Zambia is one of the best travel destinations on the African continent to enjoy a safari vacation reminiscent of yesteryear.
Zambia is a sparsely populated country with a small handful of urban centers. Livingstone is popular for tourism, due to its proximity to the world wonder of the Victoria Falls. National parks like South Luangwa, Kafue and Lower Zambezi offer incredible safari experiences.
|Size||752,618 sq km|
|Population||15 510 711|
|Currency||Zambian Kwacha (ZMW)|
The Victoria Falls is the top destination in Zambia. It attracts thousands of visitors to the town of Livingstone each year to view this natural spectacle. The most popular national parks in the country include Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa as well as Kafue, the largest national park in Zambia.
Africa's grandest natural spectacle
The Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Beautiful natural scenery
Lower Zambezi National Park hugs the northern banks of the Zambezi River.
Explore the Luangwa River Valley on foot or by open 4x4 game vehicle.
Grassy plains & seasonal swamps
Meet the famous lions of the Busanga plains or float above the park in an hot air balloon.
Magnificent lakes and a number of lesser known national parks make up the other Zambian destinations recommended by African Sky. Zambian tourism is primarily nature-based with a remarkable diversity of protected areas and some of the most unique natural sights in Africa.
Kasanka National Park is located in central Zambia. It offers one of the most spectacular natural sights in Africa from October to December, when around ten million fruit bats descend on a small patch of evergreen swamp forest inside the park. It also has the distinction of being the place where David Livingstone died on his quest to find the source of the Nile River.
It must be said that Lochinvar does not have the abundance of large mammals found in Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa or Kafue. Situated on the southern edge of the Kafue floodplain, the park does offer 428 species of birds, and you are very likely to see large herds of Kafue lechwe, one of the three species of lechwe found in Zambia.
Bangweulu means 'the place where the water meets the sky' - a fitting name for this area of astonishing beauty where it is often hard to tell where the edge of the lake ends and the sky begins when looking out over its massive expanse. The area receives a very high annual rainfall and is normally flooded between November and March.
Kariba is the largest man-made lake in Africa, 226km long and in places as wide as 40 km. Different types of water sports as well as exceptional tiger fishing are the most popular activities available in the area. House boat rentals are available for those who wish to spend a few days of their vacation relaxing on Lake Kariba.
Lake Mweru is a beautiful lake situated in the remote northwestern part of Zambia. It is definitely not a destination for the average tourist. Those who like to wander off the beaten track will be richly rewarded by dramatic beauty and an authentic African travel destination.
Lake Tanganyika is one of Africa's great lakes. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake by volume, second only to lake Baikal in Russia. The accommodations available at Lake Tanganyika range from luxury island lodges to more basic guest house accommodation catering to more budget-conscious travelers. The temperatures in the region are mild with temperatures in the mid-twenties throughout the year.
Liuwa Plains in the far western part of Zambia is one of Africa's most unspoilt wilderness areas. The park is best visited from August to December. With the onset of the rainy season in late October, vast herds of wildebeest migrate from Angola. Other antelope common to the park include red lechwe, roan, oribi as well as tsessebe. The park also supports a healthy predator population.
This tiny national park includes the Victoria Falls and a stretch of 12km to the west of the Falls on the Zambezi River. It is a great destination for those wishing to spot some game near the Victoria Falls. Species that can normally be seen include elephant, zebra and giraffe. It is also the only place in Zambia where the endangered white rhino can be spotted.
Zambia vacations incorporate some of the finest off-the-beaten track safari areas on the continent, as well as the world wonder of Victoria Falls.
The beaten track
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Because of the Victoria Falls, Zambia has always been a popular African travel destination. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the sheer drama and beauty of the Falls never leave those who lay eyes upon them. The largest waterfall in the world, it is locally known as 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' (the smoke that thunders). Zambia offers convenient access to the Falls from a lavish collection of riverfront lodges and hotels.
Zambia is increasingly emerging as a coveted safari destination. Its national parks are still relatively under-developed, resulting in authentically ‘wild’ and pristine wilderness areas. Beyond the falls, safari travel to Zambia can indeed be expensive. The remote nature of the various lodges and conservation areas means that they do require a bit of effort to reach. If you can afford it, however, you will find a safari in Zambia to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
The unique environments that characterize Zambia's wilderness areas mean that unique activities are also available, from hot air ballooning above the Busanga Plains or angling in the Zambezi River to seasonal boating on the oxbow lagoons of the Luangwa River Valley. Traditional game drives and intimate walking safaris are also available and form the backbone of any African safari.
