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Zambia

Africa’s most famous falls, and a host of off-the-beaten-track surprises
Overview

Zambia is home to one of the world’s best-known natural wonders—Victoria Falls—but its less-visited network of national parks is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. Whether you’re a seasoned African traveler or a complete newcomer, Zambia’s abundant opportunities for slow-paced, close-to-nature adventure—by foot or canoe—make this a uniquely appealing destination.

Zambia’s star attraction, on the border with Zimbabwe, is Victoria Falls. Here, the mile-wide Zambezi River crashes headlong into its cavernous gorge, creating the “smoke that thunders” made world-famous by 19th-century Scottish explorer David Livingstone. To feel the falls’ full tumultuous power, visit in the wet season, when a walk through the forest along the river’s edge will leave you drenched in spray. In dry season, intrepid travelers can get a completely different perspective, soaking up vertigo-inducing views on Livingstone Island or diving into Devil’s Pool, dramatically perched at the falls’ upper lip.

For off-the-grid, immersed-in-nature enchantment, few places on Earth compare to South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia. Centered on a pair of pristine river valleys, the park boasts one of Africa’s richest wildlife habitats and is ideal for walking safaris, thanks to a closely spaced series of intimate, remote bush camps. Adventurous souls can savor exceptional close-up wildlife encounters here—following fresh tracks along the riverbank, wading barefoot through shallow water face-to-face with a family of elephants, spotting dozens of newborn baby antelopes after the season’s first rain, or listening wonder-struck to the nighttime rumble of lions from the safety of camp. Myriad birds, from the iridescent lilac-breasted roller to the carmine bee-eater, flock to South Luangwa’s riverbanks and oxbow lagoons. Leopards also thrive here, drawn by the park’s abundance of puku antelope. An all-star cast of other African mammals populates the park’s floodplains and mopane woodlands.

Zambia’s parks offer numerous other close-to-nature experiences, including canoe safaris along the lower Zambezi or spotting hippos, big cats, and blue wildebeest in seldom-visited Kafue National Park.

Read more about Zambia

Country Highlights & Attractions

  • Feel the spray, hear the thunder, and soak up stupendous views at Victoria Falls
  • Walk between remote bush camps in South Luangwa National Park
  • Canoe past hippos and crocodiles in Lower Zambezi National Park
  • Enjoy exceptional bird-watching in Kafue, Zambia’s oldest and largest national park
  • Go white-water rafting and kayaking on the Zambezi River
Wildlife

Wildlife in Zambia

With its emphasis on walking and canoe safaris, Zambia offers some of Africa’s most riveting and intimate wildlife encounters—sharing a stream crossing with a family of elephants, following fresh tracks along the trail, or listening to the lullaby of African night sounds at your remote bush camp.

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African Fish Eagle

The unforgettable call of the African fish eagle provides an ever-present soundtrack to explorations of the Luangwa and Zambezi Rivers.

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Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters

Vivid red and turquoise blue, this spectacular bird nests by the hundreds in the sandy banks of the Luangwa River each September.

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Leopards

Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley is prime territory for sighting leopards, who come here in pursuit of their favorite prey, the puku antelope.

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Elephant Herds

Large herds of elephants are always a treat to see, whether from a canoe, a safari vehicle, or across the river while exploring on foot.

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African Wild Dog

Thanks to conservation efforts and research, endangered African wild dog populations are on the rise in South Luangwa National Park.

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Thornicroft Giraffe

Recognized by its very long neck and distinctive pattern and color, this rare giraffe subspecies, with less than 1500 individuals remaining, is only found in Zambia's Luangwa valley.

Country Facts

About the size of France or Texas, Zambia is a sparsely populated, landlocked country whose vast plateau of deciduous savannah and grassy plains contains some of the continent’s best wildlife parks. It is often referred to as the “real Africa” and is also regarded as the birthplace of the walking safari. The country’s most striking geographical features are spectacular Victoria Falls (along the border with Zimbabwe) and the headwaters of the mighty Zambezi, Africa’s fourth-longest river.

