Today (November 25, 2019): Top 10 best things to see & do in Zambia.
Zambia is the undiscovered treasure trove of Africa. It shelters extraordinary natural beauty and is one of the most pristine and unspoiled wildlife havens on the continent. Visitor numbers are small and the country’s vast areas of pristine wilderness have remained unchanged for millennia. The opportunity to explore these areas and see the wildlife without sharing the experience with many others is a privilege that’s hard to find these days. Zambia is also a diverse nation comprised of myriad tribes, each of which speaks its own language, in addition to one of the seven official languages, including English. The Zambians are a greatly happy and friendly people who welcome visitors to their beautiful home. Here’s my compilation of the top 10 things to see & do in Zambia.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Leave a comment.
10. GO WHITEWATER RAFTING ON THE ZAMBEZI RIVER
Considered one of the greatest white water rafting experiences on the planet, Batoka Gorge provides one of the most intense sensory thrills imaginable. Its 23 whitewater rapids and striking scenery deep within the sheer black cliffs afford the adrenaline junkie a wild roller-coaster ride along a route carved over millenia by the Great Zambezi. The rapids are run in large rubber rafts launched from just below Victoria Falls. When the river is high ( March to July) only the last 13 rapids can be attempted. Descend deep into the craggy canyon and hang on for a wild ride as you set off on a fully guided river rafting adventure in the domain of the river god Nyaminyami.
9. OBSERVE ABUNDANT BIRDLIFE AT LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK
This pristine wilderness in Zambia’s far west is a prime destination for migrating species, with massive flocks of birds observed in the skies above Liuwa between May and July. When the seasonal floods fill the pans to brimming point, bird watchers will delight in spotting a variety of notable species, from white bellied bustards and crowned cranes to sooty chats, fish eagles and woodland kingfishers. Liuwa features a variety of birding habitats, with the plains dotted with woodland that creates shelter for a number of species. The dramatic storms and lightning rising up on the horizon, contrasting with the green and gold grasslands, create spectacular views and fantastic photographic opportunities.
- Recommended lodge: Time + Tide Lewanika
8. ENJOY A TRADITIONAL HIGH TEA AT THE ROYAL LIVINGSTONE HOTEL
Take some time for a charming afternoon ritual from a bygone era as you enjoy a traditional high tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel (managed by Anantara). Named after a legendary African explorer, the Royal Livingstone Hotel captures the grace and elegant of the Victorian era. With the rhythmic rumble of Victoria Falls in the distance, settle down on an expansive sun deck and sample a selection of fragrant tea blends from around the world, accompanied by a delectable range of cakes, confectioneries and savory treats. Pause every so often to drink in the beautiful view, but don’t get so distracted that you forget to try the hotel’s famous carrot cake or utterly delicious eight-textured chocolate torte.
- Hotel wesbite: Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara
7. SEE ZAMBIA’S LAST REMAINING RHINOS IN MOSI-OA-TUNYA NATIONAL PARK
Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Victoria Falls (more on that below) and stretches for about 12 km (7,5 mi) up the Zambezi River above the Falls. The National Park offers scenic game viewing, including the opportunity of seeing the country’s only white rhinos, as well as elephant, giraffe, zebra and buffalo. Lazy pods of hippo and gap-toothed crocodiles line the banks of the Zambezi, while a variety of bird species flitters through the riverside thickets. With its beautiful views over the river, Mosi-Oa-Tunya is the ideal destination for anyone wanting to encounter Africa’s more plentiful wildlife species against a scenic backdrop.
6. TAKE A BOAT CRUISE IN LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
The spectacular Lower Zambezi National Park spans 4,092 sq km (1,580 sq mi) of pristine wilderness. It is situated adjacent to Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools Reserve, creating a giant expanse of protected wilderness, and boasts breathtaking vistas of the Zambezi River, as well as lush riverine surrounds. One of the highlights here is to slowly navigate the pristine waters of the Zambezi River on a tranquil boat cruise that unveils a wonderful tapestry of riverine vegetation and exceptional wildlife. It is not uncommon to see enormous herds of elephant along the riverbanks, as well as leopard, buffalo and lion. As the day draws to a close, raise your glass from a sandbank in the middle of the river and toast to another adventure-filled day in Africa.
