Zambia is one of the undiscovered jewels of Africa. The country's warm, welcoming people, and uncrowded and remote game reserves, make Zambia at top safari destination. Apart from the world-famous Victoria Falls it has a wealth of lesser-known, pristine national parks which are home to a huge variety of wildlife.
- Superb views of Victoria Falls during high water season (January to July)
- Access to Devil’s Pool and Livingstone Island on the edge of the falls (around August to January)
- Less crowded safaris in remote game parks
- Excellent walking safaris
- Lower Zambezi National Park
- South Luangwa National Park, famous for regular leopard sightings
- The famous tree-climbing lions of Kafue National Park
- Experiencing untamed African wilderness in beautiful areas
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Rather odd-shaped, with a spur of the Democratic Republic of Congo almost slicing it in half, it borders seven other countries: Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
On safari in Zambia
With numerous wild and untamed game-rich reserves and some of Africa’s best-trained guides at hand, you’ll have one of the most enriching safari experiences on the continent. Apart from enjoying day and night drives (permitted in all national parks), you’ll be able to enjoy excellent guided walking safaris. In those areas on rivers and lakes, you can often also enjoy game viewing by boat or canoe.
Most safari accommodation is in the form of small, intimate camps (often with just a few rooms/tents), superbly run by enthusiastic hosts who go out of their way to share their hospitality and extensive knowledge with you. Standards are high and you can expect a comfortable, luxurious stay.
South Luangwa National Park
Probably the best known and most popular park, South Luangwa offers excellent game viewing day and night in open safari vehicles, and superb walking safaris. The small and personal bush camps are a treat, but many are only open during the dry season – May to mid-November.
Famous for its leopards, game is plentiful and you’ll see endemic species like the Crawshay’s zebra, Thornicroft’s giraffe and herds of puku (antelope), as well as lion, warthog, baboon, waterbuck and plenty of elephants. However, you won’t find cheetah or rhino here. The flood plains of the Luangwa river offer fantastic scenery and a quintessential African safari experience.
Lower Zambezi National Park
A wild, scenic and relatively undeveloped national park, Lower Zambezi is tops for exploring by canoe along the intricate waterways of southern Africa’s greatest river. The birding is extraordinary with some 378 species recorded. You can get really close to elephant, zebra, buffalo and other animals as they stop to drink as you paddle past. On evening game drives, you’ll have an excellent chance of spotting leopard. Wild dog are also frequently seen. The game viewing here is good but not as varied and plentiful as in Mana Pools, across the river on the Zimbabwe side.
Zambia probably has some of the most unusual and inviting bush lodges, where you’ll find top-notch hospitality and expert, enthusiastic guides for your game drives, bush walks and canoe safaris. It’s a particularly wild and beautiful area, voted by a famous travel writer as somewhere he’d “comfortably place among [his] ten favourite reserves anywhere in Africa”.
Kafue National Park
This is Zambia’s oldest and largest park. It’s recently come back onto the safari radar after suffering years of neglect. However, today its plains teem with an incredible variety of wildlife and you’re guaranteed a wild and personal safari experience. It’s also one of the few places where you’ll find cheetah.
The better-known Busanga Plains at the northern end are lush and fertile with huge grazing buffalo herds, red lechwe, puku, other antelope species and plains game. Of course, the predators follow these herds and you’re very likely to see lion (famous here for their tree-climbing habits), cheetah, leopard and wild dog.
The bush camps are rustic, small and intimate, with excellent accommodation, superb food and enthusiastic guides who will go out of their way to make your stay highly memorable.
North Luangwa National Park
Most famous for its walking safaris, this park is more remote than its southern sister. It’s a great destination for dedicated safari enthusiasts who enjoy getting out into the untamed African bush. It only has a few small (sleeps six) but excellent bush camps.
The escarpment has different terrain to South Luangwa which attracts slightly different game. Here you may see the more unusual species like sable antelope, bush pig, blue monkey, Cookson’s wildebeest and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. Lion and large buffalo herds are also numerous and the birding is superb.
Mosi oa Tunya National Park
Known as the “smoke that thunders” by the locals, the park’s main attraction (apart from probably the only rhino in Zambia) has to be the majestic Victoria Falls. The nearby town of Livingstone (10km from the falls) is indisputably the tourist capital and adventure hub of Zambia. The park itself is small and offers below-average game viewing, but the lodges situated inside this national park enjoy frequent visits by elephant, hippo, warthog and various antelope species.
If you have the time, Victoria Falls is certainly worth seeing from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides to get different perspectives on this natural wonder. They’re at their best during the early and late high-water season. During April and May when the water levels are at their highest and the falls truly thunder, the spray is often so thick that you cannot even see the actual falls. During the high water months you’ll be drenched within minutes by the refreshing spray from the falls, and visibility comes and goes with the wind. It is an incredible experience, though. Others recommend visiting from July to September when the water levels are lower and you can visit Livingstone Island and swim in Devil’s Pool at the lip of the falls. In October and November, the falls are no more than a dry rock wall on the Zambian side.
A host of excellent lodges, safari lodges, hotels and accommodation near Victoria Falls can be found along the shores of the Zambezi, much closer to the falls than you’ll find on the Zimbabwean side. The standards are very high, with expert guides and incredible staff. There’s a wide range of activities from gentle canoeing to white-water rafting, micro-light and helicopter flights over the falls, game-viewing sunset cruises aboard gracious riverboats and horse-back safaris, to name but a few.
Best Time to Visit
High season in Zambia is from May to early October. This is the dry period when all the safari camps are open. Days are warm but evenings can be cool.
High-lying and eastern areas are usually wetter in the rainy season which extends from December to March. It’s also known as the “emerald season”, and a time when many camps close and smaller, dirt roads make going very tough indeed, but it’s a popular time for birders and photographers, especially in Kafue.
April and May is generally drier although the landscape is still lush and green. It’s also cooler in the evenings. The best time for game viewing is from June to October.
Getting Around in Zambia
With huge distances between the national parks, it’s best to fly between these destinations in a light aircraft – either scheduled or chartered. Sometimes, you’ll be transferred between camps by 4x4 safari vehicles and in some areas it’s possible to walk between camps. Within a specific area like Livingstone, we can arrange affordable ground transportation to and from the airport as well as to all your activities.
Discover Zambia for Yourself
Please speak to us about the type of safari you’d enjoy, the places you’d like to visit, your time and your budget, and we’ll gladly put together a detailed, dream itinerary for you, complete with lodge recommendations and transfers – no obligation.
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