Known in colonial days as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964. National politics in subsequent years have been marked by long periods of one-party rule and frequent allegations of electoral improprieties, but the country has maintained its status as a democratic republic, ruled by an elected president and a unicameral national assembly. The capital city is Lusaka.

Language & People

The official language of Zambia is English. Dozens of Bantu languages and dialects are also in common use; chief among these is Bembe, spoken by one third of the population.

Zambia’s predominantly rural population of 15 million includes more than 70 tribal groups, each with its unique traditions and customs. The majority group is the Bemba, making up 21 percent of the population. Religious affiliation is about 95 percent Christian.

Food & Drink

The staple of Zambian cuisine is maize (locally known as nshima), which is served porridge-style and, for lunch and dinner, rolled into a ball and dipped in a savory vegetable, meat, or fish stew. African lager-style beers are popular and available throughout the country.

Weather & Elements

The best time to visit is from May through October. Zambia has three distinct seasons: from December to April it is warm and wet; from May to August it is cool and dry with temperatures in the mid-70s F; and from September to November, it is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching the high 90s F.

Entry Requirements & Visas

U.S. citizens: Passports and visas are required and must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of travel; importantly, passports must contain at least two clean (unstamped) visa pages at the time entry is sought. A single-entry visa only may be obtained at the port of entry for $50 (if you plan to join the Victoria Falls Classic Safari and would like to view the falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe, you will require a multiple-entry visa into Zambia for $80 and a day visa for Zimbabwe for $30, both obtained at port of entry). For most up-to-date visa information, and for non-U.S. citizens, see the Embassy of Zambia website: www.zambiaembassy.org.

For visa and passport assistance, we recommend Travel Document Systems: www.traveldocs.com.

 

Currency

Zambia uses the kwacha (abbreviated as ZMW). As of November 2014, $1 US = 1 ZMW. For up-to-date exchange rates, see www.oanda.com.

Foreign currency (preferably USD) can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices, and authorized hotels. ATM machines and credit cards can be used only in larger towns, cities, and some lodgings. If using USD, be sure to carry only bills issued 2006 or later; older bills will not be accepted. Departure taxes can be paid in USD or local currency.

Immunizations & Health

No immunizations are required to enter Zambia, with the important exception that proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers traveling from, or transiting through, a country with YFV transmission. Be sure to check the requirements of any countries you may be traveling to or through after your time in Zambia. This may be especially important if traveling to or through South Africa.

Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are also generally recommended for all travelers. Requirements and recommendations change frequently, so always check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: www.cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.

Electricity

Alternating current of 220V/230V and 50Hz is used in Zambia. The typical plug is the UK 3-pin.

Phone & Internet

Zambia country code: +260
International access code calling out of Zambia: 00

  • Cell-phone coverage throughout Zambia is growing but cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
  • Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, but less reliable elsewhere, especially in parks and reserves.

For more information about Zambia, see the national tourism board website: www.zambiatourism.com.

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Guides
Peter Milanzi

Peter Milanzi

As a boy, Peter’s father worked for the Park Authorities. Growing up in Lochinvar National Park, his interest in wildlife got an early start. Skilled guiding runs in the family; his twin brother Misheck is also a guide. Peter’s first safari experience was as bartender in Luanga Valley safari camps, and he still mixes an excellent cocktail! Inspired by his father and brother, he became a guide in 2003.

When he is not expertly revealing the wonders of the African wilderness to visitors, Peter is a traveler himself; he has been to the United Kingdom and looks forward to further journeys with his wife, a teacher, and their young daughter. With his open heart and mind, he makes every safari a special pleasure.

Manda Zambia Guide

Manda Chisanga

As a child, Manda was taken by his grandfather on journeys around Zambia. These early travels set the stage for Manda’s lifelong fascination with his countryside and led to his career as a safari guide. He has spent most of his professional guiding time in South Luangwa National Park, and while he currently resides with his wife in Mfuwe, he has lived in all the Zambian provinces.

Manda’s rich knowledge of his homeland and his warm, compassionate nature make him an endearing partner on safari as he shares amusing anecdotes and engages in discussions about local issues. Manda’s qualities earned him the Paul Morrison Guide Award from Wanderlust magazine; he generously used his prize money to set up the Mfuwe Solar-Cooker Project.