Despite many of the lodges' far-flung locations, many rural communities thrive in these areas and contribute enthusiastically to wildlife conservation. Numerous lodges offer local village tours that incorporate visits to schools and markets. Tribal textile excursions are also popular, and a great opportunity to purchase a souvenir or two. Traditional cultural performances mark festive occasions in the Lower Zambezi.
The historic town of Livingstone, the capital of Zambia’s southern province, is an ideal starting point for a safari based around Victoria Falls. Botswana’s Chobe National Park is also easily accessible from Livingstone. Lusaka is the capital city of Zambia and the choice access point to all Zambia’s major national parks – South Luangwa, Kafue and Lower Zambezi. Visitors will always require connecting charter flights from Lusaka to the various safari areas, however, as they are quite remote and far-flung.
Zambia’s general elevation provides it with a more agreeable climate than that experienced in most tropical countries. There are three seasons – cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to November, and warm and wet from December to April. Only in the valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers is there extreme heat, particularly in October.
The warm wet season prompts substantial humidity. Regular heavy showers and thunderstorms roll across the land, followed by spells of bright sunshine. Plants flourish and the rivers and streams replenish almost overnight. During the cool dry season, evening frost may occur in places sheltered from the wind. The countryside dries up gradually and bush fires, fanned by high winds, are prevalent during this time of the year. Temperatures rise significantly during the hot, dry season but new leaves appear on the trees before the start of the rains and new grass animates the countryside. The budding period of woodland vegetation, like mopane and miombo, is between August and November.
The entire country of Zambia is considered a high risk malaria area. As such, anti-malarial medication should be acquired from your personal physician prior to your departure, regardless of which safari area you will be traveling to within the country. Keep in mind that anti-malarials are not appropriate for small children, and guests wishing to enjoy a family safari would be better suited opting for one of the malaria-free game reserves in South Africa.
Zambia was recently moved off the CDC’s ‘yellow fever risk’ list to ‘low potential of exposure’. As a result, a yellow fever vaccination is no longer required. Proof of a vaccination is only necessary if you are traveling to Zambia from another country on the yellow fever risk list. None of the countries that we include in our safaris and tours fall under this classification.
It is highly recommended that your routine vaccinations are up to date. These include MMR, DTP, varicella, polio and your annual flu shot. Beyond this, be selective of your drinking water. This should, however, not be a major concern, as the high-end lodges used by African Sky offer complimentary bottled water of an international standard.
The Victoria Falls area (Livingstone) is certainly more populous than the safari areas, and naturally urban centers often foster petty crime. Be discreet with your valuables, and should you be traveling with items of considerable value, keep them tucked away in your in-room safe or ask reception to lock them away for you. When visiting bustling markets, like those near the Falls, remain alert and be firm with hagglers.
Should you be staying at a safari lodge in a national park or wilderness area, avoid approaching or feeding wild animals. Should the lodge be unfenced, refrain from walking around alone at night - typically lodge staff will always be on hand with a flashlight to guide you safely to your room.
Zambian experiences are all steeped in authenticity - authentic walking safaris, truly engaging cultural immersion and some of the most awe-inspiring views imaginable, free from pretension or terrestrial limitation.
Transportation in Zambia takes many forms. The most typical are overland transfers in air-conditioned minibuses or coaches, which we make regular use of for our guests that visit Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. Unless otherwise stipulated, all these transfers are private, and transfers are always included for activities.
If you are venturing further afield - to Kafue, South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi National Park - both commercial and charter flights are required. Boat transfers are also available, but are less common. Should you wish to travel overland, it can be a rather strenuous journey that can only be accomplished in a hardy 4x4 vehicle.
Your comfort and safety while traveling in Southern Africa are paramount to us, and we only ever work with operators and drivers that adhere to our high standards.
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Zambia is not as well-known by most foreign travelers as the other countries of Southern Africa. It does, however, offer a host of unique national parks, attractions and safari experiences. Especially the walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park should be considered by those seeking an off the beaten track travel experience in Africa.Read More
I am telling everyone I know about African Sky and our wonderful adventures in South Africa and Zambia. Thank you again for putting everything together so well. We're so glad we got to meet you in person as well – that made such a nice ending to our stay in Cape Town!
Gail & Chris Gorske, USA
Although Zambia has an ethnically diverse background, many of the country's individual cultures have been blurred by western influences, marriages across tribal groups and frequent urban migration. However, in some rural areas, cultural practices have remained largely unchanged for centuries - a prime example being Barotseland in the far west.
