Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia is a landlocked country at the heart of Southern Africa. The country is a politically stable destination having, fortunately, escaped the strife of some of its neighbours.
The wilderness areas protect seriously spectacular wildlife. One of the most significant benefits of visiting Zambia is the lack of tourists.
The Zambian authorities have designated 30% of the country’s land as wildlife reserves and national parks. With much to see in the 20 national parks and 34 game management areas: these are just some of the highlights.
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls spans the Zambezi River in the southwest of Zambia. The waters plunge 108m into the Batoka Gorge, eventually entering the human-made Lake Kariba. An attractive area beyond the dam is the Lower Zambezi National Park where great lions and elephants roam free.
In the southeast, the Luangwa River meanders through sandy terrain. Two of the area’s national parks are the birthplace of the original walking safari: the South Luangwa National Park also has exceptional wild dog and leopard sightings. At the same time, remote and virtually untouched North Luangwa is virgin African bush with impressive wildlife sightings.
More remote and wilder than the southern park. The North Luangwa is especially well known for walking safaris from small bushcamps. Game viewing is exciting with large herds of buffalo for which the park is renowned. Lion, leopard and other predators are common. Plains game here includes Cookson’s wildebeest. Birding opportunities abound with African finfoot, Lady Ross’s turaco and Narina trogon being only a few of the more special species.
Found in the geographical centre of the country, the Kafue National Park receives fewer than 1000 tourists per annum. Thanks to its large size, a wide diversity of wildlife can be found there. Well-managed camps and lodges, efficient park management and the low number of tourists make this area one of Zambia’s main highlights.
Far away in the back of beyond is the Liuwa National Park. Un-commercialised in every way, the plains are wild and vast. Summer floods give rise to a massive inland delta, and when the water recedes, fresh grass appears, providing food for many herbivores. Also, fish and insects feed flocks of birds which gather in their thousands.
An immensely valuable conservation area which aside from protecting resident species also includes a critical habitat for straw coloured fruit bats. This small park is inundated with upwards of 10 million bats in October and November each year. This is the greatest annual migration of mammals on earth.
North of Kasanka National Park are the vast Bangweulu Wetlands. Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky” and during the rainy season the swamps swell to three times their size in dry season. This is Africa’s greatest swamp with open water, swamps and seasonally flooded grass lands. The grass plains support a huge variety of aquatic birdlife, including a good population of shoebill storks. Whilst relatively inaccessible, the destination offers significant rewards for African aficionados.
When planning a visit to Zambia, allow for no fewer than ten nights in the country, with a fortnight preferable. A rewarding combination is a couple of nights in Victoria Falls together with two national parks. We suggest flying in between the areas. Zambia has an efficient domestic airline (although there is a strict luggage limit).