Zambia things to see and do

Things to see and do

Bangweulu Swamps

The marshy shores of Lake Bangweulu, north of Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia, are an important habitat for shoebills, a large, unusual-looking stork which catches fish by lunging with its huge bill at lightning speed. The best months to see them are May and June.

Lake Kariba

Relax for a week on a luxurious houseboat on the world’s largest reservoir. The Zambian side of the lake is considerably quieter than the Zimbabwean side, where there are hundreds of houseboats and other craft. You can drift along the banks, explore the islands or just admire the magnificent sunsets, glass in hand.

Copperbelt Museum

The city of Ndola, north of Lusaka, is an important commercial centre and the gateway to Zambia’s prime mineral producing region. Its Copperbelt Museum has a small but interesting collection of minerals, crafts and cultural artefacts.

Kasanka National Park

This fascinating pocket of woodland is a conservation zone that’s in recovery from a long period of intense hunting and poaching which eliminated most of its larger wildlife species. These days, it’s best known for antelopes, birds and bats. Every year, a massive population of straw-coloured fruit bats migrates to a stand of trees in the park which they use as a roost throughout October. The sky fills with bats each evening when they head out each to feed, returning again at dawn.

Livingstone

Get adventurous in the town of Livingstone, Zambia’s centre for adrenaline sports. When the Victoria Falls are in full spate, in March and April, there’s an extra buzz of energy in the air. Thrillseekers can bungee jump off the 111m (364ft) bridge linking Zambia and Zimbabwe across the River Zambezi, with the roar of the falls in their ears. Or, you can abseil into the gorge, or zipline or gorge-swing across it. There are also plenty of activities in the river itself.

Lochinvar National Park

Go birdwatching in the exceptionally diverse Lochinvar National Park, Zambia’s richest wetland area, which lies on the southern edge of the Kafue Flats. This wide floodplain is home to staggeringly large populations of white pelicans, wattled cranes and storks. Lechwe, Zambia’s marshland-loving antelopes, can also be seen here. The sightings change with each season but the park is easiest to access between July and November.

Lusaka

See the attractions in the capital, Lusaka, including the Kabwata Cultural Village where you’ll find carvers at work, indigenous arts and crafts for sale, and entertainment from traditional dancers. The Munda Wanga Botanical Gardens and Zoo is home to elephants, lions and primate, and the Lusaka National Museum covers ethnography, witchcraft, history and contemporary art.

North Luangwa National Park

North Luangwa is not as visited as South Luangwa, with few roads or camps and and even more of a wilderness feel. Explore this vast area on foot with an expert guide, following lion, elephant or buffalo tracks. There’s also excellent birdwatching on offer, with over 350 species.

South Luangwa National Park

The protected woodlands and grasslands beside the Luangwa River form one of southern Africa’s best game-viewing regions. Spend a few days here and you’d be very unlucky not to see elephants, hippos, lions and leopards, along with a host of antelopes, warthogs, baboons and birds. Safaris here have an authentic, conservation-conscious feel, with excellent lodges manned by highly trained and motivated guides. South Luangwa is considered the birthplace of the walking safari – a thrilling way to experience the bush – and is also excellent for night drives.

Sumbu National Park

In the far north of Zambia, this park is well off the beaten track. Enjoy the sandy shorelines of Lake Tanganyika, where there are three all-year beach resorts: Kasaba, Ndole and Nkamba bays. Antelopes, zebras and warthog regularly trot along the sands and the park's spectacular sunsets are not to be missed.

Upper Zambezi River

A couple of kilometres above the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi is over 1km (0.6 miles) wide and fast-moving but glassy, making this an appealing location for a guided canoe safari. You may see elephants in the distance as you paddle along. Your guide will point out birds and keep a careful watch for hippos.

Victoria Falls

Mosi-oa-Tunya, or ‘the smoke that thunders’, is the original, Kololo name for the Victoria Falls. This national park protects a pocket of riverbank on the Zambian side of the falls, where footpaths allow you to get close to the tumbling water. At their highest, the Victoria Falls drop 108m (345ft) from their basalt lip to the Batoka Gorge at their foot, almost twice as far as the Niagara Falls. The flow is most impressive between December and July, peaking in March and April. For a different perspective on this natural wonder, you can soar over the falls in a helicopter or microlight.

Watch wildlife at Kafue National Park

Enjoy spectacular wildlife-watching in Kafue, the second largest national park in the world. Noted for its beauty and scenic variety, the park is bisected by the Kafue River, which attracts hundreds of species of birds as well as herbivores and their predators. You can explore the park on game drives, guided bushwalks and riverboat trips. There’s a very good chance of seeing cheetahs here.

White-water rafting

Go white-water rafting on the Zambezi near Livingstone between late May and mid-February. This is a world-class rafting destination, with death-defying rapids. The fearless can also try kayaking or riverboarding. Or, you could head for the calmer waters downstream for a longer, quieter river trip by boat or canoe, following the flow towards Lake Kariba. Beyond the lake is the Lower Zambezi National Park, a peaceful, watery wilderness grazed by impalas and elands.

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