Zambia

The Land of the legendary African walking safari, Victoria Falls, the wild Zambezi River, abundant wildlife, and raw wilderness, all in one stunning, amazingly friendly country.

Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, with a tropical climate; geologically structured mainly by high plateaus, some hills and mountains, dissected by river valleys. Zambia neighbors: the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia, and it is the only modern city to be found in this otherwise uncontaminated and authentic African country.

Another sign of civilization you could come across during your tour in Zambia is Livingstone, a small urban center, close to the amazing and world renowned Victoria Falls.

All the other built-up areas are so far from the main touristic destinations that don’t deserve to be mentioned here.

The rest of the country is pure, pristine, uncontaminated genuine Africa, with lots of colored and typical villages nestled along the main roads, with thatched huts and children playing around everywhere. With an area of 752,000 km², the country is slightly larger than twice the size of Germany or slightly larger than Texas.

The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the South Africa Company from 1891 till the takeover by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, mining exploitation spurred development and immigration. The name was eventually changed to Zambia upon independence, in 1964. 

Known as one of the safest countries in Africa, Zambia, with its National Parks, waterfalls and a plethora of different habitats (from savanna to thick bush, from swamps to open plains), gives you the opportunity to discover a wide variety of landscapes and wildlife diversity, undeniably unique in the world.

A true paradise both for mammals and birds lovers.

After too many years of indiscriminate poaching and utter wildlife depletion, the flora and fauna are currently so well protected that the number of animals has been constantly increasing for some time, while the “true Africa” atmosphere has been unspoiled over time. “True Africa” may sound like an overly used, cliché term,  but this country is one of the very few that still deserves to be called so; in the warm Heart of Africa, you will enjoy some of the best safari experience ever.

Zambia is obviously not just Victoria Falls, and taking into consideration that about 30% of its territory is reserved for wildlife you will easily get the picture. There are 20 national parks and 34 game management areas in the country.  South Luangwa, Kafue and Lower Zambezi rank among the finest game parks in the whole world, with some hidden gems like Liuwa Plains, Kasanka and Bangweulu Swamps that have stunning wildlife but are still mostly unknown to mainstream tourism ( therefore, surprisingly enough, you might end up being the only visitor of the Park! That’s one of a kind experience! )

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SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

Although South Luangwa is only about half the size of other southern African well known Parks like Kruger (South Africa) or Etosha (Namibia), in terms of density of big game, it represents something unique and way beyond all others. Commonly known as the Valley of the Leopard, visiting South Luangwa without having a proper run in with leopards would definitely qualify as an extremely unlikely occurrence. There are many contenders for the prize of Africa’s Best Park but few of them can boast an animal’s density comparable to this park. Sometimes the park can be crowded, but nowhere near the Masai Mara or Kruger Park. On top of it, this is one of the few Parks that allows night drives, which means you can stick to your leopard sighting and follow it during its nocturnal hunts.

The incredibly diverse landscapes range from dense forests of mopane trees and leopard’s favorite sausage trees, to wide open savanna, dotted by the occasional, solitary baobab tree, all surrounded by the Luangwa River.

There is a plethora of accommodations to choose from but most of them are upmarket oriented  ($500 to $1000 per person per night); you could otherwise opt for a camp site but remember to book it well in advance. Most of the accommodation options are conveniently located along the Luangwa river’s edge, so you can spot hippos, crocodiles, elephants and much more without even leaving the comfort of your room. Lodges are usually unfenced so it’s quite common to experience elephants walking through the reception of your lodge! Ain’t that really something?!

LOWER ZAMBESI

Just a few hours drive from Lusaka (or half an hour chartered flight) and you’ll be at Lower Zambezi, arguably Zambia’s most picturesque park, with some quite stunning and exclusive luxury lodges.

Animals feel particularly protected in this area, since on the opposite river bank, on the Zimbabwean side of the border, there’s Mana Pools National Park (one of the best Parks of Zimbabwe); hence the animals have a huge secure area to roam through.

This part of the Zambezi River has become a special, favorite spot for fishing enthusiasts. Big tiger fish and bream catches are common. Fishing and canoeing trips (also for a few days) can be easily arranged by several lodges that are found along the river. On these trips it’s quite common to see herds of up to a hundred elephants crossing the channels to reach some green island in the middle of the river.

Another special treat this Park offers is bush walking, led by some of the most skilled guides you can find in Africa.

Most of the activities along the Zambezi River will naturally involve water, but game drives will also be available, especially on the flooded plains, where lions and other predators can be easily seen, along with all the big game you can think of (except rhinos and giraffes).

KAFUE NATIONAL PARK

Found in the centre of western Zambia, Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest park of Zambia. It covers a massive 22,400 square km (even larger then the Kruger Park).

Originally established as a National Park in the 50’s by the legendary Norman Carr, Kafue is one of the largest national park in the whole Africa. Despite its size and prominent location, it remains little-known and largely unexplored with vast tracts of its virgin bush still untouched. Thanks to its size and variety of habitats, Kafue features an unparalleled diversity of wildlife; on the other hand it doesn’t quite reach the stunning animal’s density of South Luangwa.

