Zambia, while lesser known than Botswana is one of our favourite safari destinations particularly for the second time visitor to Africa. The true remoteness of safari lodges and walking trails ensures a very personal and exclusive experience. The beautiful plains of South Luangwa National Park are excellent for walking safaris, bird watching and fishing are the highlights in the Kafue National Park and cruising the Lower Zambezi River provides amazing up close viewing of hippo, elephant and crocodile in abundance. Of course, Zambia also boasts the magnificent Victoria Falls which should not be missed on any African itinerary!
Bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe Victoria Falls is known as the ‘smoke that thunders’ and a spectacular sight not to be missed! Wonder the rainforest pathways to many viewpoints of one of the largest waterfalls in the world.
Kafue National Park
One of the largest national parks in Africa, Kafue is only a two hour dive from Livingstone. Highlights of this wild and remote park includes some of the best lion viewing in Africa along with bird watching and fishing.
Busanga Plains The Northern section of the Kafue National Park is the astounding Basunga Plains. Like the famous Serengeti, the annual floods bring thousands of animals including zebra, atelope, wildebeest and buffalo scatter the landscapes, followed by the hungry predators. The sable antelope is often spotted in this part of Kafue and there is also a great chance of seeing cheetahs in action on the grassy plains.
South Luangwa National Park
One of the finest wildlife sanctuary’s in Africa, South Luangwa offers a pristine, unspoilt safari experience. There is an abundance of wildlife and unspoiled vegetation suited to those wishing to experience a walking safari.
Lower Zambezi A stunning wildlife area famous for its concentrations of big game and prolific birdlife. Experiences include water based activities including canoeing, boating and fishing. Open game vehicle game drives and walking are also offered.
The dry season is the most common time to visit Zambia, between April and October, with game concentrations at their peak in September and October. During the rainy season, the climate is wet and hot therefore some areas of Zambia are inaccessible during December – March.
Sitting in an open-sided game viewing vehicle at night as a pride of 15 lionesses and young cubs passed by within touching distance on their way to hunt is a safari moment I will never forget. The location was Zambia’s 9,050 square kilometre South Luangwa National Park, a region of spectacular wildlife and dramatic topography with its open alluvial plains and mature woodlands bordered to the south by the meandering Luangwa River. The river, with its tributaries and ox bow lagoons, is the lifeblood of the park.
The game viewing on offer will more than satisfy most safari afficionados with buffalo, zebra, numerous antelope species, giraffe, large herds of elephant and seemingly so many hippos that you could use them as stepping-stones to cross the river. Major predators include lion, leopard, spotted hyena and wild dog and the region is also rich in birdlife with over 450 species having been recorded.
As well as morning and evening game drives South Luangwa is also famous for walking safaris of up to 10 days. Walking through big game country with an expert naturalist and accompanied by an armed game scout is an exciting experience once you overcome your initial fears, the area is remote and wild, the terrain and habitats varied, game is in abundance and sleeping in walk-in mobile tents brings you as close as you could wish to nature.
Combine Zambia’s reputation for high quality guiding with some of the densest wildlife concentrations in Africa and South Luangwa is a safari destination not to be missed.
Tony O’Callaghan – Travel Designer
Currency Kwacha. It is best to bring US dollars cash to exchange while in Zambia.
Language There are over 73 dialects spoken in Zambia, but the official language is English.
Why we love it Zambia is one of Africa’s most wonderful safari destinations for those who want to experience the real wilderness. Geared toward the high end safari goer, there are a good selection of five star plus lodges and camps that are beautifully built to work in with the stunning landscapes and create as little ‘footprint’ as possible. Days are designed around twice daily game drives, and Zambia’s speciality – walking safaris, and evenings could see you enjoying sundowners near a waterhole while watching the African sun set behind a herd of elephants drinking. Distances are covered by light aircraft, the only way to maximise your time spent at different national parks such as: South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park (the size of Wales), Lochinvar (excellent for bird watching) and the Lower Zambezi.
Weather There are only two distinct seasons in Zambia: the wet and the dry. The wet season from December to March brings amazing birdlife, rain and abundant flora while the dry season from April to November offers the very best chances of excellent wildlife viewing. For Victoria Falls, April and May see the highest volume of water which is spectacular but the spray sometimes does not allow for the best photographs. October and November, the falls are at their lowest water levels and the Zambian side could be virtually dry so it would be recommended to go across to the Zimbabwe side if you are visiting at this time.
Social customs & quirks Zambia has over 73 different tribes, with a population of just about 10 million people, most of whom live in and around the urban centres. Zambians are very friendly and relaxed people, however in the big cities where unemployment is a problem there is the threat of local pick pockets. There is no predominant ethnic culture and Zambians are fast becoming westernised. There is however, an attempt to maintain traditional customs with the revival of tribal ceremonies amongst the various tribes in different parts of the country. If any of these are taking place during your visit, they’re well worth attending. Zambia’s contemporary culture is a blend of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions of more than 70 ethnically diverse people. Quiet beauty, bustle, bounding life or brimming joy characterise many aspects of music and dance in Zambia. Emphasis varies from breathless acrobatic spectacle amid propulsive drumming to fine subtleties of sound and movement.
Many traditional instruments are still played throughout the country, although the desire for western instruments increases. The influence of the west and the rest of Africa is well entrenched in music tastes of the current generation in Zambia. In the big towns, night clubs and shebeens belt the sounds of Kwela and rumba and many local bands play to the increasingly westernised youth. A large proportion of handiwork made in Zambia is basketry and pottery made by both men and women. The many forms and raw materials used reflect the environment in which they are madeand the pieces are decorated with symbolic designs using traditional dyes made from different coloured soils, roots, bark and leaves. Many of the tribal customs are only still practised in the rural areas as the urbanised youth aspire to Western behaviour. A greeting is always exchanged before any conversation. If a person approaches you, you should always offer the first greeting. A man should withhold his hand in greeting until the woman offers hers. Gifts are often offered to a visitor as a sign of honour, friendship or gratitude. One should never refuse a gift and accept it with both hands at the same time expressing thanks.
Health* Please contact your General Practitioner for advice regarding the recommended vaccination programme for travellers to this region. The only compulsory health requirement is a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if coming from, or travelling through, an infected area. Malaria precautions should be taken.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
We cannot speak highly enough of the experience we had at the hands of World Journeys and their agents. All 5 safari park experiences were different, and well exceeded our expectations. The all-inclusive package was really great. Wine at all venues was very free-flowing, and it was good not to be paying for items as we went. All travel went without a hitch, and at all times we felt very safe in Africa. The itinerary was put together by others and we wouldn't have changed it. So many fantastic memories.