Tour Zambia: All you need to know

As soon as travel opens up in the heart of Africa, Zambia should be on your top pickings to visit first! Here is why we believe you need to Tour Zambia.

Did you know that Zambia has been voted the safest country on the continent? With unspoiled landscapes of indigenous flora and fauna, contrasted against the traditional richness in culture and kindness of local communities, it is in short, an ideal safari destination.

The best place to discover African wilderness in its most primal state.

The map above indicates our top three National Parks to visit, the Victoria Falls and Zambezi River.

Zambia is a landlocked Southern African country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Lusaka is the capital. The estimated population of 2019 Zambia stands at 18.14 million.

Hunter-gatherers, known as the Khoisans inhabited the area for thousands of years, making it the culturally rich and diverse heart of Africa. Even Zambia’s name is of significance, derived from the formidable Zambezi River which flows throughout the country.

African leopard in tree: zambia

Interested? Read on…

Why Zambia?

History & Culture

Wildlife

National Parks

Favourite tours

Summary

Why tour Zambia?

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

Blessed with awe-inspiring natural wonders, an abundance of wildlife, huge water bodies and vast open spaces, Zambia offers unforgettable holidays exploring the real Africa. Zambia boasts mighty rivers, five huge lakes and 17 waterfalls, including Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the natural world.

All that water sustains myriad wildlife in a variety of ecosystems. Zambia is the land of the legendary walking safari, pioneered here. Tour Zambia on foot through the bush on foot is a profoundly intimate experience. Acknowledged as one of the safest countries in the world to visit.

We have partnered with Absolute Zambia Safaris as our local experts from Zambia whose destination manual will offer customized experiences of Zambia culture and wildlife for all. For more information about this tour operator click here.

History

Khoisans inhabited the area of modern Zambia until 300 AD, when advanced groups migrated to the area and displaced them. Bantu immigrants arrived in the 12th century. The Tonga people were among them and were the first to settle the area.

The Nkoya also arrived during the expansion and were followed by a larger influx in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The Nsokolo people settled the Mbala district in the early 1700s. In the 1800s, the Ngonui and Sotho peoples came from the south.

By the late 1800s, most of the Zambian people were established.The earliest European to visit the area was Francisco de Lacerda in the late 1700s. Other Europeans followed, including David Livingstone. He was the first from Europe to see the Zambezi River’s waterfalls, which he named Victoria Falls.

Culture

With over 70 ethnic groups, Zambian Culture is highly diverse. Each cultural group is acknowledged and celebrated each year in colorful festivals. Before the colonial days, Zambia’s different ethnic groups lived in their own communities, each with their own culture.

Much of that has changed with urban sprawl and influence from western culture, but the people of Zambia still preserve their traditions and celebrate over 20 ceremonies and cultural festivals each year in the different parts of the country.

Some of them are small closed ceremonies that include a group of young men or women, others involve an entire village, and then there are some which are open and attract large crowds in the tens of thousands and even include the head of state.

You can expect to find singing, drums and lots of dancing at these large festival. Respect is of utmost importance as a foreigner in spaces of local cultural practice and when entering community spaces.

Wildlife

Predators abound in Zambia. Zambia is home to the big 5 of Africa. Kafue and South Luangwa are some of the best places in Africa to see leopard, large prides of lion and wild dog.

Tour Zambia with wildlife like this buck

Kafue is also home to many cheetah. Other carnivores include caracal, serval and jackal. With Hydrosystems being an integral factor of Zambia’s geography, hippos are largely populated, congregating in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks.

Lower Zambezi accommodates large herds of elephant and buffalo along the riverbanks and wildebeest migrate the northern part of South Luangwa, Zambia’s parks are home to at 14 species of antelope, rare to the subcontinent region.

These species are commonly spotted on game drives, along with the guaranteed sightings of zebra, giraffe and warthogs. Baboons and vervet monkeys are entertaining and accommodating of tourists too, and night apes, bushbabies and hyena are often seen on night drives.

Tour Zambia through their wildlife, birdlife included, is prolific, offering up to 400 species for spectacle.

Wildlife Conservation

Zambia plays a critical role in the quest to protect Africa’s last remaining pristine tracts of wildlife habitat. Yet there is a clear relationship between its widespread poverty and environmental degradation, due to a codependency between communities and access to and distribution of natural resources to maintain livelihood.

Tour Zambia: A hippopotamus in a lake

Deforestation, erosion, air and water pollution and poaching are major contributors. Therefore Zambia is nonetheless committed to conservation, and the Zambia Wildlife Authority seeks to effectively manage parks and reserves through community-based approaches and public-private partnerships that will improve quality of life in and near protected areas, maintain sustainable biodiversity and combat decline in wildlife population/ threat.

