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The climate in Zambia is predominantly sub-tropical with two primary seasons – the wet summer season (from November to April) and the dry winter season (from May to October). The dry season can be spilt into the cool dry season from May to August and the hot dry season from September to November. We’ll shortly talk about the varying climates and temperatures in Zambia.

While cyclones don’t usually penetrate inland, Zambia still experiences unseasonal rainfall that result from the cyclones coming from the Indian Ocean. As you plan a trip to Zambia, ensure that there are no typhoon warnings. Now, let’s look at the seasons and climate in Zambia. It should help you plan your safari.

Seasons in Zambia

Depending on the altitude, Zambia’s climate can be tropical or subtropical, with a primarily dry winter season and hot and humid summer. To give you an idea of what to experience in Zambia, we are sharing Zambia’s two primary seasons with average temperatures for two altitude regions – the lowlands and the plateau.

SeasonsMonthsLowlands (Mpulungu )Plateau (Lusaka)
Max Average TemperaturesMin Average TemperaturesMax Average TemperaturesMin Average Temperatures
Summer (Wet Season)November to April29..67°C (85.41°F)19.83°C
28.5°C (83.30°F)17.5°C (63.50°F)
Winter (Dry Season)May to October30.5°C (86.90°F)16.67°C (62.01°F)27.83°C (82.10°F)11.83°C (53.30°F)

Data: World Climate Guide

Tropical Cyclones in Zambia

While Zambia doesn’t lie in the path of cyclones, its proximity to the sea puts it at risk of cyclones coming from the Indian Ocean. These cyclones could move inland, bringing with them heavy unseasonal rains.

In 1996, Cyclone Bonita was the first cyclone that caused unseasonal rainfall in Zambia and Zimbabwe. These cyclones are rare, but the recent Cyclone Ana has drastically affected the Southern African countries. In 2022, Cyclone Ana caused heavy rainfall in Zambia, resulting in flooding.

Climate in Zambia by Regions

    • The Lowlands

The lowlands are located in north Zambia below 3,300 feet (1,000 meters). It also includes regions on the shores of Lake Kariba in southern Zambia. Lake Kariba is the largest manmade lake by volume.

A small part of Lake Tanganyika flows through the far north corner of Zambia and this region experiences high temperatures, which persist even in the dry winter season. The temperatures are affected by the region’s proximity to the equator. Zambia’s Lake Tanganyika region also experiences the longest rainfall compared to the rest of the country, raining heavily in the summer, especially from December to March.

    • The Plateau

Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, is located in the south-central region above 4,100 feet (1,250 meters). Typically, the entire plateau experiences cold night-time temperatures during the dry season from May to August, which is exactly the opposite of the hot and dry season in the lowland.

During June and July, in Lusaka, the night-time temperatures drop below 9°C. The temperatures start rising by the end of the dry season, especially from September to November.

Lusaka experiences rainfall in the wet summer season from December to February. It rarely rains in the dry winter months.

Livingstone, located in southern Zambia, experiences intense heat from September to November. The temperatures can rise as high as 40°C in the wait for the rains, which bring relief from the high temperatures. In Livingstone, the night-time winter temperatures can drop to -2°C. Livingstone experiences the least rainfall and is considered one of the driest regions of Zambia.