Zambia Travel and Vacations

Those who travel to Zambia normally do so to visit the mighty Victoria Falls, which occur in the Zambezi River that separates the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The country also offers several pristine national parks, most notably Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa, where luxury safari vacations based at small intimate camps emerge visitors in untouched natural surroundings where wildlife abound.

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Zambia

Top Travel Destinations in Zambia

Zambia is one of the best travel destinations on the African continent to enjoy a safari vacation reminiscent of yesteryear.

Lake Kariba

Zambia Tours & Safari Packages

Safari Packages that focus on the primary national parks of Zambia and Victoria Falls.

Zambia is a sparsely populated country with a small handful of urban centers. Livingstone is famous for tourism due to its proximity to the world wonder of Victoria Falls. National parks like South Luangwa, Kafue, and Lower Zambezi offer incredible safari experiences.

Capital City
Lusaka
Size
752,618 sq km
Border Countries
8
Provinces
10
Official Languages
1
Population
15 510 711
Currency
Zambian Kwacha (ZMW)

Other Recommended Destinations

Magnificent lakes and several 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 unique natural sights in Africa.

The sun sets over the Kasanka National Park.

Kasanka National Park

Kasanka National Park is located in central Zambia. It offers one of Africa's most spectacular natural sights from October to December when around ten million fruit bats descend on a small patch of evergreen swamp forest inside the park. It is where the famous explorer David Livingstone died on his quest to find the source of the Nile River.

Pelicans and Kafue lechwe in the Lochinvar National Park.

Lochinvar National Park

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.

An early morning fishing trip on Lake Bangweulu.

Lake Bangweulu

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.

Thatched traditional buildings along the shores of Lake Mweru.

Lake Mweru

Lake Mweru is a beautiful lake situated in remote northwestern 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.

A beached fishing boat on Lake Tanganyika.

Lake Tanganyika

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.

A lion pauses in the grasslands of Liuwa Plains National Park.

Liuwa Plains National Park

Liuwa Plains in the far western part of Zambia is one of Africa's most unspoiled 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, and tsessebe. The park also supports a healthy predator population.

Zambia Vacation Options and Travel Tips

Zambia vacations incorporate some of the finest off-the-beaten-track safari areas on the continent and the world wonder of Victoria Falls.

Best Tours and Safari Packages

10 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury 5-Star Code: S36

This luxury 10 Day safari adventure explores the Victoria Falls before embarking on a safari first in the Lower Zambezi National Park and then South Luangwa.

7 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Top-End 5-Star Code: S38

Seven days are devoted to a safari in South Luangwa. This package features luxurious safari camps in spectacular locations.

7 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury 5-Star Code: S48

A week-long safari package combines the Lower Zambezi National Park with adventure activities to the Victoria Falls.

Reasons to Visit Zambia

1

Victoria Falls

Because of 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.

2

Authentic Wilderness

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. However, if you can afford it, you will find a safari in Zambia to be an enriching experience.

3

Safari Activities

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.

4

Cultural Pursuits

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 an excellent opportunity to purchase a souvenir. Traditional cultural performances mark festive occasions in the Lower Zambezi.

Experiences to be Savored when traveling in Zambia

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.

Microlight Flight

It is undoubtedly the most breathtaking vantage point to view the Falls. Also known as 'the flight of the angels,' the exhilarating microlight flight takes you up above the Falls and through the ethereal spray cloud. Trip durations range from 15 to 30 minutes of airborne adventure and can extend to swoop across the Zambezi.

Traditional Villages

A wide variety of traditional village excursions are available, depending on where in Zambia you are visiting. Whether it's the Mukuni Village near Livingstone, the Goba community at Chiawa Cultural Village in Lower Zambezi, or the Kawaza Village on the borders of South Luangwa National Park, immerse yourself in local culture.

Walking Safari

Zambia's South Luangwa National Park is the 'birthplace of the walking safari.' While walking safaris can now be enjoyed in many wilderness areas, South Luangwa's expeditions remain the stuff of legend. Wander through 'the Valley of the Leopard' in the company of an armed scout for an authentic adventure.

Untouched Africa

Zambia is home to pristine, far-flung safari areas where many species can be seen that are not common in the other countries of Southern Africa.