Zambia advocates wildlife-based tourism as a vehicle for rural development and livelihoods for local communities. Known as Eco tourism. Kafue has received special government attention focused on restoring its elephant herds, which are rebounding after being depleted through poaching in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Top 3 National Parks

Zambia proudly boasts 12 beautiful national parks, however we have three favorites for you to consider: Vast, unspoiled South Luangwa is Zambia’s premier safari park, one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.

Tour Zambia safari scene

The Luangwa River is the most intact river system in Africa and the park’s lifeblood. Dense concentrations of animals congregate around its owbow lagoons, including hippo, elephant and buffalo. The walking safari originated here, and guiding is superb. Lower Zambezi National Park offers spectacular opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels.

Kudu and waterbuck hop between islands; lion and leopard flourish. The Busanga floodplains in the northern part of Kafue National Park draw stunning numbers of animals. And no Zambia safari is complete without a visit to spellbinding Victoria Falls…

#1 South Luangwa park

9000 square kilometres. Eastern Province Zambia. Popular since opening 1972. Open game viewing/ Day & night safaris. While you may see giraffes in other parts of Africa, seeing a species that is endemic to a certain country will make you feel special. The Thornicroft giraffe, which is also known as the Rhodesian giraffe, resides only in the South Luangwa National Park. 

Accommodation Mfuwe Lodge & Bilimungwe Bush Camp

Activities: Accessing the heart of the park, at peak flood time from January to March is quite an adventure and activities will consist of walking, driving, and boating. Most of the animals in this area remains at the park all year, and so the game viewing is always excellent and reliable though it is more of a birder paradise during the time of the year.

#2 Kafue national park

Western Zambia. Oldest and largest national park in Zambia.Increased protection from the Zambian Wildlife Authority due to larger visitor numbers after infrastructural development.

Accomodation Makumbi Safari Lodge

Activities: Boat cruises, sunrise drives, game and walking safari, fishing trips & community school visits

Makumbi Safari partners with two bushcamps: Busanga Plains Camps and Busanga Safari Tents

#3 Lower Zambezi national Park

South Eastern Zambia, set against the Zambezi river borders, occupying 120 km of river length and boasting islands, lagoons and flood plains which popularly attract wildlife, lies the Lower Zambezi National park. 50 species of mammal and 40 species of birds, bring animal enthusiats from all over the world. The Lower Zambezi National Park was recently listed as the world’s first carbon neutral park, which means that it completely offsets its greenhouse gas emissions generated from tourism activities. The park offers exceptional birdlife, as well as mammal sightings of lion, buffalo, hippo, and monkeys among others.

Accommodation: Chiawa Camp

Activities: Activities range from water-based activities such as canoeing, river cruises and fishing to game drives, night drives and walking. Combination of events can be customized as per individual request. Usually a full day activities with lunch on the banks of the Zambezi River.

Waterfalls

Seventeen magnificent waterfalls, apart from the spectacular Victoria Falls, provide adventure seekers with the opportunity to venture into the remote undeveloped rural areas of beauty and community atmosphere. Spectacular daily sunsets are a granted feat.

Victoria falls in zambia

Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring spectacle, standing the test of time on the Zambezi River. This river acts as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms Victoria Falls is known as one of the world’s 7 wonders. A must- visit in someone’s lifetime.

Lakes & Rivers

In Zambia you can find some of the most majestic rivers in the world.

The Zambezi River

The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa.

Tour Zambia on the Zambezi river

For about 500 kilometres it serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe thundering over the Victoria Falls and through the narrow, steadily deepening Batoka Gorge, providing a fantastic playground for white-water rafting, kayaking, river boarding and jet boating.

Its unique value is that it is less developed than other rivers regarding human settlement and many areas along its banks have even been granted protected status. The Lower Zambezi National Park flanks the river on the Zambian side and Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean side. This whole area of the Zambezi supports one of Africa’s most important wilderness areas as it provides sustenance to a diverse array of game, birdlife and fish species.

Hippo, Nile crocodiles and monitor lizards, are commonly found along many of the calm stretches of the river. Species of bird, like heron, pelican, egret and African fish eagle are in abundance. Along the bans, woodlands accommodate many large animals, such as buffalo, zebra, giraffe, elephant.

