Zambia is the undiscovered treasure trove of Africa, with extraordinary natural beauty and some of the most pristine wilderness areas on the African continent. It was here that the concept of walking safaris originated as the perfect way to enjoy the rich flora and fauna of Zambia’s 19 national parks. The country offers an impressive diversity as well as large concentrations and numbers of game. Birdlife is particularly prolific with 740 bird species found.
The best time for game viewing in Zambia is the cooler dry season from autumn to spring (May – October). Temperatures during the wet summer months can be uncomfortably hot and many game lodges close.
Walking safaris or wilderness trails are a focus of tourism in many parks, pioneered in Zambia in the 1950s by renowned conservationist Norman Carr, who believed that the best way to experience the wilderness was to walk it. He also understood that the future of wildlife and their habitats was dependent on the support and involvement of the people living around those habitats, and that therefore they needed to benefit directly from conservation.
Game-viewing safaris in the parks are exceptionally rewarding. Although human settlement and strictly controlled hunting are permitted in the GMAs, these zones extend the range through which wild animals can roam freely, and act as buffer zones so that large areas of adjoining parks remain pristine wilderness, sheltering a high diversity and concentration of wildlife and 740 bird species. These protected areas are supported by the country’s plentiful water resources.
Zambia is landlocked, but who needs the sea in a country blessed with vast lakes, majestic rivers and tumbling waterfalls? The scenic Zambezi, Africa’s fourth-longest river, arises in northwestern Zambia and flows south through the Barotse Floodplains to form the border with Zimbabwe. As it meanders along the plateau, the river is laced with islands and channels, and abundant wildlife wanders the banks. It drops spectacularly at the Victoria Falls and after flowing through the hydroelectric dam of Kariba, it is joined by Zambia’s other great rivers, the Kafue and the Luangwa, before flowing east to the Indian Ocean. The southernmost part of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest and second-deepest lake, dips into Zambia’s northeast. Not far to the west lies wild Lake Mweru, and Lake Kariba, the biggest man-made lake in Africa curves along the border east of Victoria Falls. Lake Bengweulu and man-made Lake Itezhi-Tezhi occupy the central interior.
Here is a twist on the classic African safari: in motorboats, houseboats, kayaks and mokoros (traditional dugout canoes), you can explore these beautiful lakes and waterways, enjoying glorious sunrises and sunsets (and sundowners) and gasping at the sheer diversity of Zambia’s wildlife.
Although Zambia boasts 17 significant waterfalls, most fade into insignificance against the spectacular Victoria Falls, with its plume of spray visible for miles around. The world’s biggest waterfall is astonishing at any time of the year, and this World Heritage Site combines with game parks and an exciting array of activities to make the area the centre of tourism in Zambia.