Zambia Safaris Overview
Zambia is often referred to as The Real Africa. Of course, all other safari areas are very real too, but Zambian safaris are rightfully distinguished by the expedition of old adventure that they deliver under the care of exceptional guides in out-of-the-way wilderness areas teeming with wildlife. The atmosphere carries back to the camps as well, unlike other Southern Africa destinations there is still a preponderance of bushcamps, small and intimate, roughly half the size of a typical Botswana luxury camp which are considered small anywhere other than Zambia. They retain a rustic charm yet still deliver extreme comfort and pampering service while maintaining a wonderful, on-the-ground connection to the wilderness areas where they are placed.
Zambian guiding standards are rivaled only by Zimbabwe. Problems in Zimbabwe actually led to many guides moving over to Zambia and the result has been exceptional skills cultivated in the local Zambian guides. This top-level standard of guiding is an essential strength of a Zambian safari as the opportunity for diverse activities such as walking and canoeing requires outstanding guiding. This is an excellent destination for active travelers and for those interested in learning all about the ecosystem in addition to viewing megafauna.
South Luangwa is the birthplace of walking safaris and it is a rare treat to walk in areas where animals are habituated to humans on foot. In the Lower Zambezi, river activities add to the adventure with canoeing and power boating. Wildlife viewing is amongst the best on the continent.
Game drives can be very exclusive with very few vehicles, and we have some preferred areas where you can be the only game drive vehicle operating. Night drives are extremely good in the Zambian parks as well. They stay out longer than most other safari destinations, so it isn’t just a drive back to camp after sundowners.
Lastly, Zambia features a lot of smallish independent operations as opposed to larger safari corporations that are dominant in most countries now. That’s a blessing and nowhere else are there so many great operations, each offering their own flavor of accommodation. Many of these owners are very involved in conservation and with the upliftment of local communities, and it is possible to include cultural visits on Zambia safaris to fully round out the experience.
Zambia Safari Regions
- South Luangwa National Park
- Lower Zambezi National Park
- North Luangwa National Park
- Kafue National Park
- Liuwa Plain National Park
- Specialty Parks – Kasanka and the Bangweulu Swamps
- Livingstone (Victoria Falls)
A strength of Zambia safaris is the wide range of high-quality activities available.
Zambia is Africa’s premier country for walking safaris. Walks can be daily from a camp or you can walk a circuit to new camps while the staff moves your luggage. This country also offers outstanding canoeing experiences and safari by boat. In addition, the Lower Zambezi offers excellent fishing opportunities with the sporty tigerfish (strictly catch and release) and bream. Game drives are very good as well and night driving is permitted inside the national parks too. It is possible to arrange high-quality village visits as well for cultural experiences.
Livingstone/Victoria Falls has a huge number of activities from picnics on islands above the Falls to helicopter tours, bungee jumping, and a host of other activities.
When to Go
The dry season from June through October is the common time to visit Zambia. As the dry season progresses, many species are forced toward the permanent water sources and game viewing becomes easier. It also becomes progressively hotter, and the cooler temps of June into August give way. By October, it can be scorching hot. This is the general rhythm, but each park has its own special nuances and some such as Liuwa Plain have very different months to go.
South Luangwa has developed into a year-round destination. Costs go way down outside of the high season and in particular November and May can be outstanding times to get great value with lower pricing, but still, outstanding game viewing. December through April remains an option in South Luangwa, and it is the best time for birds and African wild dogs. Many camps close, and some roads are difficult to navigate, so the game experience is not as strong. However, there are still lots of animals to see, and you can take boat trips and enjoy the park in a different light. Green season is excellent for birders and good for experienced safari goers who want to experience South Luangwa in a very different way.
The high season brings high costs, but the intimate safari camps are typically 20 to 30% less in cost than Botswana during the high season despite often being half the size of a Botswana camp and delivering similar exclusivity of game viewing. High season costs are a little more than our favorite Kenya and Tanzania safari camps, but the gap is fairly close. You often get a more luxurious and intimate experience. Using shoulder times like November can provide tremendous cost-to-quality value for those who are okay with the hot temperatures. We frequently are able to offer free night deals in high season which can be great value as well.