Home of the Walking Safari​ and the Legendary Luangwa

Zambian safaris are rightfully distinguished by the expedition of old adventure delivered under the care of exceptional guides in remote wilderness areas teeming with wildlife. The atmosphere resonates from the camps where, unlike other Southern Africa destinations, there are still a preponderance of bush camps. Small and intimate, the camps are roughly half the size of a typical Botswana luxury camp, which are considered small anywhere other than Zambia. They retain a rustic charm yet deliver extreme comfort and pampering service while maintaining a wonderful connection to the wilderness.
Zambian guiding standards are rivaled only by Zimbabwe. This top-level standard of guiding is an essential strength of a Zambian safari as the activity diversity, such as walking and canoeing, requires additional certifications. This is an excellent destination for active travelers and for those interested in learning all about the ecosystems beyond viewing mega fauna. Zambia’s national parks operate uniquely by allowing the camps located inside the park boundary to offer night drives and walks while self drive vehicles are not permitted, nor can they stay inside the park overnight. Several independent operations in Zambia, as opposed to larger safari corporations that dominate most countries now, each offer their own flavor of accommodation. They remain heavily involved in conservation and community support.
Waterbuck in Lower Zambezi National Park
Leopard in Lower Zambezi National Park
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Zambia Sample Safaris

Relative Cost: The high season brings the highest rates, but the intimate safari camps are typically 20 – 30% less than Botswana during the high season despite often being half the size of a Botswana camp and delivering similar exclusivity of game viewing. Costs reduce outside of the high season, and specifically November and May can be outstanding times to get great value with lower pricing with outstanding game viewing. High season costs are a little more than our favorite Kenya and Tanzania safari camps, but 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 and circuit discounts.

Big Five of Southern Africa

From $7,995 per person Southern Africa is an incredibly diverse region with varying weather, landscapes, cultures, and wildlife. This itinerary covers three major highlights of Southern Africa: The Greater Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta.

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Essential Diversity: River and Desert

From $14,750 per person This safari is designed for the safari connoisseur seeking rarity, exclusivity and luxury along with the full diversity of wildlife. The itinerary includes private guiding and vehicle at both safari camps, offering the ultimate in flexibility and maximizing the opportunities to see wildlife you want to see, while maintaining supreme comfort and luxury.

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Zambia Walking and Waterways Safari

From $8,395 per person Zambian safaris are distinguished by the vintage expedition-style adventure delivered under the care of exceptional guides in remote wilderness areas teeming with wildlife.

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Zambia Safari Regions

South Luangwa National Park

Overview

Considered one of the world’s great wildlife sanctuaries, South Luangwa National Park offers excellent concentration of species around the lagoons and rivers flowing through the park. The Luangwa River is one of the most intact major river systems in Africa and is the life source for this dynamic ecosystem. The South Luangwa is also the origin of walking safaris, and the park maintains its legacy with arguably the best walking safari opportunities anywhere. Most of the camps offer a combination of game drives and walking safaris, or visitors can opt for fully walking safaris with mobile camps set up from point to point.
Walking safari in Zambia
It is a rare treat to walk in areas where animals are habituated to humans on foot. Night drives are extremely good in the South Luangwa as well. They stay out longer than most other safari destinations, so it isn’t just a drive back to camp after sundowners, and the chance to see special nocturnal species is very good. Several camps also offers excellent hides to observe important concentrations of wildlife such as nesting carmine bee eaters, hippo pools, and productive waterholes. This is a useful resource to make the day full of wildlife observation.

Location

South Luangwa National Park is accessed by regional flights to Mfuwe Airport. From Mfuwe, it is another forty minutes to reach the main park entrance while many of the bush camps remain a few hours’ drive further into the park.

Wildlife

The South Luangwa National Park is home to over 60 different animal species and 400 of Zambia’s staggering 732 bird species. It is an excellent location to view the endangered African wild dog and is also home to a unique subspecies of giraffe, the Thornycroft, which has yet to be determined if it genetically identical to the Maasai Giraffe located farther north in Tanzania and Kenya. The park is known for its congregations of hippos in the thousands, good chances of viewing African wild dogs, a resident herd of elephant that wander through the lobby of Mfuwe Lodge in search of ripe mangoes, and the annual breeding season of the carmine bee eaters on the banks of the Luangwa River.
Due to the extensive night drive opportunities, the chances of observing nocturnal species is high, including civet, genet, porcupine, aardvark, honey badger, and leopard.

