For a true wilderness experience staying at small owner-run camps/lodges, and the chance to see spectacular wildlife, Zambia is sensational.
Nuts and Bolts
-Practicalities and plus points
The international gateways are Lusaka and Livingstone, however an extensive Proflight network offers connections throughout the country.
Direct flights to Lusaka with BA ended over a decade ago. There are reliable routes with Emirates (via Dubai), Qatar (via Doha), Ethiopian Airlines (via Addis) and BA/Airlink (via Johannesburg). Depending on the carrier, journeys take around 15-18 hours from London.
Very little time change (GMT+2) so no jet lag.
Many small owner-run camps/lodges provides for really genuine hospitality.
Wide range of activities – 4×4 safari, walking, boating, wildlife hides, fly-camping, night drives, fishing, birding.
Good combinations available – combine several safari areas, or a safari with a visit to Victoria Falls (from Livingstone) – relax at a river lodge for a few days or enjoy a lake stay by combining a Zambia safari with Lake Malawi.
-Best areas for wildlife
The Luangwa Valley (North & South Luangwa National Parks) and the Lower Zambezi are the premier wildlife destinations in Zambia. The optimum time to be on safari in these areas is June to October. Many camps are seasonal, closing during the long rains December – March, although some permanent lodges stay open year-round.
South Luangwa, also known as the Valley of the Leopard, is (unsurprisingly) fantastic for leopard sightings, as well as lion, hosting Zambia’s largest populations. You’ll find a wide range of plains game (e.g impala, kudu, waterbuck, zebra, sable, roan, Cookson’s wildebeest), buffalo, elephant and Thornicroft’s giraffes, while the mighty river system offers exceptional birding (450 species), hippo and crocodile sightings.
The Lower Zambezi also offers excellent predator activity, with plentiful plains game and superb elephant encounters. There are no giraffe in the Lower Zambezi. Boating on the Zambezi offers a closer view of the river life including birds, hippos and crocs.
Wild dog packs have strengthened in both areas but you’re unlikely to glimpse cheetah unless you travel to Kafue National Park, which has a higher density. You won’t see wild rhino either – these have been decimated by poaching. It is hoped they will return to the landscape one day with a reintroduction programme in North Luangwa. It is possible to visit a rhino conservation project near Livingstone (Victoria Falls) however.
For shoebills, head to the Bangweulu Swamps. For carmine bee-eater nesting, the season is September.
Take your pick – the wilderness is never far away in Zambia and this is one of the major attractions of this wonderful country, relatively untouched by mass tourism.
All of Zambia’s parks offer a wilderness experience so really it comes down to what you what to see and do. The breadth of experience is superb with 4×4 safari, walking, boating, fly camping, night drives, fishing, birding, wildlife hides, star beds, community and project visits, and even cycling available, and that’s not including the many activities on offer in and around Livingstone (Victoria Falls) such as rafting, bungee jumping and jet boating.
In addition to the Luangwa Valley and Lower Zambezi, you also have other wild areas to consider. Kafue is actually Zambia’s oldest and largest park but receives few visitors. A handful of excellent camps are located in the Busanga Plains area. Liuwa is managed by African Parks, and is going through something of a transformation with monitoring programmes and wildlife reintroductions. Kasanka and
Even the most frequented destination by tourists – the South Luangwa – offers exclusivity with tiny seasonal bush camps scattered throughout the park. The gateway of Mfuwe is the busiest section and home to several larger permanent lodges which open year-round (and offer excellent game viewing) with north and south of this area feeling increasingly remote and pristine. Head to North Luangwa and the tracks all but disappear leaving the perfect environment for walking safaris along the Mwaleshi River.
-Luxury & Romance
Zambia excels at wilderness experiences with top guiding and hospitality and all the comforts you could ever need at carefully crafted bush camps and lodges with bags of character. We’re talking bush-style sophistication, perfect for lovers of the great outdoors, as opposed to a more ‘traditional’ hotel-style level of luxury (which tends to be more sanitised and removed from its environment). That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to us about your expectations so we can match the right client with the right camp. The most luxurious properties in Zambia would probably be Puku Ridge and Sungani (both South Luangwa).
Away from the bush camps and lodges of the safari areas you’ll find stunning river lodges near to Livingstone (for Victoria Falls) and along the Upper Zambezi, perfect for pre or post safari R&R – Tongabezi and Thorntree among them – you can very happily while away the days watching the world go by here.
If you’re after more of a beach vibe then the idyllic shores of Lake Malawi are only a short hop away.
Families with teenage/grown up children will especially enjoy Zambia. There are a number of safari houses ideal for multi-gen groups or friends travelling together.
-Why you should book with a specialist
We don’t charge for advice so you have a lot to gain from consulting a specialist with genuine first-hand experience. You can spend hours researching online but at the end of it, will you really know if the camp’s location is any good for wildlife, and what the guiding, or food is like? Since a safari holiday is a significant spend for most people, it’s better to get the details right. Our team will be able to answer your questions with confidence because we’ve been and we know.
You won’t pay more through our network, than if booking direct, because our partners have access to special agent rates.
By booking a package with us you will benefit from financial protection (ATOL / ABTOT), and 24/7 support should anything go wrong.
By booking through us you’ll be supporting conservation charity Explorers Against Extinction at no additional cost to you.
(browse sample itineraries and a destination guide at our dedicated site, Real Africa)