Zambia

One of the Natural wonders of the world: The spectacular Victoria Falls.

 

Known for intimate owner-run safari camps and very good guiding, Zambia is favourite for safari aficionados.

 

Thought of as the birthplace of the walking safari, striking out on foot here can be particularly rewarding.

 

Relatively unvisited National parks and really fantastic wildlife viewing. 

 

Motorboat and canoeing safaris along the mighty Zambezi River in Lower Zambezi National park

 

Wonderful chances of Leopards and African wild dogs in addition to great walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park.

 

Some really unique and exclusive experiences in remote wilderness area such as Liuwa Plain, Bangweulu wetlands, Kafue and North Luangwa National Parks.

 

Zambia plays host to some amazing sights like "the other" wildebeest migration and one of the most spectacular movement of animals in World in the annual Straw-coloured fruit bat migration. 

Zambia has emerged in recent years as one of the best and most authentic safari destinations in Africa.

A great testament to that is the number of repeat visitors to the country.

It is easy to see why serial safari goers cite Zambia as their favourite place in Africa, the camps are intimate, authentic and well organised, the guiding is of a very high standard and the diversity of the different landscapes is matched by the variety of different but experiences available. The country has in its various National park all the usual large animals associated with the African savannah, although there are no cheetah and Rhino can only be spotted in 2 of their national parks. Birdlife in Zambia is also rich and diverse, with enough to keep both serious birders happy and those who never thought they like birds. As well as relatively common birds like the lovely Pearl-spotted Owlet pictured here, some really special birds can be seen with some endemics and near-endemics and such sought-after species as the African Pitta, Pels Fishing Owl and even the weird and wonderful Shoebill.

 

Most first time trips to Zambia will include a few nights in the area of Victoria Falls, as a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world it is a sight not to be missed. 

Most of the best lodging is slightly east of Livingston town and around the small National park of Mosi oa Tunya "The Smoke Which Thunders".

There are so many activities on offer at Victoria Falls and its surrounds that you would have to stay for weeks to fit them all in.

There is something for everyone: from a relaxing sunset cruise on the Zambezi to adventure sports like Whitewater rafting and bungee jumping and lots in between. Most people choose to stay for around 3 nights though, with at least one morning being a visit to the falls themselves on the Zambian side and sometimes also on the Zimbabwean side if you are there from Sept-May.

With around 30% of Zambia's land being wilderness areas safari here is varied and extremely rewarding.

Relative to other African safari destinations Zambia's National Parks are less touristic in terms of visitor numbers with most accommodation being small and intimate camps and lodges with between 3 and 8 rooms, ensuring that you will not see hoards of vehicles at big wildlife sightings.

Most Zambian National Parks have distinct seasons with camps operating May through November. This is the peak game viewing season with the camps shutting for the rainy season, but select few camps open through November and some until January.

 

South Luangwa is one of the most well-loved parks in Zambia for good reason. With a wide choice of small bushcamps providing all you need in terms of creature comforts, whilst retaining a rustic feel.

The game viewing is nothing short of spectacular, four of the big five are present (excluding Rhino). Leopard occurs here in very high densities and sightings of this most beautiful, yet formidable hunter are fairly regular! There is a very good chance of spotting African Wild Dogs or Painted Wolves as they are sometimes called, which is really great considering their rarity. Elephants play and bath in the Luangwa river and there is a healthy population of lions here.

 

Activities to choose from include game drives, night drives in search of the more nocturnal animals such as the prickly porcupine and a whole new cast of night animals. 

But the park is really famous for being the birthplace of the walking safari. Proper walking safaris are not always easy to find, but most camps in South Luangwa offer really lovely and worthwhile walking safaris. Walking safaris have always been our forte, so we appreciate it when we find the real thing offered. Walking safaris offer the chance to really explore the bush on foot, learn about the ecosystem as a whole, follow animals tracks and trails, learn about the smaller things and maybe even see that large animal on foot. They are well organised, safe and a really worthwhile experience. You are not detached from the experience but really are in the bush!

If walking safaris are your thing then a trip up to North Luangwa National Park is a fantastic option. The park receives extremely low numbers of tourists, is very well run and has had Black Rhinos successfully re-introduced. Walking safaris here out of only a handful of little bushcamps would compliment a visit to South Luangwa beautifully.

 

In the South West of Zambia across the River from Zimbabwe is the stunning Lower Zambezi National Park. Although its a relatively small National park that runs along the Zambezi River it offers a really great all-round safari experience. It has just a handful of lodges and camps, a few of which are really excellent!

Again the park has great game viewing and it is a photographer's delight with the canopy's of a particular species of tree, the Ana tree (Faidherbia albida) creating wonderfully dappled light in the woodlands.

The addition of boat safaris, famously good seasonal Tiger fishing and canoeing safaris here on the Zambezi River, combined with great walking safaris, game drives and night drives means great options for viewing wildlife in a variety of different ways.

 

Kafue National park is the countries largest national park but a lot less visited and although biting Tsetse flies are quite prevalent here, it can be a very rewarding safari destination with great walking, good chances of some of the rarer antelope species and great walking safaris.

 

Zambia also has some remote hidden gems and unique special experiences to offer.  One of those is Luiwa Plain National Park, another continuing success story of the great African Parks non-profit conservation organisation, this really is one of Africas best-kept secrets, it is as remote as it comes, being in the far west of Zambia. Its a park of vast grasslands and seasonal floodplains and plays host to what has been termed the other great migration, whereby huge herds of Wildebeest congregate seasonally with other species in huge herds on the plains. Rich in predators and a rival to some of the top safari experiences on the continent. It has only one lodge, which is luxurious and not cheap, as is the travel there, but for those looking for something truly very special - this could be it!  

 

Zambia is also home to one of the greatest congregations of mammals on earth, which very few people have ever witnessed. The Season congregation of millions upon millions of Straw-coloured Fruit Bats which occurs in Kasanka National park near Bangweulu wetlands. This would be a highly bespoke trip and presents an opportunity to see a wild spectacle unlike anything else, as they leave their roosts in the violet hews of sunset to feed and return in the golden dawns to return to roost.​

Zambia is a land of wonders waiting to be discovered!

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phil@onsafari-in.com

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