Best Times 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 as the cooler temps of June into August give way. By October, it can be scorching hot with mid-day highs in the 40’s C / 100’s F.
With the successful conservation efforts of the Zambia Carnivore Programme, wild dog populations are continuing to increase, so while in the past the green season was a time to view the dogs through participation with ongoing research projects, they can now be seen with good probability during the denning season from June to August.
Depending on the interests of the traveler, South Luangwa is certainly a year-round destination. December through April is the best time for birds. 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 to 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.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Overview

Lower Zambezi National Park spans a scenic section of the Zambezi River with only a handful of camps inside the park boundary and lovely views of Chilapira Mountain and the escarpment. With dry riverbeds filled with whitethorn acacias, grasslands framed by forests, and small dambos (ponds) that sustain a lovely variety of species, there is far more to see than just along the Zambezi River. However, there is a primordial draw to the river, a calming presence of tranquil beauty, that offers more than simply wonderful wildlife sightings.
The daily activities are very flexible with a rotating offer of walking safaris, game drives, night drives, boating, fishing, and canoeing. The area is very popular for the fierce tiger fish (strictly catch and release) and bream. The scenery and tranquility lend perfectly to a romantic retreat or relaxing finale, and merits at least three nights in one location. There are two distinct regions in the park that are about an hour’s boat ride from one another, so a week-long trip can connect the two regions without redundancy. There is less biodiversity in the park compared to the South Luangwa and Kafue, but the opportunities to experience intimate, uncrowded sightings with great flexibility are spectacular.

Location

The Lower Zambezi National Park is the natural border of Zambia with Zimbabwe and sits across the river from Mana Pools National Park. The parks are east (downstream) of Lake Kariba Dam, which is the delineation point between the Upper and Lower Zambezi.

Wildlife

Similar to the South Luangwa, the park stands out for its quality night drives and chances to see leopard. It served as the President’s private game reserve until it was gazetted in 1983, however human impact has resulted in some iconic species such as giraffe no longer being present here. Being situated along the Zambezi River allows for excellent observation of wildlife as they quench their thirst in the late afternoon including herds of elephant, buffalo, various plains game, and more. The bird life in the park is also very good.

Best Times to Go

The camps inside of the park are open from May until November. May and June are generally lush with more vegetation to obscure elusive species. In addition, the zebra are usually still in the hills away from the river until later in the dry season. This depends entirely on the amount of rain received in the previous rainy season.
September to November are hot months, but offer the best tiger fishing opportunities.

North Luangwa National Park

Overview

This is the lesser-visited sister park to South Luangwa National Park and offers excellent remote exploration opportunities. Access to the park is highly controlled. It is not open to the public without a special permit, and the small number of camps all cater to the intrepid traveler who seeks to feel immersed in nature. There are very few roads in the park, and the majority of activities are conducted on foot to explore the Luangwa River and its tributaries, such as the Mwaleshi River, which creates productive water holes as the dry season progresses. With the success of North Luangwa Conservation Programme, the park is home to the only population of black rhino in Zambia, which have been reintroduced after the extirpation of rhinos from Zambia in the 80’s—a country which in the 1960’s had the third largest population in Africa.

Location

Similar to the South Luangwa, the North Luangwa sits on the western banks of the Luangwa River. It is bordered to the west by the Muchinga Escarpment. The park is generally accessed by bush flights, which connect from Mfuwe Airport or the 4-hour road transfer from Mfuwe.

Wildlife

The park is known for large buffalo herds and lion prides. Elephant and leopard are not seen as frequently here as they are in the South Luangwa, but the plains game are well represented with better chances to see reedbuck, eland, and hartebeest in this park compared to the South Luangwa. The 400 bird species of the South Luangwa have also been recorded in the North Luangwa.

Best Times to Go

The safari operating season is relatively short from June to October during the dry season. For those wishing to avoid the hotter months, it is best to travel before mid September.

