Vast lakes, rich wetlands, breathtaking African sunsets and a tradition of superb guiding contribute to Zambia’s immense appeal as a safari destination.
Its most famous landmark, Victoria Falls, which it shares with Zimbabwe, attracts nature lovers and thrillseekers alike. Visit in March or April, when the falls are in full spate, and you’ll be bowled over 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 perfect for canoe safaris and adrenaline rush activities such as white-water rafting and river surfing. There are beautiful riverside lodges dotted along its upper banks.
Zambia is not as high-profile a safari destination as Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, but it’s a favourite with those in the know. Packed with inspiring landscapes and fascinating wildlife, it’s a very good choice for those who want to immerse themselves in a pristine wilderness.
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 touch with your surroundings. Book a stay here, and you’ll fall asleep 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 flood 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.
The Zambian government has long recognised the economic importance of its wildernesses and is acutely aware of environmental concerns: almost one-third of the country is given over to national parks and game reserves. Explore these in the company of the nation’s expert 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 4x4 to look for leopards after dark.
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is one of the very 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 expert guide, your connection with the bush is intimate and exciting. This is a superb way to appreciate the sounds, smells and details that are all too easy to miss on a game drive. If you’re lucky, you may also have heart-racing ground-level views of big game such as giraffes and big cats.
This is a good place to track down some 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 many opportunities to witness a traditional cultural festival. The calendar is punctuated by many ancient, colourful celebrations of music, drumming and dance, marking rites of passage and the changing seasons.