Arguably the most awe-inspiring waterfall in the world, Zambia can add to its list of natural riches a share of the Victoria Falls accessed from Livingstone. No visitor will want to miss the chance to see this iconic natural wonder. Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya - the smoke that thunders – this is an apt description of the massive plume of spray that is thrown up as the waters of the Zambezi River plunge over a sheer rock face that is more than a mile wide.
The entire Victoria Falls area is one of great natural beauty, from the magnificent falls themselves to the majestic Zambezi River and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park that stretches for over seven miles along its banks. There is a good choice of places to stay in and around Livingstone, with everything from 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels, to upmarket lodges that border the national park or occupy tiny private upstream islands. A huge array of exciting leisure activities are also on offer and it is no surprise many visitors choose to spend several days exploring this region. A helicopter flight over Victoria Falls is a real highlight as it gives you the full impact of this astounding natural wonder. White-water rafting on the rapids below the falls and bungee jumping are two unforgettable activities for adrenalin junkies. More relaxing options include elephant interactions, river cruises, canoeing, a visit to a cultural village and a tour across the Victoria Falls Bridge to see the falls from the Zimbabwean side.
Downstream from the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba, the Zambezi River enters a more languid stage and is flanked by the Lower Zambezi National Park. Hundreds of hippo wallow in the river’s deeper channels and birdlife is in abundance. The park is predominantly wooded but safari drives over the flood plains and game viewing from the river – either by canoe or motorboat – is superb. Walking safaris are also offered here. Elephant and buffalo can be seen in large numbers at the water’s edge, especially in the dry season, as can zebra, wildebeest, eland, waterbuck and kudu. The park’s main predators are lion, leopard and hyena. Serious fishing enthusiasts will enjoy pitting their wits against the gutsy tiger fish.
South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s safari gem. Surrounded by a mix of woodland and savanna, the meandering Luangwa River with its scenic oxbow lakes, lagoons and channels, supports great herds of elephant, buffalo and antelope including puku, waterbuck and kudu. Rare Thornicroft’s giraffe with their bolder markings are found in the dappled woodland and you may also spot two more endemics, Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra. A total of 60 mammal species make their home in the valley, with the only notable exception being rhino, which have sadly disappeared due to poaching. The key predators are large prides of lion, spotted hyena, wild dog and leopard. Spot lit night drives are permitted in the national park making this an outstanding place to see the nocturnal leopard. With over 400 bird species, including 39 raptors, birding is especially wonderful in the green season between December and March, when plumage is resplendent. Another outstanding natural phenomenon occurs each October, when hordes of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters make their nests in the river cliffs.
Renowned for the supreme quality of the guiding, Zambia’s walking safaris in South Luangwa are rightly world famous. This is a true wilderness experience and nothing gets you closer to the sights and sounds of the bush, or heightens all your senses, more than the chance to feel the African soil beneath your feet and watch game at close quarters. Knowledgeable guides give fascinating insights into the flora and fauna, while experienced armed rangers and scouts accompany all walking excursions. The level of walking involved can depend on personal preference with everything available from a few hours, to an entire trip based on walking, where you stay in tiny remote bush camps. For the truly intrepid traveller, overnight fly camping is an experience not to be missed.
Zambia’s largest reserve, Kafue National Park, was made famous by the legendary Norman Carr who was its first warden. The park encompasses hugely diverse habitats, from woodlands and thickets to floodplains and grassland. The game in Kafue is immensely varied with a number of rare species, but it’s not the place to tick off the big-five in a whirlwind trip. Plains game do well here and resident species include sable, eland and roan. The northern Kafue plains are more open with large herds of Red lechwe and puku that are stalked by the big cats - lion, cheetah and leopard. The endangered wild dog can also be found here. Most Kafue itineraries include a few nights at two to three different camps with game viewing by safari vehicle, on foot or by boat depending on the camp’s location.