Vast lakes, rich wetlands, breathtaking African sunsets and a custom of superb guiding contribute to Zambia’s immense appeal as a safari location.
Its most famous landmark, Victoria Falls, which it shares with Zimbabwe, attracts nature lovers and thrillseekers similar. Visit in March or April, when the falls are in full spate, and you’ll be greatly surprised by the rainbows, the roar of the fast-falling water and the dense, drenching clouds of spray. The Zambezi River, which is glassy-smooth above the falls and wild below, is ideal for canoe safaris and adrenaline rush activities such as white-water rafting and river surfing. There’s beautiful riverside lodges dotted along its upper banks.
Its safari lodges and camps, which range from simple fly-camps to luxurious lodges, make excellent use of natural materials and have an authentic atmosphere which puts you fully in contact together with your surroundings. Book a stay here, and you’ll nod off to the hooting of owls, the distant roar of lions and perhaps the loud munching sound of hippos grazing nearby. Some are seasonal bushcamps; situated beside rivers which floodwater in the rainy season, these are rebuilt afresh each year. Others are comfortable, permanent camps with safari tents that come fully equipped with their own private bathrooms.
Zambia is not as high-profile a safari location as Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, but it’s a favourite with those in the know. Full of inspiring landscapes and engaging wildlife, it’s an excellent choice for those who require to immerse themselves in a pristine wilderness.
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is of the best places in Africa to see nature in the raw. This is the home of the legendary African walking safari. By leaving the vehicle in camp and setting off on foot with an armed scout and an professional guide, your connection with the bush is intimate and fascinating. This is a superb way to appreciate the sounds, smells and details that are all simple to miss on a game drive. If you’re blessed, you may also have heart-racing ground-level views of massive game such as giraffes and massive felines.
The Zambian government has long recognised the economic importance of its wildernesses and is acutely aware of environmental concerns: one-third of the country is given over to national parks and game reserves. Explore these in the company of the nation’s professional but down-to-earth safari guides and you can spend your days relaxing beside a broad river while elephants drink their fill in the distance, watching eagles, storks and herons beside a shimmering lakeshore or heading out in a 4×4 to look for leopards after dark.
This is a lovely place to track down a number of Africa’s rarer wildlife spectacles, such as carmine bee-eaters nesting or migratory fruit bats flooding in from their feeding grounds. Zambia also offers plenty of opportunities to witness a traditional cultural festival. The calendar is punctuated by plenty of ancient, vibrant celebrations of music, drumming and dance, marking rites of passage and the changing seasons.
When To Go
The Zambian year is divided into the dry and wet seasons. The dry season (May to October) is a great time for rafting, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and trekking. You’re also able to see Victoria Falls’ striking rock formations due to the low water level. The rainy season (November to April) is better for birdwatching, and is when Victoria Falls is at its peak and most impressive. Flooding caused by the rains can make canoeing and rafting dangerous.
Also consider timing your visit to coincide with one of Zambia’s many festivals. Kuomboka, the most famous, commemorates the migration of the Lozi king from his dry season abode in Lealui to his wet season palace downriver in Limulunga. A fleet of barges accompanies the king to his destination, where a great feast is prepared. Kuomboka takes place around Easter.
Zambia Top Tips
- Trekking with the assistance of a knowledgeable and qualified guide will ensure your safety as well as enhance your experience.
- Distances between towns and attractions can be large, and transportation for independent travellers can sometimes be difficult to arrange.
- Anti-malarial medications are recommended for all visitors to Zambia.
- Tap water throughout the country is generally not drinkable.
- Rafting the Zambezi
- Trekking through the Luangwa Valley
- Birding at Lochinvar National Park
- Elephant-back safari through the Masuwe River Valley
- Canoeing the lower Zambezi
- Trekking in Lower Zambezi National Park
- Visit Victoria Falls