African Sky provided an individually tailored safari experience with great flexibility in response to our energy levels. They provided an effective response to initial e-mail inquiries and a professional level of detail, which is why we booked with them. Mary-Anne is a gem. She was highly knowledgeable, engaging, and infectious in her enthusiasm, and nothing was too much trouble. Her care and rapport were vital to our experience – she was outstanding.

Justin & Adele Rees, UK
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Accommodation

Apart from the hotels in and around the town of Livingstone adjacent to Victoria Falls, most tourist accommodation in Zambia consists of remote tented safari camps and more traditional lodges.

View Camps & Lodges

Luxury Tented Camps

Most safari areas in Zambia host visitors in Tented Camps where no extravagance is spared to make your stay and safari experience on par with the best in Africa.

Safari Lodges

More traditional lodge structures - offer a luxurious stay and first-rate service in some of Africa's remotest and most imposing wilderness areas far from civilization.

River Lodges

Typically set on the banks of the Zambezi River or one of the islands in the river, these purchases offer sublime views and the opportunity to view different species as they come to drink.

Transport

Transportation in Zambia takes many forms. The most typical are overland transfers in air-conditioned minibusses or coaches, which we regularly use for guests visiting Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Unless otherwise stipulated, all these transfers are private. Transfers to and from activities are always included.

Commercial and charter flights are required if you venture further afield - to Kafue, South Luangwa, or Lower Zambezi National Park. 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.

Foods to try in Zambia

Trying local cuisine could add to the uniqueness of your safari in Zambia.

Nsima

The national staple is nsima, a dish of maize flour and water. The 'porridge' is typically enjoyed with two sides for relish – one protein (ndiyo) and one vegetable (masamba). The protein is usually meat like beef, goat, poultry, or fish.

Termites

For the more adventurous spirits, try fried termites, a much-favored delicacy during the rainy season. The insects are thrown into a hot frying pan with a dash of oil and salt, then sautéed until crisp and golden brown, and taste rather nut-like.

Tilapia

Tilapia is a very popular local freshwater fish mainly sourced from Lake Kariba. The firm white meat is high in protein and calcium and is delicious when grilled and served simply with a peanut sauce, a side of rice, and green beans.

Crocodile

It may sound extremely exotic, but crocodile meat is quite popular in Zambia and served in many restaurants in either steak form or as a burger patty. This succulent meat is low in fat and tastes rather like chicken.

FAQ

Will I have access to mobile reception and Internet connectivity?
While hotels and lodges in Livingstone are likely to have decent Internet connectivity and mobile reception, the more isolated lodges in Kafue, South Luangwa, and Lower Zambezi will probably have little to no access, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Which countries share borders with Zambia?
The land-locked country of Zambia shares borders with Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Will I have access to clean drinking water in Zambia?
Yes - all lodges and hotels have bottled mineral water readily available to guests.
Which is the best safari area in Zambia?
South Luangwa is home to healthy wildlife populations and is spectacular in its natural beauty; it is considered the best safari area in Zambia.
Is Zambia expensive?
While visiting the Victoria Falls area around Livingstone is typically a moderately priced endeavor, venturing further afield to Zambia's safari areas can be costly, as charter flights are often involved. Should it be within your budget, however, it is absolutely worth it and an entirely authentic safari experience awaits you.
Which safari activities will I enjoy?
It depends on the area that you visit and the season. For example, in 'the emerald season, the lagoons of South Luangwa are full enough to enjoy powerboat safaris.
Can I see rhinos in Zambia?
Yes. The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park surrounding Victoria Falls is home to the country's only white rhinos, while black rhinos occur in the less frequented North Luangwa National Park.
How would I reach the safari areas?
Most of Zambia's safari areas are accessible by charter flight (typically from Lusaka Airport) and then overland by 4x4.
Can I still visit Victoria Falls during the dry season?
Yes. Traveling during the dry season means visiting Livingstone Island and Devil's Pool is possible. For a better view of the flow of the Falls, however, you can purchase a day tripper visa and wander over to the Zimbabwean side.
Do I require a yellow fever vaccination to visit Zambia?
No - a yellow fever vaccination is no longer required to visit Zambia.

Useful Travel Info

Getting There

The historic town of Livingstone, the capital of Zambia's Southern province, is an ideal starting point for a safari 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 of 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, as they are pretty remote and far-flung.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

Zambia’s 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 their extreme heat, particularly in October.

