Zambia is arguably home to some of Africa’s best National Parks, but no many know about them, which is great for those who do.
Famed for exceptional game-viewing, Zambia has a number of incredible National Parks. South Luangwa National Park in the east of the country is the best known for Zambia’s most prolific game viewing. The park follows the wide valley alongside the Luangwa River and is known as the Valley of Leopards.
Mature woodlands with beautiful tall trees, bushes and grasses give way to open country and then dense vegetation close to the river banks. This range of landscapes is the ideal hunting ground for a huge population of predators. South Luangwa has made a name for itself as the pioneering area for walking safaris. These are a number of outfits here well geared up for safaris where you can either take day walks between properties or fly camp each night.
Night drives often reveal the more elusive nocturnal creatures and you are never quite sure what eyes will shine back in the dark. Endemic to the valley are Crawshay’s zebra and Luangwa is also home to the wonderful Thornicroft’s giraffe with its striking contrastive colouration and white legs.
South Luangwa attracts a prolific birdlife too. Of particular note are the nests of the fabulous yellow-billed stork with its distinctive pink breeding plumage.
The Lower Zambezi region follows the mighty river downstream below the Zambian escarpment and a safari here combines beautifully with the South Luangwa. The river acts as the focal point for all activities, head out on boats to spot the plains game that comes to the river banks to drink and graze, see elephants crossing the river or go Tiger fishing. A real contrast to the dry heat away from the river.The river acts as a magnet for the wildlife of the area, especially in the dry season./p>
Home to hundreds of hippos and crocodiles, canoeing trips are always exciting and as you drift downstream, birds flit low across the water. This is a paradise with stunning wildlife to be seen in every direction.
The game-viewing is extraordinary – there are few places where you can see buffalo and elephant crossing rivers and with over 350 recorded bird species in the Lower Zambezi National Park – there is always something to see.
The Victoria Falls are without doubt one of the world’s most remarkable sights. They occur where the enormous Zambezi (over a mile wide at this stage) plummets 350 feet into a steep gorge sending up swirls of spray to a background of thunderous noise. With an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water passing over the falls every minute, it is the largest curtain of water in the world.
The Falls are actually split into a number of separate waterfalls owing to the small islands dotted along the top. From west to east, they are called the Devil’s Cataract, the Main Falls, the Horseshoe Falls, the Rainbow Falls and the Eastern Cataract.
The higher water levels towards the end of the rainy season (around May) mean that the spray coming off the Falls is even greater than usual. The result is a dense, swirling mist that soaks everyone and everything beneath it. But once you catch your first glimpse of the Falls, this unceremonious dousing will be the last thing on your mind!
Remote, untrammelled wilderness with exceptional wildlife, Kafue National Park is the second largest in Africa. This relatively unvisited area sits at the heart of the convergence of five countries making it an important wildlife corridor.
There are only a handful of camps in Kafue, centred on the prolific Busanga Plains area. This is a game rich region with open savannah and large swamps, home to large herds of buffalo and attendant lions. Busanga is remarkable for its diversity of antelope species which in turn are predated on by the lions. A common hunting tactic employed is for the lions to stalk their prey using the dry drainage luggas. Ambushing the antelope at close range with deadly efficiency.
For an exclusive, back to wilderness feel, safaris in Kafue are hard to beat.
There is so much you can do in Zambia and we are full of ideas to suit you. Here are some of our favourites.
Zambia is home to the walking safari. It was pioneered here, and the program has evolved ever since. Strict 3 year long guiding courses have guaranteed consistently high standards here for over 50 years. This combined with the great wildlife and top camps run by bush enthusiasts make Zambian walking safaris the best in Africa.
The type of walking safari you do can vary greatly, you can either do an outdoor over night experience where you walk through the bush for a couple of days at a time, or you can do a a morning activity where you can have an active morning out in the bush before returning to camp for a well deserved lunch. Almost every camp has trained walking guides who are keen to show you safari from a completely different perspective.
If you like the idea of walking, then a safari in Zambia is right for you. It’s such a lovely activity to do on safari as it has a completely different feel to any other activity. There are also camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park and Kafue National Park that offer fantastic walking safaris should you wish to do this in a mixture of locations.
Zambian’s are very proud of the heritage of the safari experience they offer, which you will see and hear why when on safari here.
Zambia took a forward thinking approach to safari back in the 1900’s – arguably without knowing about it at the time. As in the early 1900’s African safaris were advertised as a colonial hunting experience and Zambia was one of the few countries which quickly moved away from this model.
We have African legends (and Zambian safari pioneers) Norman Carr and Robin Pope – who own a selection of camps that we fondly use – to thank for this. Robin and Norman took the initiative to promote looking and photographing animals, rather than killing them, which amazingly at the time seemed odd. Furthermore, they saw the local people, not as a hindrance, but as part of the experience – so capitalized on this and went on to involve them in wildlife management, guiding and other forms of sustainability.
Light-years ahead of its time, it was 50 years later before conservationists took action in Africa. This pioneering and innovative approach was the foundation of safaris in Zambia, and now the modern day conservation policy in Africa.
Game viewing by canoe is a wonderfully refreshing way to see the wildlife. It makes such a nice change from driving around in vehicles. It’s a very natural way to get up close to the animals without disturbing them.
This way you can explore the Zambezi, keeping an eye out for hippos, crocodile and an impressive array of birds as you go. It may sound a little daunting at first, but trust us when we say it something you’ll cherish forever. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Timing is everything, and when you choose to visit will play a huge part in the experience you have. Here’s some advice to help.
Victoria Falls throws up billows of spray, which can be seen from 19 miles away. Zambia is slightly larger than Texas and its nearest ocean is 600 miles away.
The capital is Lusaka and even though the city was originally planned for 200,000 people it is now home to over 1,500,000 people.
The phone directory for the entire country is still less than an inch thick.
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