. Average temperatures are moderated by the height of the plateau. Maxima vary from 15oC to 27oC in the cool season with morning and evening temperatures as low as 6oC to 10oC – and even sometimes occasional frost on calm nights! During the hot season maximum temperatures may range from 27oC to 35oC.
Zambia’s climate makes possible the cultivation of a wide range of cash crops, namely maize, tobacco, cotton, rice, wheat and groundnuts. All kinds of vegetables can be grown, together with citrus fruit, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, avocados and even grapes. Lichis are also a high potential export crop. Tea and coffee are also grown successfully – the coffee produced in Zambia is of a very high quality and ever more popular with consumers in Southern Africa and the West.
Many of Zambia’s (approximate) 15 million people are involved in farming, and most still inhabit these rural areas, relying on subsistence farming to get by.
ZAMBIA – ITS PEOPLE AND ITS CULTURE
Before the colonial period, the region now known as Zambia was the home of a number of free states. Each of these had comprehensive economic links with each other and with the outside world along trade routes to the east and west coast of Africa. The main exports were copper, ivory and slaves in exchange for textiles, jewellery, salt and hardware.
With a population of less than 15 million, Zambia comprises an amazing 72 ethnic groups, most of which are bantu-speaking. About 90% of the population fall into 9 major ethnolinguistic groups: the Nyanja-Chewa; Bemba; Tonga; Tumbuka; Lunda; Luvale; Kaonde; Nkoya; and Lozi; the Tonga, the Luvale, the Chewa and the Kaonde. These can be sorted in 3 main tribes: the Lozi, the Bemba, the Ngoni.
With these 70+ different tribes in Zambia, there is wide cultural diversity. Fortunately, Zambia is known for showing very little tribal animosity. The existence of so many tribes has proved less of a political problem than in other African states.
Zambia’s contemporary culture is a blend of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions as most of the tribes now living in modern Zambia moved into the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. They settled, grew in numbers, and were in search of establishing new kingdoms, farming land and pastures. The mixing of ideas, marriages, tribal customs and rulers has always been a vital part of this social fabric.
Zambia is also home to a thriving Asian community, predominantly of Indian and Chinese origin, numbering around 100,000. They are mostly involved in trade, shops, construction and mining. A number of European expatriates have settled in Zambia as well – some have come for new opportunities in tourism, large scale (fish) farming and construction yet some decided to settle in Zambia after they had been cast off their farms in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
All this makes Zambia home to a vibrant mix of cultures, traditions and peoples, and one of the many reasons why Zambia is widely considered to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming nations in the world.
A perfect destination for a truly African experience of people, nature and wildlife.
To reach Zambia, it is best to aim to fly into Lusaka International airport which is the KENNETH KAUNDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Formally this is Lusaka’s International Airport as well as Zambia’s main airport. It is not to be confused with Lusaka City Airport, which is within the city for small aircraft only. At Kenneth Kaunda International Airport there is an International and Domestic Terminal (for onward connections to remote parks).
Visas can now be paid by credit card on arrival or in advance in your home country’s Embassy.
At the Domestic Terminal you will find Proflight Zambia which has regular flights inside Zambia to: Chipata, Jeki (Lower Zambezi), Kasama, Kasanka, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Mansa, Mfuwe, Mongu, Ndola.
SAFARI NATIONAL PARKS IN ZAMBIA
- South Luangwa National Park
- Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (AKA Victoria Falls)
- Lower Zambezi National Park
- North Luangwa National Park
All National Parks in Zambia are governed by the ZAWA – the Zambia Wildlife Authority. Rates for park entries are set annually. Game viewing by vehicle, walking safaris with licensed Wildlife guides, and Hunting safaris are all under strict national control.
- A special word on ‘birdwatching’ tours in Zambia – the Avifauna tourism.
By African standards, Zambia is well-known ornithologically. So far 740 species have been recognised here.To a large extent Zambia’s avifauna is that of the Central African Plateau. The vegetation is principally miombo woodland, bisected by grassy dambos along drainage lines. In some areas the miombo woodland is replaced by other woodland types, dry forest or thicket. Along watercourses there may be riparian forest, or in wetter areas in the north, wet evergreen forest.
Zambia also has low-lying valleys. These include the Luangwa and Middle Zambezi Valleys and the country between Lakes Tanganyika and Mweru. Most of these habitats have a distinctive set of birds although a number of species found in these areas are different from those occurring at higher altitudes.
A very small part of Zambia has montane altitudes. The avifauna here is quite different from that of the rest of the country and includes several species with very limited ranges.
To do a tailor made avifauna tour of Zambia, please let us know your season of travel so we can work out the best itinerary for you!