Kafue National Park

Overview

While Kafue national park is massive at 22,400 square kilometers (8,650 square miles), the focal point of the safari experience is within the Busanga Plains, a vast seasonal floodplain resembling the Okavango Delta with papyrus-lined waterways and lilly-filled lagoons. Outside of the Busanga Plains, visitors can find a camp circuit mainly catering to self-drivers, which offers some birding opportunities but otherwise mammal viewing is less productive. As of 2019, the national park will begin a 20-year management contract with African Parks, which with an impressive track record, is expected to greatly increase the successes of antipoaching and wildlife management as the park has been hit hard by poaching over the last several years.

Kafue is Zambia’s oldest and largest national park

Location

The Kafue River basin stretches from Central Zambia almost all the way into the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). It is located in central/western Zambia and is only a 2-hour road transfer from Livingstone. Many travelers opt for scheduled bush flights to reach the park.

Wildlife

Kafue is not a Big Five, “ticking the boxes,” type of destination despite having great biodiversity. This is in part due to the impacts of poaching as well as the landscape. The park is home to the highest volume of ungulate species anywhere south of the Congo Basin. Travelers have the chance to see rare species such as the red lechwe, sitatunga, roan, sable, and blue and yellow-backed duiker. Leopard are also frequently seen and the park is one of the best places to encounter cheetah in Zambia. Kafue also has the largest population of African wild dog in Zambia. With the rich variety of habitats, Kafue is excellent for bird life, and the Busanga Plains are an important site for mixed flocks of crowned cranes and waddled cranes.

Best Times to Go

Because of the higher elevation, Kafue has milder temperatures than other parts of Zambia and is generally cooler in October and November than the Luangwa and Zambezi parks. In the winter months of June to August, Kafue can actually drop below freezing at times.
The park is generally inaccessible during the rainy season months from November to April with only a few camps open year-round. The Busanga Plains are only accessible from July till early November.

Liuwa Plains National Park

Overview

Located in western Zambia, Liuwa Plains is one of Zambia’s best kept secrets within a country of hidden treasures. It is aptly named for its seasonal floodplains that transform annually from vast lagoons into expansive grassland, hosting the second largest migration of wildebeest in Africa as well as incredible birdlife depending on the season. With only one exclusive camp inside the entire national park, it offers Serengeti-like grasslands with unparalleled flexibility and exclusivity. The camp is open from late October through mid-July with differing strengths throughout the seasons based on the focus of birdlife or mammal viewing. With a deep connection to the Zambia Carnivore Programme, the opportunities to view predators such as hyena, lion, and cheetah are very good.
Activities include day and night game drives, walking safaris, canoeing safaris (seasonal), spectacular wildlflower blooms (seasonal), helicopter tours, and fly camping sleepouts. Being the only camp in the national park allows for excellent flexibility.
A visit to Liuwa Plains also provides the opportunity to meet the Lozi people who have their own unique customs and way of life. At the end of the rainy season, the Kuomboka Festival takes place where the Lozi king is paraded off in grand celebration from his palace in the flood plain to higher land. This festival is vulnerable to drought, and has been suspended in years with dry conditions as the 300-year old ceremony requires enough water to move a 50-person canoe.

Location

Liuwa Plains is in the far western region of Zambia on the border with Angola, so far from the Victoria Falls and South Luangwa regions that it is in a different time zone. Travelers who wish to stay at the only lodge inside of the national park, King Lewanika Camp, will fly into the Kalabo Airstrip where they are escorted by helicopter to the camp.

Wildlife

Liuwa Plains suffered greatly during the Angolan civil war, and lions were thought to have been extinguished from the park. One sole female survived, and she was named Lady Liuwa. As the dominant female, she was crucial in the success of the lion reintroduction program, which now has a small but growing lion pride in the park. With such a small lion population, hyena are the supreme predator of Liuwa Plains, and the park is arguably the best place in the world to observe spotted hyena behavior. The Zambia Carnivore Programme’s reserchers and the guides at King Lewanika Camp share sightings updates, which allows for excellent opportunities to encounter other collared species including cheetah and the migrating wildebeest herds. Bird life is excellent, and the park serves as a critical migration site for the mixed flocks of waddled cranes and crowned cranes, which can be seen in huge numbers.

Best Times to Go

Liuwa Plains is a place unto its own. As such, the seasonality of the park does not coincide entirely with other regions. The cross-over month from birdlife to wildebeest migration opportunities is April and May, making this a unique combination for a shoulder season safari. April may allow for the chance to visit during the Kuomboka festival, although timing is dictated by flood levels.

