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Where to Go in ZambiaScroll

Where to Go in Zambia

ZAM St Zambia Victoria Falls Shutterstock Lukas Bischoff Photograph

Where to Go in Zambia

Zambia’s many parks are defined by the great rivers and basins that characterise the country and her topography. Each offers tremendous opportunities for exploration and the walking safari is particularly prevalent here. Among the most celebrated of its sights is the heart-stopping Victoria Falls. The Luangwa Valley and its idyllic, luscious parks offer some of the continent’s most remote and unique wilderness areas. The Lower Zambezi too is a maze of floodplains and oxbow lagoons, attracting countless game and stalking predators.

Kafue National Park

A vast 22,500 square kilometres make up Zambia’s largest and oldest national park, Kafue. Despite being established in the 1950’s and being just 2 hours from Livingstone, the park remains largely unexplored, and is less visited than parks such as South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. Protecting a wide variety of different environments, the park is roughly split north to south by the Kafue River, a major tributary of the Zambezi, which runs across rapids and calms before hitting the Itezhi Tezhi Dam. Kafue National Park is excellent for big cat sightings; lion, leopard, and cheetah can all be found here.

Where to Stay: Busanga Bushcamp - A remote camp providing access to game viewing on the Busanga plains. A luxuriously rustic camp consisting of 5 framed tents with ensuite bathrooms, private terraces overlooking the plains and hammocks to rest up in during the afternoon hours.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Being Zambia’s newest National Park, the Lower Zambezi remains relatively undeveloped, its beauty found in its wild state and wilderness demeanour. A beautiful floodplain runs alongside the river dotted with curved lagoons and sandbanks and peppered with acacias, tall leadwoods, ebonies and fig trees. The wildlife here is not as diverse as other areas of Zambia, however it is dense and there are always fantastic sightings, especially along the river. As most of the wildlife is attracted to its sweet waters, you will often be able to watch game wandering across the Zambezi channels. Herds of elephants up to 100 strong are attracted to the apple-ring fruits and buffalo and waterbuck hop from one island to the next. Antelope species are dominated by large herds of impala, and there are eland, zebra, kudu, wildebeest and duiker. The major predators include lion and leopard as well as spotted hyena, whilst wild dog sightings do occur but sightings are rare. There are 378 recorded bird species - listen for the cries of fish eagles, as well as wading birds, kingfishers, heron and bee-eater.

Where to Stay: Chiawa Camp - A beautiful camp nestled seamlessly in a grove of evergreen mahogany trees on the banks of the Zambizi, near the Chowe and Zambezi confluence. Owned and run by the Cummins family since it opened in 1989, the camp has a wonderfully personalised service and striking organisation.

Liuwa Plains National Park

Situated in the flood plains of western Zambia, in the upper Zambezi, the 3,660 square kilometre Liuwa Plains National Park is considered one of the most amazing wildlife parks in the whole of Africa. Relatively untouched, this pristine wilderness had no roads until recently and still remains just as wild and remote as ever, bordered by Luambimba and Luanginga Rivers. This land of abundance and diversity offers huge honey-coloured grassy plains which, in the rainy season make a stark and powerful contrast to the dramatic, electric blue of the sky. The occasional small tree islands pepper the landscape and you will sometimes come across clusters of raffia palms. In the dry season, thousands of Wildebeest gather in the north west, grazing their way southwards to await the rains. The predators here are great too, with prides of aggressive lions, cheeky hyenas, frequent cheetah sightings and even wild dog - evidence that the ecosystem is recovering. The bird life is equally prolific, with 334 recorded species, including many rare and migratory birds that are attracted by the flood plains. The vulnerable crowned crane and wattled crane are found in abundance, sometimes seen in flocks of several hundred and you may also see slaty egret and whiskered tern during the floods.

South Luangwa Valley National Park

World renowned for its walking safaris, the 3,475 mile square South Luangwa National Park is the most fertile place in the Luangwa Valley and one of the best spots in Africa for a safari. Featuring amazing wildlife and superb guiding, the park is a patchwork of different vegetation zones, from miombo forests and open dambos to mopane forests, both stunted and mature, as well as the lush riverine vegetation found lining the Luangwa River where you can spot giant mahogany trees, sausage trees and black African Ivory. There are also a few large open savannah plains, most notably in the heart of the Nsefu Sector where you will find natural salt springs, a favourite for crowned cranes. This rich diversity of habitats has led to a wonderful variety of wildlife, from outstanding birds to large game and predators. The best way to access the park is via light aircraft which is more relaxed than driving, and provides some spectacular welcoming views. You can see huge pods of hippos in South Luangwa National Park; they live in the river in the company of crocodiles.

Where to Stay: Chindeni Bushcamp - A luxury lodge and well furnished, despite this it keeps to a minimalistic and contemporary style unlike many lodges around Africa. The main lodge is a split level deck cleverly built around an old ebony tree, providing shade alongside a real bush feel. Overlooking Chayumba Lagoon the camp offers a lush and wide permanent water source for the local wildlife.

Livingstone Town & Victoria Falls

Livingstone Town has long been known as the best places to locate yourself if you are visiting Victoria Falls, despite its distance 10 kilometres away. Named after David Livingstone, it was established in 1905 and was the capital of North Rhodesia, until Lusaka was made the capital of Zambia in 1935. It went from a bustling city to a quiet town, but is still a hive of activity and a great place to organise your Victoria Falls adventure. There are so many activities available here, whether you are looking for something relaxing or an adrenaline rush. Brave yourself on the second highest bungee jump in the world, enjoy a champagne breakfast on Livingstone Island, right in the centre of the Falls, enjoy a cruise down the river or even go by kayak or canoe. Scenic flights are popular, and you can try your hand at white water rafting, river-boarding, skydiving and fishing.

Named by David Livingstone after the Queen of England at the time, Victoria is still known by locals in the Kololo language as Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning the smoke that thunders. During the annual flood season, the spray mist from the falls typically rises to 400 metres, a height that can even be doubled at times, something you can only appreciate on an aerial flight. The Falls are thought to be the largest in the world, despite not being the tallest or the widest. At 1,708 metres wide and a height varying from 80 to 108 metres, this expansive sheet of water, over a mile long, is technically the largest in the world. This sheet is broken by numerous islands, only two of which are large enough to break the falls during the floods, Boaruka Island and Livingstone Island, right in the centre, where David Livingstone first witnessed the Falls.

Where to Stay: Royal Chundu - Experience this African icon in an intimate setting, along a private section of the riverbank that’s home to this luxury lodge. From riverfront dining and viewing decks to fishing trips and private boat cruises, the Zambezi will loom large during your stay here, connecting you with the natural world while you enjoy all the amenities offered by award-winning accommodation.