Despite the recent increase in  number of visitors, most of the time you will feel like you are the only person visiting the park.

This increase in visitors has led to additional revenues for the Park Management; this money has been wisely invested to beef up security measures and anti poaching units.

These efforts are pretty evident and the size of wild animal’s population is constantly increasing, year after year.

The Park can be conveniently split into 2 sections: North Kafue and South Kafue.

Due to the diversity of this two areas we strongly recommend to visit both of them and in particular the Busanga Plains (where predators are a constant presence), in the Northern section, and the area close to the Itezhi Tezhi Dam (featuring big herds of elephants and buffaloes).

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LIUWA PLAINS

This remote park, located in the far west of the Country, is “sheer, pristine wilderness” which translates, to the ardent bush-lover, into blissful attraction and priceless reward.

Very few know that Liuwa is home to the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa (usually in November).

Though technically not a “proper migration”, in fact more of a congregation of wildebeest that roam from the bordering areas and spread all over the Plains, it can lead to some long game drives in order to find the animals, but coming across a vast herd of blue wildebeest, a prowling wild dog, or a pride of dozing lions in this forgotten piece of Africa is no doubt emotionally very rewarding.

Spotted-hyenas are the undisputed queens of the plains and you will find them in very big clans.

The birdlife is abundant, with thousands of crested cranes and wattle cranes among others species. 

Dramatic storms and lightnings striking down on the horizon, in sheer contrast with the green and gold grasslands, generate spectacular views and fantastic photographic opportunities.

 

KASANKA

This peaceful wilderness sanctuary, located on the south-western edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin, is one of Zambia’s smallest and less known national park. It’s only 450 square Km. but it’s home to a uniquely wide range of animals, especially birds and fish.

Do not expect to see large herds or flocks round every corner, but there is one particular feature that makes this small Park unique:

Each year, October through December, about 10 million straw colored fruit bats (usually known as flying foxes) descend to a tiny patch of swamp forest looking for fruit. This natural phenomenon, happening exclusively in Kasanka, lends itself to some truly astonishing birdlife sightings set against a backdrop of incredibly scenic surroundings and dramatic skies.

Just a couple of hours drive from Kasanka you can find the Bangweulu Wetlands. Embark on the adventure into the Wetlands to track down the prehistoric-looking, and really rare to spot, Shoebill stork. Roam about the Shoebill’s environment and if you get lucky enough to cross paths with this incredible creature, witness the unique behavior of this curious giant, while adventuring through the intricate habitat that it calls home. A truly unique experience!

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VICTORIA FALLS

There is no question that the Victoria Falls are a scenic wonder. The magnificence of the mighty Zambezi tumbling into a pitch dark, rocky, hundred meters deep gorge, is astonishing to say the least. Should you visit the falls at peak flow, you will also feel the ground trembling under your feet. The “thundering and smoldering cloud” rising from the falls can be seen from kilometers away and it creates gorgeous rainbows and a very high level of moisture that gives rise to the extraordinary ‘rainforest’ of verdant vegetation which thrives along the rim of the gorge, opposite the waterfall. 

This is an Adventure Destination, and thrilling activities await you: bungee jumping, rafting, canoeing in the rapids or, if you are the courageous type of person, try a Gorge Swing or a Flying Fox across the gorge; the Devil’s Swimming Pool and Livingstone Island Tour is an exhilarating and memorable Experience. This activity is only available on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. Of course, lovely cruises on the Zambezi, classic tours of the Falls and scenic flights are the most common and much appreciated activities. To discover everything about Vic Falls please contact us through email.

WILDLIFE

A huge diversity of antelopes can be found in Zambia. Some of them are common everywhere such as: impala, bushbuck, duiker, eland, kudu and waterbuck (close to water areas). Some others are mostly seen in specific areas: wildebeest is quite common everywhere in small numbers, except in Liuwa Plains where thousands of them roam around throughout November.

The small oribi and the beautiful reedbuck are commonly seen both in Liuwa and Kafue. Pukus usually prefer to live in the Luangwa and Zambesi Valley but you will also find them in Kafue. Sable and Roan can be seen in Kafue, though they are not so common; but if you want to try your luck and have a chance to spot them, this is the place to be. Sitatungas prefer the North area of Kafue (Busanga Plains) and Kasanka National Park. Tsessebe is usually seen in the Bangweulu Swamp region, together with lechwe.

Buffalo, a cattle-like ungulate can be spotted in big herds (up to 1 thousand) in Luangwa and Kafue.

A particular and endemic subspecies of giraffe, the Thornicrofts Giraffe is present in large numbers in Luangwa Valley. Giraffe can also be seen in Lower Zambezi but it’s absent in other areas like Kafue or Liuwa.

Zebra can almost be seen  in every Park but it’s particularly common in South Luangwa and Liuwa.

A healthy population of elephants can be found in Zambia; you can see them in big numbers in Kafue, Luangwa and Lower Zambesi.

Hippos are plentiful in Zambia’s many waterways and often groups of over 60 can be seen in one spot, especially along the Luangwa River where the stunning official count is 48 hippos per kilometer of river!