The warm wet season prompts substantial humidity. Heavy showers and thunderstorms roll across the land, followed by 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 bushfires, 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 rains, and fresh grass animates the countryside. The budding period of woodland vegetation, like mopane and miombo, is between August and November.

Passport & Visa Info

Most European countries and the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, require visas for entry into Zambia. Conveniently, your visa may be purchased on arrival or before you depart for Zambia. At the time of writing, a single-entry visa costs 50 USD. Zambia also implements a departure tax of 25 USD for international and 8 USD for domestic flights. It is usually included in airline ticket prices; if not, it is payable at the airport in US dollars.

Medical Considerations

The entire country of Zambia is considered a high-risk malaria area. A prescription for antimalarial medication should be acquired from your physician before your departure, regardless of which safari area. Remember that antimalarials are not appropriate for small children, and guests wishing to enjoy a family safari would be better suited to opting for one of the malaria-free game reserves in South Africa.

Zambia 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 vaccination is only necessary if you are traveling to Zambia from another country on the yellow fever risk list. None of the countries 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. It should, however, not be a significant concern, as the high-end lodges used by African Sky offer complimentary bottled water of an international standard.

Health & Safety

The Victoria Falls area (Livingstone) is more crowded 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.

Avoid approaching or feeding wild animals if you stay at a safari lodge in a national park or wilderness area. 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.

Popular Activities

Victoria Falls Activities

Victoria Falls and the surrounding area offer the visitor a variety of activities from which to choose. These activities range from leisurely river cruises to adrenalin rush activities, like white water rafting and bungee jumping.

Birding

The number of identified bird species in Zambia total 753 - a large number of different species if you consider 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.

Canoeing

Those who enjoy canoeing are spoiled for choice when visiting Zambia. The most popular canoeing destination is the Zambezi River area close to Livingstone, mainly because it is very easily accessible. However, there are many lakes and rivers where spectacular scenery can be viewed while enjoying your favorite pastime.

Mobile Safaris

Several established companies offer mobile safaris to most of the national parks in Zambia. These safaris are indeed 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.

Fishing Trips

Because of its numerous lakes and large river systems, Zambia is a freshwater 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, while most fishermen also dream of fishing Lake Tanganyika at some point in their lives.

House Boating

Lake Kariba is the go-to destination in Zambia if a relaxing houseboat 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. 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 May to September.

Sites of Interest

Kalambo Falls

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. The site is interesting; however, not the waterfall itself, but rather the area's archaeological significance. Archaeologists found evidence of prehistoric fire here. Its association with early Stone Age artifacts sparks a compelling hypothesis that humans had discovered how to make a 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, digging sticks, and evidence of fruit consumption. Tools excavated from Kalambo Gorge have been dated to around 300,000 BC.

Nsalu Caves

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 relatively 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.

The People

Overview

Although Zambia has an ethnically diverse background, many of the country's cultures have been blurred by western influences, marriages across tribal groups, and frequent urban migration. However, in some rural areas, cultural practices have remained unchanged for centuries - a prime example being Barotseland in the far west.

Lozi

Here, the Lozi people maintain a tradition of the 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.

Kunda Tribe

The Kawaza Village in the Luangwa Valley is home to the Kunda tribe, who migrated from the Luba area in the Congo during the 1800s. Traditionally they were hunters, but most now live as subsistence farmers - a lifestyle constantly at odds with extreme seasons and crop-raiding wildlife.

Languages

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, used in education and administration.

Nyanja is also widespread but more of a universal 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.

Geography

Water Sources

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.

Zambezi River

Zambezi River is Africa's fourth longest at 2 650km (1 650 miles), a natural template for Zambia's border with Zimbabwe. Its course from northwest Zambia to the Indian Ocean sprawls across Southern Africa. From the turbulent waters of Victoria Falls to the restrained placidity of Lake Kariba, the Zambezi has many moods.

Seasonal Extremes

Essentially, the characters of all of 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 change throughout the year, so too do the plains and wetlands surrounding them.

Countries

View of the Drakensberg in South Africa. South Africa
Elephants in the sunset in Botswana. Botswana
A desert landscape in Namibia. Namibia
People swimming in the clear waters of Mozambique. Mozambique
View of the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Zambia
Antelope standing on a river bank in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe