Zambia in May

May is arguably Zambia’s most beautiful month, with the vegetation at its lush best and Victoria Falls in full flow. By May, all of Zambia’s southern camps and lodges have reopened after the rains and across the south the dirt roads are drying, allowing self-drivers back into the parks. May is not yet prime time for wildlife viewing – the thick vegetation makes animals harder to spot. That said, Zambia’s guides are experts and guided game drives can still produce great sightings.

May is also an excellent month for discounts, with low or shoulder season rates at most camps and lodges. Late May, when the vegetation has thinned a little, is perfect for a walking safari in the Luangwa Valley. Expect lower rates and comfortable daytime temperatures, prolific wildlife and some of Zambia’s most qualified and enthusiastic guides. By now the summer rains have completely retreated and nights are cooler and far less humid. Hot, clear days may still touch 30°C, but closer to 25°C is more common in the south.

Although most of Zambia’s southern park roads are open by late May, dirt roads in the north are often still impassable. Both the Kafue River Valley and Liuwa Plain National Park can stay flooded into June, but conditions depend on the rains and vary year to year. As the floodwaters withdraw the rivers gradually clear and late May / early June marks the start of the best river fishing in Zambia.

In the magical Bangweulu Wetlands, the subsiding waters also start to make travel easier, and late May through June is the best time for shoebills. These goofy looking birds are well worth the trip, not just to see them, but for the stunning natural beauty of the wetlands themselves. At nearly 10000km2 they’re almost as large as the Okavango Delta and support a rich, varied flora and fauna, including the endemic black lechwe.

May to August are also the best months to spot the elusive leopards, nocturnal predators who generally only venture out once it’s cool. At hotter times of the year that can mean quite late in the evening, but in winter they prowl at twilight, inspecting their territory as they prepare to hunt. South Luangwa is particularly good for leopard and all the main camps and lodges offer guided evening and night drives. Sightings aren’t guaranteed, but this is the best way to see them, especially as Zambia is one of very few countries to allow spotlights on game vehicles.

Leopard spotting is particularly good in South Luangwa during May, credit: Africa Sky

Note that May is still high water at Victoria Falls and tours of the Devil’s Pool will definitely be closed. White-water rafting is usually limited to half days on the downstream rapids, so May is not a good time for either of these activities. You will, however, get to see the falls at near-peak flow and experience the full might of Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘The Smoke That Thunders.’


Our Recommended Itinerary

Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

day 1

  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

day 2

day 3

Lower Zambezi National Park

day 4

Lower Zambezi National Park

day 5

  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)
  • Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

day 6

day 7

Fly Home

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

Lake Kariba in Zambia

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made dam by volume, extending over 5000km2 along Zambia’s southern border. Completed in 1959, the dam provides hydro-electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and fish stocks – mainly tilapia, kapenta and the prized tigerfish – are also shared. Access to the…

Sioma Ngwezi and Ngonye Falls National Park

Covering 5,000km² of Kalahari woodland, Sioma Ngwezi is Zambia’s third-largest national park. Tucked away in the southwestern corner of the country, it’s bordered by the Kwando River to the west (which also forms the Zambia’s border with Angola) and Namibia to the south. Once heavily affected by cross-border poaching, Sioma Ngwezi is seeing something of a revival. This has been…

North and South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is arguably the best wildlife-viewing destination in Zambia. It has a number of excellent lodges and tented camps, with more budget accommodation available just outside the park at Mfuwe Bridge. This Mfuwe section of the park gets relatively busy and can feel a bit touristy at times. The best options are further north along the Luangwa River, where there’s a…

A luxury Zambia safari

Zambia has a number of superb luxury tented camps and lodges, located in some of the most remote, unspoiled wildlife areas in Africa. Private, all-inclusive luxury packages are available from between $600 and $1200 a day, which is good value compared with luxury safaris in Botswana and South Africa. At the lower end of this rather wide price range, the quality is still of a very high…

Family safari in Zambia

The last 10 years has seen a marked rise in family-friendly safaris in Zambia, with reduced prices for children and more activities geared towards kids and young adults. Not all lodges allow children, however, and some have age restrictions of eight or 12. Families in general, and especially those with very young children, can find excellent value and flexibility in Zambia’s growing…

Why go to Zambia

Although not entirely unique to Zambia, the country stands apart from others in the region in that the majority of its lodges and bush camps are owner-run. This tends to create a more personal experience – a homely kind of service that draws people back again and again. There are a number of luxury lodges to choose from, but also a good selection of smaller, eco-conscious operators.…

Popular Zambia Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Experience the paradise of Botswana and enjoy game viewing as well as exciting activities in Zambia ...

 | Luxurious South Africa and Zambia Honeymoon Safari (10 days)

South Africa and Zambia honeymoon

Explore the romantic Atlantic Ocean with it's multi-cultural heritage and a Big Five safari in the Sabi Sands, finally ending off at Victoria Falls from the Zambian side...

 | Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Fall under the spell of three prime attractions in Zimbabwe and Zambia – Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and the Mana Pools ...

 | City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

Majestic wildlife and the riches of Africa. ...

Boat at sunset | Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

One week safari to three Zambian national parks, including the flagship South Luangwa, and end in style with a visit to the remarkable Victoria Falls...

Romantic view | Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Combine three of Southern Africa's most loved destinations into one romantic getaway and you'll share the memories forever...

 | Best of Zambia Wilderness Safari (10 days)

Best of Zambia Wilderness Safari (10 days)

With some of the wildest and most remote game areas on the continent, and a remarkably low population in a massive country, Zambia has an aura of mystery waiting to be uncovered....

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

 | Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Why not visit more than one exciting African destination? See the Great Migration, Victoria Falls and wildlife-rich Hwange National Park...

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2