- Recommended lodge: Time + Tide Chongwe Suites
5. SOAR SILENTLY OVER KAFUE NATIONAL PARK’S WILDERNESS IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
Established as a National Park in the 1950’s by the legendary Norman Carr, Kafue is one of the most remote, largest, and little-known safari spots in Africa. In Kafue’s northwest corner lies the Busanga Plains, a vast mosaic of grassy seasonal floodplains that extend to the horizon. This area is only open in the dry season (June to October), as floodwaters submerge Kafue in the wetter months, preventing access. When the floods recede, Busanga turns into a mecca for wildlife and birds. A wonderful experience is a hot balloon safari over Kafue’s magical landscapes, spotting a plethora of wildlife roaming below. After landing, celebrate your adventure with a delicious champagne breakfast!
4. EXPERIENCE AFRICA’S SECOND LARGEST WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
Boasting one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, Liuwa Plain was proclaimed a protected area in the early 1880s by the head of the Lozi tribe, King Lewanika. Remote and wild, Liuwa is the rarely visited site of Africa’s second largest wildebeest migration. In November, massive herds of the animals move between the park’s various pans in search of water and grazing, accompanied by herds of zebra, as well as tsessebe and lechwe antelope. The hyena is the king of the predators at Liuwa and you can see clans of up to 50. Cheetah and wild dog are also encountered. While the park’s declining lion population was documented in ‘The Last Lioness’, the reintroduction of new blood has seen the first cubs born at Liuwa for over a decade.
- Recommended lodge: Time + Tide Lewanika
3. STAY AT ONE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA’S MOST EXCLUSIVE SAFARI LODGES
Situated on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River and designed by award-winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, Time + Tide Chinzombo is Zambia’s most exclusive hotel. Six beautiful and wildly luxurious villas combine a modern architectural feel with natural materials such as leather, reeds and canvas. Each villa boasts its own private plunge pool and is situated on an elevated deck that boasts views of the tranquil river and the abundant wildlife that frequents its banks. A winding path connects the villas with a shared lounge and dining area set in the shade of msikizi trees. A boat ride across the river gives guests direct access into the game rich Luangwa National Park.
2. GET UP CLOSE WITH WILDLIFE ON A WALKING SAFARI IN SOUTH LUANGWA
South Luangwa National Park is known as the birthplace of walking safari and there are few better places in Zambia to try this exhilarating adventure. With large areas that are completely inaccessible by road, you are virtually guaranteed not to see anything but wildlife when exploring the park on foot. Elephant, lion, wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe and puku are just some of the game you may see. Once you’ve approached a hundred-strong herd of buffalo on foot, game viewing from a vehicle may never provide quite the same thrill. With a walking safari you also get a completely different perspective and learn to appreciate many of the smaller things not easily viewable from a vehicle. Engage all your senses as you smell, feel, touch and hear the African bush!
1. EXPLORE VICTORIA FALLS, THE LARGEST WATER FALL IN THE WORLD
Spanning nearly two km (over a mi) and dropping 103 m (338 ft) at its highest point, Victoria Falls is the largest curtain of falling water in the world. The immense volume of water that drops over the craggy rocks (500 million liters, or 132 million gallons, per minute at full flow) throws up a cloud of spray that can be seen miles away. So awesome is the noise and mist that the original local name given to the waterfall was Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders”. Discovered by British explorer and missionary David Livingstone in 1855, the falls were renamed in honor of his queen. You can approach the waterfalls by foot, but to get the best impression of its phenomenal size, you need to book a scenic helicopter flight.