Bangwelu and Kasanka National Park

Overview

The Great Bangwelu Basin is a massive wetland region that includes Lake Bangwelu as well as Kasanka National Park. The basin is fed by 17 rivers, resulting in seasonal flooding that swells and recedes by a span of nearly thirty miles. As such, people have occupied the periphery of the area, but the interior remains untamed wilderness.
One of Zambia’s smallest national parks, Kasanka is visited for one main purpose: the straw-colored fruit bat migration, believed to be the world’s largest mammal migration with up to 10 million bats arriving between November and December annually. Activities in Kasanka National Park include multi-day wilderness walking trails, canoeing, game drives, and witnessing the bat migration from the platform tree hides.
Activities in Kasanka National Park include multi-day wilderness trails, canoeing, game drives, and witnessing the bat migration.

Location

The wetland ecosystem flows across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo in northwestern Zambia. The drive to Kasanka National Park from Lusaka is approximately 6 hours. Bangwelu is another 4 hours. It is possible to plan a visit to Kasanka and Bangwelu by charter flight, which allows travelers to combine the area with the Luangwa Parks.

Wildlife

While the main attraction of Kasanka remains the straw-colored fruit bat migration, the arrival of migratory birds at the onset of the rainy season makes this a great park to enjoy birding as well as a unique Congo-like tropical ecosystem where other wildlife sightings include sitatunga, puku, elephants, and monkeys. Over 400 bird species have been recorded at Kasanka.
From Bangwelu, the chance to see massive herds of the endemic black lechwe is a major draw while the reward for keen birdwatchers is encountering one of the rarest of birds, the shoebill stork. Other species include tsessebe, side-striped jackal, sitatunga, wattled crane, white-cheeked bee eater, rufous-bellied heron, and more.

Best Times to Go

The straw-colored fruit bat migration occurs in October and November annually. The best months to view the shoebill stork are May through August.

Livingstone / Victoria Falls

Overview

The Zambezi River is the natural border between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. From the UNESCO World Hertiage Site of Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River plunges into the bowels of the Batoka Gorge, and the spactacle can be viewed from both the Zambia and the Zimbabwe side fof the falls. While Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls National Park offers multiple viewpoints from which to stand in awe at the force of the river flowing over the gorge edge, the Zambia side of the falls has its own advantages. During the lower water level months, usually August through March, Livingstone Island can be accessed by boat where intrepid travelers can look into the Gorge behind a placard in honor of David Livingstone and then wade through the river to the edge of the falls to access the Devil’s Pool. The unique and exciting vantage point is often a highlight experience.
The actual town of Livingstone is not located at the falls itself, which is the site of the famous Royal Livingstone Hotel and the Avani Resort complex. Unlike the Zimbabwe side of the falls, generally travelers spread out along the Zambezi River at smaller, inclusive, luxury lodges as opposed to staying in town. The chance to relax along the Zambezi River is well suited to travelers who wish to remain in nature and prefer a more tranquil setting without limiting their access to the highlights of the area.
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.

Location

Livingstone, Zambia is in the southwestern border of the country where Zambia meets Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana. This allows it to be conveniently included in many safari itinerary variations. There are also daily nonstop flights from South Africa’s Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

Wildlife

From Mosi oa Tunya National Park (meaning “The Smoke that Thunders”), travelers have the unique opportunity to set out on a guided walking safari in search of the park’s protected rhinos. The park lacks any predator species, so the experience does not compete with the wild parks of neighboring areas. With rhinos under 24-hour surveillance due to anti-poaching protocol, the chances of encountering them are nearly guaranteed. Sundowner boating trips allow for lovely bird watching as well as observation of hippos, crocodiles, and elephants.

Best Times to Go

The Smoke that Thunders is deserving of its name as spray from the Victoria Falls can be seen for miles. As such, the views of the falls from the ground can be tricky during the high water level months of April through August (depends on seasonal rain levels), when the mist falls in the rainforest walkways like a steady shower and obstructs views across the gorge. However, aerial views at this time of year can be quite impressive and some travelers time their visit to coincide with the full moon in order to view “moonbows”. Many prefer to travel when the water flow is not at full volume but not yet into the driest ad hottest months (October and November).
Regardless of which side you stay on to visit the Victoria Falls, travelers have the option to purchase the KAZA Univisa on arrival while processing through customs for unlimited access to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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