Written by
Jody van Merode

Published on: July 25th, 2017

Last modified: July 27th, 2023

The best time to visit Zimbabwe is the dry season between July and October. The low rainfall at this time of year means vegetation is sparse and wildlife congregates at the limited water sources. These conditions are perfect for incredible safaris and wildlife viewing across Mana Pools, Hwange and Malilangwe.

The best time to visit Zimbabwe to experience the Victoria Falls in all their glory is between April and June. The summer rains swell the Zambezi River, causing dramatic volumes of water to cascade over the Falls. However, it’s possible to enjoy many activities such as helicopter rides, guided walks and sunset cruises all through the year.

Zimbabwe Weather Guide

 

In terms of safari, Zimbabwe is generally split into the dry and rainy season. However, with Victoria Falls and the shoulder seasons to consider too – there’s plenty of highlights, many affected by the climate, to experience throughout the year.

Jan
26-31°C
Feb
25-31°C
Mar
26-32°C
Apr
25-32°C
May
23-31°C
Jun
21-29°C
Jul
21-29°C
Aug
24-31°C
Sep
25-27°C
Oct
29-37°C
Nov
27-33°C
Dec
26-32°C
Avg. Temperature
26-31°C

January is part of the rainy season where temperatures are warm and the country is green and lush. There’s not that many visitors so January can be a good month to head out on safari away from crowds, so long as you’re prepared for some wet conditions.

Avg. Temperature
25-31°C

February is another wet month in Zimbabwe and like the other rainy months, it can feel hot in the midday heat. The rainy season months all tend to see heavy rainfall in the afternoons and the rest of the day is clear and sunny.

Avg. Temperature
26-32°C

The rains are starting to dry up a little in March, although this is still considered a rainy season month. The rains have swelled the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls are ramping up to become spectacular as the water levels rise.

Avg. Temperature
25-32°C

April usually marks the end of the rainy season. The temperatures are still warm and the land is green and lush. This is a wonderful time to visit Victoria Falls as the waterfalls are at their most spectacular after the summer rains. Crashing waters cause mist and spray meaning you have the best chances of seeing rainbows at this time of year.

Avg. Temperature
23-31°C

May is one of the best months to witness Victoria Falls and combine this with good safari conditions too. Mana Pools will close for the rainy season to protect the land and so now, with this massive park open to explore it’s a great time to visit before the crowds arrive.

Avg. Temperature
21-29°C

By June the winter is underway and nightimes and early mornings will feel chilly. The weather is now dry and the man-made watering holes in Hwange start pumping water to make sure the massive elephant herds have enough to drink. June is still just outside the peak busy season so it’s a great time to visit to go on safari.

Avg. Temperature
21-29°C

Another wonderful month for safari in Zimbabwe. Dry conditions are great for Rhino tracking on foot in Matobo Hills and massive herds of elephants can be found at the limited water-sources in Hwange National Park.

Avg. Temperature
24-31°C

Yet more great wildlife viewing conditions with hot daytime temperatures and cool nights. August is one of the peak months though so it's best to opt for camps in private reserves and concessions if you want to avoid the crowds. This is a great month to go white water rafting on the Zambezi as the water levels are low, exposing the rocks and rapids.

Avg. Temperature
25-27°C

Very similar to August in terms of conditions although the temperatures are still climbing. September is also slightly less popular in terms of visitors so the national parks can feel quieter. September does mark an important event for Hwange National Park; the annual game count. The Hwange rangers spend time at the waterholes and count the number of animals passing through the park.

Avg. Temperature
29-37°C

In terms of game viewing, October is a great month. It’s extremely dry now so expect massive concentrations of wildlife at the limited water sources. However, October is also one of the hottest months with temperatures sometimes climbing into the 40°Cs. Safari activities are now very much limited to the early mornings and evenings as it's simply too hot to move around in the midday heat and the wildlife hides in any shade it can find.

Avg. Temperature
27-33°C

The rainy season should typically start in November coming as a tremendously welcome relief for wildlife and the parched land. However, November can be hard to predict. Sometimes the rains arrive late, if this happens November can be unbearably hot and dry. If the rain arrives in earnest, this can be a very wet month. November marks the start of the bird watching season, with hundreds of different resident and migratory bird species to spot.

Avg. Temperature
26-32°C

December falls into the rainy season which means it's great for birdwatching and although safari is possible, wildlife can be tricky to spot and some tracks will become waterlogged, making it difficult to move around.

Month-by-month climate guide for Zimbabwe

 

So, where should you go in Zimbabwe, and when? There are many safari adventures to be had and there’s also the epic Victoria Falls, fed by the Zambezi river, for a range of exciting activities. Quite often, when hoping to experience the natural world, seasonality is something to bear in mind when choosing the best time to visit.

To help you decide we’ve outlined a month by month climate guide, focused on the best regions each month and what you can do there.

Zimbabwe from November to February

November to February will see plenty of rainfall. Occasionally the rains arrive late and the start of November can be very hot and dry, giving way to huge downpours later in the month.

These months are great for birdwatching and safaris away from the crowds. It’s worth noting though that safaris can be tough at this time; wildlife can be tricky to spot and some tracks will become waterlogged, making it difficult to move around. Temperatures stay around the mid to late 20°C’s (68°F), feeling warm.

Zimbabwe in March

The conditions are starting to dry up in March. The rains have swelled the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls is ramping up to become spectacular as the water levels rise. Expect plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 25°C.

Zimbabwe in April and May

May is one of the best months to combine Victoria Falls at their most dramatic, and experience good safari conditions too. Typically the rain starts to cease in May, although some showers are still possible, and temperatures are not too hot at  23°C (73°F).

