With major rivers, natural lakes and vast dams surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation, the Zambian river adventure is the ultimate experience in water safaris. The many river valleys are spectacularly beautiful and are home to a legion of wild beasts and water creatures. The immense waterways are some of the least altered by human infrastructure in the world and have thus maintained a sense of being wild and unknown. With many waterfalls, including the famous Victoria Falls, and a host of national game parks, the Zambian river adventure allows travellers to experience what is at the heart of Africa.
Major Rivers to Explore on your Zambian River Adventure
There are three major rivers to explore on one’s Zambian river adventure – the Zambezi, the Kafue, and the Luangwa – as well as many smaller rivers, lakes, and dams. The Zambezi, which leads to the Victoria Falls, is the most well-known, and people voyage to Zambia from all over the world with the express desire of getting close to the waterfall. Meaning ‘Great River’ in local Tonga, the Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa, and begins as a small meandering spring in the northwest of Zambia’s Mwinilunga District, building force as it traverses temporarily through Angola and then runs back into Zambia as a thundering river. The Zambezi then forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe; plummeting 100-metres down the Victoria Falls and then continuing through Batoka Gorge. The Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall; named the ‘smoke that thunders’ by the local tribes in reference to its ferocity. It is an essential site to visit on one’s Zambian river adventure – not just because it is one of CNN’s Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but because from here adventurers can bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge; go white water rafting on the intense rapids of Batoka Gorge; or abseil downstream from the Falls. The wildlife in this area is abundant – hippo; crocodile; buffalo; zebra; giraffe; and elephant can all be seen on river cruises or walking trails in the region. Tour groups operate a number of thrilling water sports on the Zambezi and the Lake Kariba that it flows into, including jet boating, river boarding, kayaking, and canoeing. Lake Kariba is the largest man-made dam in Africa and is a popular fishing and tourist spot.
The Zambezi is by no means the only river to explore on one’s Zambian river adventure. There are seventeen waterfalls, besides the Victoria Falls, and those specifically interested in these may want to consider a widespread waterfall tour. The Kafue River is the largest and longest river that is entirely confined to Zambia, and transitions between slow flowing, fast running, and fierce rapids – making it the perfect river for a combination of various water sports. The sandy banks of the river offer a unique experience to travellers wanting to observe and photograph large animals, as hippos and crocodiles particularly enjoy sunbathing on these edges. The river runs through the Kafue National Park – one of the twenty national parks in Zambia – and is in a prime position for fishing and boating enthusiasts. The Luangwa Valley is a hotspot for wild animals, and the Luangwa River is populous with hippos and elephants. The North and South Luangwa National Parks flank the river’s bank, allowing travellers a host of accommodation options in the heart of the hive.
There is nothing left to be desired on a Zambian river adventure – every water sport, safari, and cruise imaginable is on offer. Set in the heart of Africa, the experience feels much like exploring a living, breathing organism – this is a place where the rivers are alive and glorifying in their own mystery.