Here, the Lozi people maintain a tradition of annual migration to escape the seasonal floods of the Upper Zambezi. The departure of the Lozi king and his entourage is part of the Ku-omboka, Zambia's most spectacular traditional ceremony, which usually takes place in February or March before a full moon.
The Kawaza Village in the Luangwa Valley is home to the Kunda tribe who migrated from the Luba area in the Congo during the 1800's. Traditionally they were hunters, but most now live as subsistence farmers - a lifestyle constantly at odds with extreme seasons and crop-raiding wildlife.
Although Zambia's official language is English, over 70 dialects of Bantu origin have been identified in at least 16 cultural groups across the country. Bemba, the largest of these, is concentrated around Lusaka and the Copperbelt, where it is used in education and administration.
Nyanja is also widespread, but is more of a universal kind of lingua franca than a traditional language. Tonga is much older and widely used in the Zambezi Valley, while Lozi is confined mainly to the west around Barotseland. Other major dialects include Kaonde, Lunda, Luvale, Nsenga and Tumbuka.
Though not as impressive as the Victoria Falls, at 235m (772 ft) the single drop Kalambo Falls are one of the tallest on the continent. What makes the site interesting, however, is not really the waterfall itself, but rather the area's archaeological significance. Archaeologists found evidence of prehistoric fire here, and its association with early Stone Age artifacts sparks a tantalizing hypothesis that humans had discovered how to make fire in this corner of Africa some 60 000 years ago. Late Acheulian stone tools, hearths and well-preserved organic objects were found there, including a wooden club and digging sticks and evidence of fruit consumption. Tools excavated from Kalambo Gorge have been dated to around 300,000 BC.
The Nsalu Caves also provide fascinating archaeological insight. The national monument contains rock paintings ranging from 2 000 to possibly 100 000 years of age. The older Stone Age designs appear as abstract lines and circles. Though quite neglected, the site is still worth a visit should you find yourself in the Bangweulu region, which is famous for the small but diverse Kasanka National Park.
Zambia's water sources define much of the country's landscape. Although much of Lake Tanganyika lies outside Zambia, this 'inland sea' of the Great Rift Valley nicks the country's northern border. Like nearby Lake Mweru, its waters teem with fish, providing a valuable source of protein for local communities.
A natural template for Zambia's border with Zimbabwe, the Zambezi River is Africa's fourth longest at 2 650km (1 650 miles). Its course from northwest Zambia to the Indian Ocean sprawls across Southern Africa. From the tempestuous waters of Victoria Falls to the restrained placidity of Lake Kariba, the Zambezi has many moods.
To a large extent, the characters of all Zambia's rivers are influenced by seasonal extremes. Nourished by a vein-like network of tributaries, the Luangwa River and Kafue River pulse and subside in time to flood and drought. Just as the rivers themselves change throughout the year, so too do the plains and wetlands that surround them.
An abundance of activities can be enjoyed at and near the Victoria Falls on the Zambian side of the Zambezi river. These activities range from leisurely river cruises to adrenalin rush activities, like white water rafting and bungee jumping.
The number of identified bird species in Zambia total 753 - a large number of different species, if you take into account that Zambia is a landlocked country and that the entire country falls within a single biome. Zambia's primary wetlands, including the Kafue Flats, Bangweulu Swamp and Busanga Plains, are the country's top birding destinations. The seasonal South Luangwa National Park is another prime birding destination.
Those who enjoy canoeing are spoiled for choice when visiting Zambia. The most popular canoeing destination is the Zambezi River area close to Livingstone, mostly because it is very easily accessible. There are, however, a great number of lakes and rivers where spectacular scenery can be viewed while enjoying your favorite pastime.
A number of established companies offer mobile safaris to most of the national parks in Zambia. These safaris are truly reminiscent of those enjoyed by the great explorers of yesteryear. It is recommended that you devote at least a week to any mobile safari in Zambia to fully enjoy the experience and the untamed wilderness areas in which these safaris are conducted.
Because of its numerous lakes and large river systems, Zambia is a fresh water angler's paradise. The best fishing spots will require flights in light charter aircraft to remote lodges, or will require overland 4x4 travel over rough terrain. Tiger fishermen favor the upper Zambezi, whilst most fishermen also dream of fishing Lake Tanganyika at some point in their lives.
Lake Kariba is the go-to destination in Zambia if a relaxing house boat holiday is what is of interest to you. The Zambian side of Lake Kariba is not as busy as the Zimbabwean side, the weather is fine and the prices are quite reasonable. The choice of whether to book a self-catered and self-operated, or fully-catered and crewed houseboat, is yours. The best months for a house boating adventure are the winter and spring months from about May to September.