The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe in June

By June, winter is underway and nightimes and early mornings will feel very chilly. The weather is now dry and the man-made watering holes in Hwange National Park must now be pumped full of water to make sure the massive elephant herds have enough to drink. June is still just outside the peak busy season so it’s a great time to visit to go on safari. 

Zimbabwe in July

July is a wonderful month for safari in Zimbabwe. Dry conditions are great for safari activities. July is truly a winter month with temperatures at around 21°C  (70°F). Early morning game drives will feel very chilly and you should pack warm layers if you’re travelling in these winter months.

Zimbabwe in August

Yet more great wildlife viewing conditions with hot, clear, sunny days and cool nights. It’s one of the peak seasons though so it’s best to opt for camps in private reserves and concessions, away from the crowds in the national parks. 

Zimbabwe in September

Very similar to August in terms of conditions although the temperatures are still climbing. September is also slightly less popular in terms of visitors so things start to feel quieter in the national parks. 

Tourists observe a wild elephant in Zimbabwe's Mana Pools as it reaches for leaves in the background

Zimbabwe in October

In terms of game viewing, October is a great month. It’s extremely dry now so expect massive concentrations of wildlife at the limited water sources. However, October is also one of the hottest months with temperatures climbing into the 40°Cs. 

What is the hottest season in Zimbabwe?

 

The hottest season in Zimbabwe runs from September to December. October is typically the hottest month in Zimbabwe with temperatures sometimes climbing into the 40°Cs (104°F). In September and October, before the rains arrive, wildlife viewing can be excellent around the limited water sources in the national parks and reserves. 

Safari activities at this time are limited to the early mornings and evenings, when temperatures are cooler.  In these very hot months t’s simply too uncomfortable to move around in the midday heat and the wildlife hides in any shade it can find.

When is the rainy season in Zimbabwe?

 

November to March is the rainy season in Zimbabwe. This period is also summer in Zimbabwe so expect warm temperatures staying around the mid to high 20°C’s (68°F). The rains tend to fall in the afternoon, sometimes with intense thunderstorms and the rest of the day can still see plenty of sunshine. 

The rainy season brings lush green vegetation to the landscapes which means it can be harder to spot game such as lions, wild dogs, buffaloes and elephants. Safari jeeps can struggle on the waterlogged ground and some national parks will close to protect the land for the wet season. Less people travel at this time of year so exclusive safaris away from the crowds are possible and it’s also a great season for bird watching.

Where to Stay in Zimbabwe

Some of Jacada's Recommended Luxury Camps and Lodges

Best Things to Do in Zimbabwe by Season

July and August

Go on walking safaris

The best time to visit Zimbabwe to go on walking safaris is between July and August. These are the driest months so there is very little vegetation, making it perfect for tracking animals on foot through Hwange and Mana Pools National Parks.

Being able to see the game clearly, over long distances, means the expert guides are able to plot the best walking routes. This results in some potentially close encounters with large game such as elephants during this time of year.

May and June

Combine Victoria Falls and a safari

The best time to visit Zimbabwe to combine Victoria Falls and a safari is May and June. During these months the Falls are spectacular due to the increased water levels on the Zambezi river and conditions on safari are dry and clear.

The falls themselves are at their most spectacular from April, however for the perfect safari combination it’s best to wait until May for the best chance of good conditions in the national parks and reserves. June it’s perfect for excellent wildlife viewing; dry land, high densities of wildlife at watering holes and clear, sunny days.

August - December

Go white water rafting

The best time to visit Zimbabwe for white water rafting is August until December. The water levels are at their lowest at this time so rocks and rapids become exposed, making for some seriously exciting rafting. The months of August to October also coincide with some great safari conditions too.

Be sure to stay at Matetsi for a luxurious place to unwind after your excitement on the river. Enjoy a serene hideaway on the riverbank where secluded lodges with private plunge pools are the perfect place to relax.

July

Go on rhino tracking adventures

The best time to visit Zimbabwe for Rhino tracking in Matobo Hills is July, when the vegetation is sparse and rangers spot rhinos easily, taking you close to the mighty creatures. when conditions are very dry. Arguably Zimbabwe’s most historically interesting park, it lends itself to walking safaris due to its lack of lions or elephants.

October - March

Go birdwatching

The best time to visit Zimbabwe for birdwatching is from October to March. There’s over 650 different resident and migratory bird species to spot from the majestic goliath herons to the tiny, colourful Shelley's sunbird. This is also the rainy season so it's a great time to travel to skip the crowds.

Some of the key places to go bird watching are Hwange National Park in the south where the conditions are often the driest, even in the wet season. Around Victoria Falls National Park there are small but intense areas of rainforest which are a haven for birdlife.

October

See elephant herds in Hwange National Park

The best time to visit Zimbabwe to see huge elephant herds in Hwange National Park is in October. The park is home to over 20,000 elephants, Africa’s largest population, with huge numbers congregating at the very limited watercourses in the driest month of October.

It’s not just elephants here; large prides of lions and buffalo are common here and even the allusive leopards make a regular appearance in Hwange. Mana Pools National Game Park can also yield excellent elephant sightings in October. Along with large herds of elephants you can expect to see hippos, Nile crocodiles and predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and spotted hyenas.

What is the best time to visit Botswana and Zimbabwe?

 

The best time to visit Botswana and Zimbabwe for an ultimate safari experience is between May to September. The dry winter season provides optimum wildlife viewing conditions across the Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Mana Pools and Hwange. Victoria Falls are particularly impressive in May and June and combine wonderfully with a safari adventure.   

Whatever you want from your trip to Zimbabwe, our team of expert travel designers are ready to help.