Fannuel Zambia Guide

Fannuel Banda

Raised in Mfuwe, Fannuel was lucky to have his early interest in wildlife encouraged by his grandparents and other mentors. As a young man, he gained experience in the world of safari travel by working at related jobs including transfer driver and foreman for a lodge. His charm and spirit earned him an appearance on the BBC program No Going Back. After successfully passing his guide exams, Fannuel qualified as a walking guide and now welcomes guests into the wilderness at camps throughout the region. He lives with his wife and two young sons in Mfuwe.

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Dry Season

Grass is short, so it’s easy to spot wildlife that is concentrated near waterholes.

Temperate Season

Ideal Safari season – wildlife is easy to track, and the weather is temperate.

Rainy Season

Tropical downpours mean an ideal season for birding and photography.

Light Rains

Cooler weather & nighttime rains mean animals are more active during the day.

Jan, Feb, Mar & Dec: The rains in the parks brings glorious shades of green and newborn animals. This is an excellent time for birding with many migratory species making an appearance. The parks are far less crowded, yet the wildlife remains – the value is excellent. Average high: 79-81F. Average low: 63F.

Apr & May: Often considered the best weather of the year, the temperature is mild and the crowds are few. A wonderful time for game viewing with a lush backdrop and plenty of activity. During this time, the volume of water at Victoria Falls creates such a large spray it can be difficult to take in the beauty. Average high: 79F. Average low: 59-63F.

Jun, Jul, Aug & Sept: Game viewing is prolific during these months. The weather is dry and the vegetation is short. This makes it an ideal time for walking safaris. Wildlife concentrates around water sources which are where our camps are conveniently located. Viewing the falls is best at this time of year and by August and September, intrepid travelers may take a dip in Devil’s Pool. Average high: 73-84F. Average low: 48-59F.

Oct & Nov: The driest and hottest time of year. Game viewing is excellent and with the onset of the first rains of the season, the antelope begin calving their young. This is the time of year the famous elephants in Mfuwe walk through the lobby of our lodge with their sights set on the wild mango tree. Average high: 90F. Average low: 64F.

Read more about The Best Time To Visit

2 Zambia Safaris

Zambia

South Luangwa Valley 9 Days / 8 Nights

Activities: Active Safaris, Classic Game Drives, Cultural VisitsImmerse yourself in Zambia’s wild magic on this unforgettable walking safari between intimate, remote bush camps in the heart of South Luangwa National Park.

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Safari From $6,398 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Slow down and get away from it all, experiencing wild nature at a walking pace
  • Thrill to close-up encounters with great mammals and colorful birds among the park’s floodplains and lagoons
  • See the rare Thornicroft’s giraffe, whose entire population of 1,500 is confined to South Luangwa Valley
  • Enjoy the perfect mix of comfort and immersion in nature at intimate, award-winning bush camps
  • Connect with local communities while visiting the village and schools of Mfuwe

Departure Dates


Jun 24-Jul 2Jul 13-Jul 21Aug 4-Aug 12Sep 14-Sep 22Oct 12-Oct 20

Also available as a Private departure - choose your own dates!

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Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

Zambia

Victoria Falls 3 Days / 2 Nights

Activities: Active Safaris, Cultural Visits, Urban Explorations, Boats and BeachesFeel the mist and hear the thunder of Africa’s iconic waterfall on this perfect short safari, staying in luxurious comfort at a five-star mid-river lodge.

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Safari From $2,298 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Enjoy exceptional wildlife viewing on a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River
  • Get a new perspective on the region through community visits and guided nature walks
  • Savor unparalleled, Zambezi River views from your lodge, built on two mid-river islands
  • Feel the falls’ full force during rainy season, getting drenched in mist as you hike the forest at water’s edge
  • In dry season, boat out to Livingstone Island or Devil’s Pool atop the falls for spectacular, adrenaline-charged vistas

Departure Dates


Make it your own! Private trips are just for you and your travel companions. Choose your preferred departure date and we handle all the details.

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

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