With some of Africa’s finest walking safaris and some of the best guides and small camps on the continent, Zambia is well-regarded as a destination for safari connoisseurs. The Luangwa Valley, Lower Zambezi and Kafue are spectacular parks, with a wild, raw atmosphere and excellent game viewing. The stunning Victoria Falls adds to Zambia's impressive list of attractions. With the full range of safari activities on offer, a Zambia holiday offers arguably the best value for a complete African safari holiday experience, and needless to say, we absolutely love it.
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Why a Zambia Safari?
- Zambia pioneered the walking safari and has remained the leader in this field – some of the top guides and operators in Africa are to be found here.
- The crowds, or lack thereof. Entire days can be spent without seeing a soul. The seclusion that a Zambia safari offers is very rare and special, making it the perfect safari experience.
- Victoria Falls. Whether you are viewing the Falls from the Zimbabwe or Zambian side, they are a formidable sight and this is a great spot for a bucket-load of adrenaline (and non-adrenaline!) activities, including bungee-jumping.
- The migration… of fruit bats! In Kasanka National Park in the northeast, 8 million fruit bats take to the sky in late November. It’s a sight to behold as they darken the sky.
- The variety of activities on offer. All the parks offer day and night game drives, and boating, fishing, canoeing and walking are available in the majority of parks - unlike many other countries in Africa where the activities available in the parks are severely restricted.
- Zambia is very accessible. Whether you're coming from Cape Town, South Africa or travelling direct from home, there are many international flights heading there. Speak to us for the best travel advice.
Where to go on a Zambia Safari?
South Luangwa:One of Zambia’s most famous parks, the South Luangwa National Park benefits from the fertile banks and flood plains of the Luangwa River which support some of the best game viewing in Africa, especially during the dry season when the game comes close to the river to feed and drink.
There are two main areas in the South Luangwa where the camps are found - the Mfuwe area with the more substantial and older established lodges such as Kapani (Norman Carr) and Nkwali (Robin Pope), and an area in the national park across the river with smaller, rustic and remote bush camps such as Mchenja, Luwi, Nsolo, Kakuli, Tena Tena and Nsefu. It can work very well to spend a couple of nights at one of the 'main' camps in the Mfuwe area and then to go deeper into the park to stay in one of the more remote 'bush camps' such as those offered by Robin Pope, Norman Carr and The Bush Camp Company.
North Luangwa:When considering where to stay in Zambia, consider that North Luangwa is quite literally the most remote safari destination in Africa, to the extent that the only roads into the park lead to the only camp, Mwaleshi. The walking safaris here are the best in the world. Walking is the main activity, though there are (somewhat limited) game drives and night drives on offer. If you want to get away from it all - this is where to go!
The camps and lodges in the Lower Zambezi are all located along the Zambezi River, with views on to the river and a backdrop of hills towards the stunning escarpment. Part of the stretch along the river is within the GMA (Game Management Area); this area is more accessible if one is driving and hence a little busier. The game is good here but it’s better to stay at a safari lodge inside the park. The further into the park you go the fewer vehicles there are and the wilder it gets.
There are five or so top camps here in the Lower Zambezi - like most in Zambia, the safari lodges are all owner-run and are hosted in a very homely and friendly manner. Just outside the park is Chongwe River Camp in the GMA; moving into the park there is the luxurious Sausage Tree and Potato Bush, then the more classic Chiawa and deeper inside the park its sister bush camp, the more rustic and remote Old Mondoro. The newest property is Anabezi, a luxurious option deep in a remote part of the park.
Kafue:Kafue is Africa's third largest National Park, and the Busanga Plains in the north of Kafue is one of the few areas comparable to the Serengeti for big cats. The main camps that we recommend are wonderfully small; Shumba has 6 tents, and Busanga only 4; this and the low numbers of visitors to the park guarantees you a truly exclusive and remote experience.
Where is Zambia?
Please see our map below for a detailed map of Zambia and it's surrounding countries.
Is Zambia a good safari destination?
We love Zambia. For those that have visited the continent a few times and are seeking something really wild, raw and beautiful- look no further! The remote, low key and uncommercial parks pumping with incredible wildlife action make a Zambia safari one of the best holidays you can do. What makes Zambia so special is that many of the camps are still actually owner run which is a rarity in the rest of Africa.
When to go on a Zambia Holiday?
Zambia follows the wet and dry season schedule of the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). The dry season tends to run from May to October, and during this period it gradually heats up until the heavens open in November to mark the start of the humid wet season. The rains tend to fall until April when the cycle begins once more.
The best time to visit for a Zambia holiday is during the dry season when temperatures are pleasant, the sun shines, the bush is sparse and animals gather around waterholes, thus making them easier to spot. The hipos also tend to put on an excellent show as they become irritable and jostle for position in the ever-drying waterholes. Many camps are in fact closed during the rains which limits your options, and if you find some open, consider that access may be tricky.
Getting Around Zambia
Most trips to Zambia start in either Livingstone or Lusaka, and all the parks can be accessed from these points by light aircraft. The main flight operator is Proflight which has a large fleet of aircraft, and with a larger group it is also possible to charter flights from one park to the other for a more exclusive and direct flight itinerary.
The main international hub is Lusaka, the capital, which is served by a number of airlines including Emirates, KLM and Kenya Airways. It is now also possible to connect with Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania, which is useful if you are contemplating a multi-country itinerary or a beach extension after your safari (although this will generally involve a 'dead night' somewhere).
Is Zambia Safe?
Zambia is safe to visit as a tourist. Please either see the foreign office website or just give us a call if you are concerned though!
For further insight into a Zambian safari, have a look at our recent blog posts:
A Guide to the Green Season
Walking in Zambia
Eastern Africa vs Southern Africa Safari