Where to visit in Zambia
Zambia is a large country in southern Africa, home to a variety of topographies and landscapes. Most travelers will fly into the country’s capital – Lusaka – and either have a night to relax here (in somewhere like Latitude 15), or connect straight onto an internal flight to start your safari.
There are 20 national parks and over 30 game management areas in Zambia. While each park is managed in a different way, they are all protected in similar ways. Whether you go on safari in the Luangwa Valley, Kafue National Park, the Lower Zambezi or Liuwa Plain National Park, park and concession fees are used to protect the park – supporting anti-poaching rangers and conservation projects.
South Luangwa National Park
The South Luangwa National Park is a vast area spanning either side of the Luangwa River in eastern Zambia. While the majority of the landscape is dry, open plains, there are areas of thicker vegetation towards the escarpment. These areas are often explored by game drives as walking safaris tend to stick to the more open savannahs. This park is one of the most visited in Zambia, and rightly so. The park is home to an impressive number of big cats (leopard and lion in particular), as well as other predators like hyena and African wild dogs. Most travelers will fly into Mfuwe airport in the central part of the park. There are safari camps in this Mfuwe region, but also a great choice of camps further north and south of Mfuwe – which is quieter and offers more exclusive sightings. The South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris which allow you to get closer to big and small species of wildlife on foot.
North Luangwa National Park
Located north of the South Luangwa National Park is the more remote and exclusive North Luangwa National Park. Access into the park is via a light aircraft plane, usually from South Luangwa National Park and combined together in an itinerary. The more challenging accessibility into the park, and the very few camps that are located here is the reason that it is much less visited than other parks in Zambia. That said, if you can get there, it truly is a magical park. The Mwaleshi River is one of the focal points of a safari in North Luangwa National Park. The central part of the park is also home to a rhino sanctuary program, which is the only park where you can see black rhinos in the country. Tented camps like Mwaleshi and Takwela Camps are great options for a remote North Luangwa safari. Image credit: Mwaleshi Camp, Remote Africa
Lower Zambezi National Park
Located in eastern Zambia south of the Luangwa Valley, is the Lower Zambezi National Park. This beautiful park is centered around the northwestern part of the Zambezi River. The Zambian part of this ecosystem, and to the west of the Zambezi River, is the Lower Zambezi National Park. To the east of the river and on the Zimbabwean side is Mana Pools. Both parks share a very similar landscape and safari experience. The Lower Zambezi is a fantastic park to head to for your Zambian safari because of its variety of activities. Of course, game drives are on offer, but there is so much more to do here, including boat safaris, canoe safaris, bush walks, night drives, and fly camping. There are even opportunities to enjoy lunch and sundowners out on a smaller channel, eating deliciously cooked food while your feet are in the water. It’s certainly worth spending a few days in the Lower Zambezi, either as a stand-alone safari destination, or combining it with another park such as the South Luangwa National Park or Victoria Falls.
Kafue National Park
At a size of around 22,500 square kilometers, Kafue is located in western Zambia, and is one of the largest parks in Africa. This park is one of the most varied in terms of its topography, landscape and wildlife species. Its terrain varies from riverine forest surrounding the Kafue River, dense swamps, and vast grassland plains. Predator numbers are exceptional in Kafue National Park, with lions, leopards, hyena and cheetah aplenty. Kafue is also home to a huge variety of antelope species – with puku, sable, bushbuck, waterbuck, wildebeest and oribi to name a few. For bird enthusiasts, Kafue is a great park to head to, with over 480 species recorded here. For accommodation, Busanga Bush Camp and Shumba Camp are two great options. These are both located close to the Busanga Plains, offering authentic safari tented accommodation. For something a little more unique and special, Chisa Camp offers ‘bird nest’ accommodation that is certainly a memorable way to spend a few nights in the bush.
Victoria Falls and Livingstone
Livingstone is the gateway to Zambia’s side of the mighty Victoria Falls. Located in the south west of the country, the town is named after the famous missionary explorer who explored this area himself – David Livingstone. While there is lots to do in Livingstone, the main draw is the world-famous Victoria Falls. At a height of over 100 meters, and a width of over 1,700 meters, Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. There are a handful of fantastic hotels around the Livingstone area, including the Royal Livingstone Hotel and the David Livingstone Safari Lodge. During your stay here, you can do excursions such as a guided tour of Victoria Falls, a guided city tour of Livingstone, Devil’s Pool, art and artisan tours, white water rafting or sunset boat cruises. It’s also possible to do day visits to nearby safari destinations like Chobe in Botswana.
Liuwa Plain National Park
Located in the western province of Zambia is Liuwa Plain National Park. When considering your Zambia safari, this park is certainly more off-the-beaten-track than other destinations. It is more renowned for its wildebeest migration. With around 30,000 wildebeests making an annual pilgrimage around the Liuwa Plains, it’s the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent (second to the Serengeti and Masai Mara wildebeest migration). Another reason the park is known is because of the story of Lady Liuwa. African Parks reintroduced lions to this area but one lioness that made a big impact was named Lady Liuwa. Aside from lions, the biggest predator in the park is the hyena. Watching hyenas hunt in Liuwa Plain National Park is such a memorable experience especially as other destinations highlight them as scavengers alone. The most luxurious property in Liuwa Plain National Park is Time + Tide’s King Lewanika Lodge.
Capital of Zambia
Located in the southern-central part of the country is Zambia’s capital Lusaka. Like most African capital cities, Lusaka is quite chaotic and busy, but because of its international airport, it is where most travelers will fly into and out of. Whether you are doing an overnight stay in Lusaka, or spending a few hours there in between internal or international flights, a great place to relax is Latitude 15. This luxury boutique hotel has amenities like a swimming pool, bar, restaurant and plenty of nice outdoor space. Image credit: Latitude 15, Lusaka
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