7 Things to Do in Zambia
Featured destinations: Zambia, Victoria Falls
Published 12 April 2016
Little-known Zambia may not be top of everyone’s list for a safari holiday, as it’s usually eclipsed by the more famous and more easily reached wildlife destinations of South Africa and Kenya. But make the effort to reach this offbeat country and you’ll be rewarded with vast wildernesses, diverse wildlife and some thrilling adventure sports that give New Zealand a run for its money. To start you off, here are seven of our favourite things to do in Zambia:
Known in the local language as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the ‘Smoke that Thunders’, Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. You’re spoilt for choice of how to see this raging torrent: bungee it, zip-line it, walk it, fly over it, raft it or simply look at it. Come in low season to jump into the Devil’s Pool and balance precariously on its edge, or even visit at night during a full moon to see the fabled lunar rainbow. However you see this mighty waterfall, it’s a truly awesome sight.
Kafue National Park
Stretching for 8,649 square miles, Kafue National Park is larger than Wales, and even richer in flora and fauna. Lions and leopards prowl the forests in search of the various antelope, zebra and wildebeest, while hippos, crocodiles and elephants are often seen by the river banks. Luckily, being less well known than Zambia’s South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks, Kafue receives relatively few visitors, so you feel like you have the animals to yourself. Get up early and hop in a Jeep or take a boat trip on the Kafue River for your best chances of spotting the game.
For a more in-depth look at Zambia’s wildlife, try a walking safari in South Luangwa National Park. The guides here are some of the continent’s most knowledgeable, and joining one for an intimate look at the insects and plants beneath your feet is one of the most rewarding ways to see the bush. On foot you’ll pay more attention to the smaller things such as footprints and droppings, and you might have a close encounter with some of the larger animals as well.
Raft the Zambezi
Between July and February, lower water levels on the Zambezi River create the ideal conditions for white water rafting. Not for the fainthearted, this is one of the world’s best rafting spots, so fasten your seatbelt for a thrilling ride down Class 5 rapids with fear-inducing names like The Washing Machine, Terminator I and II and Oblivion. Rafting trips usually take a full day and include lunch. Come prepared to get very wet; flipping rafts are not uncommon.
Kasanka National Park
If you time it right, you can watch one of nature’s most fascinating spectacles in Kasanka National Park. Every October, straw-coloured fruit bats start arriving in search of ripening palm fruit and flowers, reaching numbers of around eight million by mid-November. At dusk, you’ll start to hear their incessant chatter and, before long, you’ll see the bats heading out in search of food, the entire colony leaving in a steady stream, like a ribbon of black twisting across the sky. Best enjoyed with a gin and tonic, this nightly show lasts around half an hour and can be viewed throughout November and December.
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Who would have thought that in the middle of the wild Zambian bush, among rolling granite hills and emerald forests, would be a 1920s English country mansion? Translating as ‘Lake of the Royal Crocodiles’, Shiwa Ng’andu is where British pioneer Stewart Gore-Browne decided to build a stately home, after finding land too expensive in England.
You can visit the 24,710-acre estate, whose lakes and forest are home to thirty different animal species, head out on game drives, horse rides or take boat trips on the lake. You can even stay here – the mansion has five cosy rooms for guests, each decorated with original furnishings and open fires. Around 800 miles from Lusaka, Shiwa Ng’andu is best reached by charter flight, although a 10-hour drive is possible too.
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Skip Zambia’s capital Lusaka and head instead for friendlier Livingstone, chock-full of activities and attractions. Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Livingstone combines the Edwardian architecture of a former British colonial city with the laid-back charm of a quiet South African town. Its proximity to Victoria Falls makes it a popular spot for thrill-seekers, while those looking for a quieter stay can shop for handmade wares and sample local flavours in town. For a more sedate activity dine onboard the Royal Livingstone Express as it travels across the famous Victoria Falls Bridge or don your finery and take afternoon tea at the rather swanky Royal Livingstone Hotel.
Head to Livingstone and tour Victoria Falls with our Kruger, Cape Town & Falls Journey.