Habitat and ecosytem to hundreds of endemic fish species such as the Cichlids, catfish, tigerfish and yellowfish, The Zambezi river supports a large chain of life and in turn, food supply and livelihood. Home to even the Zamezi shark, otherwise known as the Bull shark.After having provided power, food and transport for many people, and a home for untold numbers of wildlife. The river ends its journey through Mozambique and out towards the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi’s is globally renowned for its Victoria Falls, but offers much more to visitors. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, and Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia. Dams along the river also generate hydroelectric power to Zambia and neighboring countries.

Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba is Zambia’s undiscovered Riveira offers spectacle for aventure seekers or holiday makers and animal enthusiasts! With breathtaking views, stunning sunsets, great fishing, boating opportunities, water sports and moderate temperature year round, this location has to be added to your itinerary!

Tour Zambia: visit Lake kariba. Lake kariba and elephant

This is Africa’s largest man made dam, 226km long and in places up to 40 km wide. It provides considerable electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe and supports a thriving commercial fishing industry. Hard to believe at times that Lake Kariba is a man made dam and not in fact an ocean due to its size and capacity.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika in northern Zambia is the world’s second deepest lake. With over 350 different species of fish and clear waters, it is the perfect place to snorkel and scuba dive.

Lake Tanganyika Zambia

The longest freshwater lake in the world, featuring islands & diverse wildlife including crocodiles.

Cities

Lusaka has rapidly developed. New buildings are going up everywhere and many chain stores and shopping malls are on the rise. Viewed from the villages, Lusaka is the prosperous capital which continues to entice urbanization with promises of better opportunities.

tour zambia cities

The markets are a hive of activity as the thousands of stalls are set up, upgraded and cleared away every day. A myriad of informal traders, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruitsellers and rows and rows of “salaula” which are stalls of discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale. Lusaka is one of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa. It’s population almost trebled in the immediate post-independence era and continues to grow daily.  It is a sprawling, metropolis with many multi-storey buildings, high-walled suburbs and busy shanty towns.

Development has brought together people of many nationalities. This makes it a bustling center for economic, political and cultural activities. The city lies at the junction of the main highways to the north, east, south and west.

Tour Zambia: Our Favourite Tours

Zambia, in the warm heart of Africa, you will find some of the finest Safari experiences on the planet. Including face to face encounters with Nature at its most wild.

Starry night at bush camps in Zambia

Spectacular waterways provide adrenaline-thrills or a leisurely playground of activities for all ages.

Canoe Tour Zambezi :

What to expect on a canoe safari: Encountering safari game such as elephants, hippos and crocodiles in the water. A canoe on the water won’t disturb the buffalo, kudu and eland, and predators including lions and other large mammals can be seen along the river banks and shorelines. You’ll find a fantastic array of resident animals and birdlife through the season. The October to March period that has the most migrant animals travelling through the area.

15 day Canoe safari in South Luangwa National Park

10 day Zambezi and Kafue National Park Canoe Safari

4 day Canoe experience at Lower Zambezi Valley

Guided safari Walks:

An emotive and exciting experience to connect with wildlife in an intimate setting, from a safe distance. Although you may be able to travel further in a vehicle, on foot you can reach places that a 4×4 can’t. You will also be closer the tapestry of smells, sounds and signals of the bush, nothing compares to personal interaction with the wildlife without the constraint that vehicles create.

Walking Safari options: Mobile walking safaris These are multi-day bush walking adventures, and you are immersed in the wilderness day and night. Temporary base camps are set up in different spots each night. Bush walks These are short, guided nature walks while staying at the lodges and are ideal if your health or vacation time don’t extend to a full walking safari.

5 day Luangwa walking Safari

8 day walking safari South Luangwa Zambia

Safari Drives:

In tasteful bush style, head out in the early mornings and late afternoons for some spectacular game viewing from the comfort of an open vehicle. Your game guide and tracker will ensure you don’t miss a thing, and will reveal fascinating insights about all you see, from the tiniest insect, the vegetation and the seasons. A spectacular experience of close up wildlife in their natural habitat.

8 Day Family safari Holiday

10 Day safari experience

Bushcamp Tours:

A brilliant way to indulge in a taste of the African Safari experience. A success since pioneered hundreds of years ago. Witness the unspoiled and untouched landscapes of Zambia, one of the only countries to offer such an authentic experience.

5 day South Luangwa Bush Camping

Community Outreach:

Project Luangwa

Absolute Zambia Safaris also offers unique and customized tour experiences aside from their package deals.

Summary

With its warm and vibrant, diversified culture and welcoming hospitality, world wonders and cascading landscapes of Safari wildlife, Zambia offers a unique and unforgettable experience of a lifetime!

Zambia

If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at our African Safaris Blog and lion walk guide Blog too. We hope that you, too can tour Zambia in the near future!

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