Cheetahs are present in the larger National Parks, though very scarce and not often seen. Kafue and Liuwa offer the best opportunities to spot them.

Spotted-hyenas are common in Kafue and Luangwa but your best chances are in Liuwa where you can find very big clans.

Leopard is common everywhere but the Mfuwe area of the South Luangwa National Park is well known for its frequent leopard sightings. Lower Zambezi is also a good Park for leopard spotting.

Lions are found in large numbers in all the major Parks of Zambia; South Luangwa, Kafue, North Luangwa, and Lower Zambezi.

All the small carnivores can be found in every major park. Wildcat, caracal, serval (plentiful in Kafue), genet, civet, honey badger, mongoose and jackal just to name a few.

Wild dogs are present but not really a common sight. A big pack of dogs is usually seen in South Kafue close to the Dam.

Primates: bush baby, vervet and baboons are present in large numbers all over Zambia.

Crocodiles are very prolific along most of Zambia’s rivers, lakes and dams.

Each year, October through December, about 10 million straw colored fruit bats (usually known as flying foxes) can be seen in Kasanka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIRDLIFE

Zambia is a well known paradise for birdwatchers.

So far 740 species have been recorded here.

To a large extent Zambia’s avifauna is that of the Central African Plateau and depending on the kind of vegetation and geographic structure of the area different species of birds can be found.

Among them we can mention the rare Shoebill Stork (in the Bangweulu Wetlands),  Southern Crested Cranes and Wattled Cranes, Lapped Faced, Hooded and Cape Vultures. Any kind of raptors you can think of (from Martial Eagle to Lesser Kestrel) and all the colorful ones (from Lilac Breasted Roller to Carmine Bee Eater).

VISA

Visitors coming from countries which need a visa to Zambia (just check the official page) will need to pay a fee for their visa when they arrive at the port of entry, whether it is at the land border or at the airport. There are credit card facilities (even though we strongly advise you to bring some cash along, in USD) at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (Lusaka), Harry Mwanga International Airport / Livingstone Airport (Livingstone), and at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (Ndola), so you will be able to use your MasterCard, Visa, Maestro and American Express cards to pay for your Zambia’s visa.

A single entry Visa costs 50 $, while a double entry Visa is 80 $.

You can also apply for your visa online: follow this link

Or visit the Zambian Embassy in your Country in time before your scheduled departure.

MALARIA AND VACCINATIONS

Malaria is endemic in Zambia all throughout the year; the wet season ( October through May ) being the most risky time, for obvious reasons.

In some remote areas the tse-tse fly is still present.

It is essential to take all possible precautions to prevent mosquito bites, also in low risk areas, with suitable clothes, repellent,  mosquito nets.

Please go to your travel clinic in time before your departure, in order to have the appropriate suggestion for your specific case from a specialized doctor, who may prescribe prophylactic tablets to prevent malaria.

Be also aware of the fact that malaria can be contracted also if under prophylactic tablet, so in case  of symptoms like headache, muscular and joint pain, fever, shacking chills and in some cases nausea, diarrhea and fatigue consult a doctor immediately and  advice you travelled in malaria risk areas.

Symptoms usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite, even if some kind of infection can appear up to 4 years after the original bite and malaria tablets may delay the appearance of symptoms.

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Yellow fever vaccine is not required for most travelers to Zambia. However, you might consider this vaccine if you are staying a long time or will be heavily exposed to mosquitoes.

Country entry requirement: The government of Zambia requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (this does not include the US – see complete list: Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission.)

CURRENCY

Zambian currency is the Zambian Kwacha (ZMK).

You can change some money into Kwatcha before your departure, but we suggest you to bring USD, always changed before your departure.

ELECTRICAL PLUGS

In Zambia the power sockets are of type C, D and G. Check out the following pictures.

(We strongly recommend to bring a universal adaptor.)

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May to October

is the best time to visit Zambia; being the dry season the majority of tourists will be visiting Victoria Falls during this time of the year leaving national parks and game reserves almost fully vacant.

October might be scorching hot in most of the Parks, but from a photographic point of view, Sept. and Oct. remain our favorite months to capture wildlife through our cameras.

Skies are clear blue and no rain will normally fall. In October the scarce water sources will force animals to gather at the few waterholes ( except along the Zambesi; still the waterholes around the river will be equally crowded ) and will offer the best photographic opportunities.

November is still a good month but temperatures could rise and become quite trying; chances of rain showers are not so slim and the rain could provide some relief and guarantee spectacular skies.

November to April

is the rainy season and  many camps could be closed.

During this time of the year, with regard to game viewing, the calving season and bird-watching offer great opportunities. The worst inconvenience is the extremely high rate of humidity.

As usual, in the green season, animals are harder to spot but the reward might be worth all the while.

Victoria Falls

belong to a league of their own since they rely on the water level to astonish their visitors. They might be on water shortage from September/October until February, with water rising slowly, reaching its peak around May- June. When at its fullest, the sprays of these mighty falls can be so strong and overpowering as to obscure the view of much of the Falls, leaving the viewers completely drenched. On the other hand, during the low water season, some special activities will be available on the Zambian side, like swimming in the Devil’s pools during a visit at Livingston Island.

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