Read about the 5 BEST THINGS TO DO IN ZAMBIA in this article. The buzzing and chirping of countless cicadas and birds fills the still-cool morning air. You’re walking single file along a dusty hippo trail when your guide calls you to a halt: up ahead, a lioness comes into view, locks her gaze on you with her amber-colored eyes, then slinks away silently into the surrounding bush with a flick of her tail.
When she’s gone, you realise your heart is racing and you’ve been holding your breath. Your attention shifts to the outside world, and you take in your surroundings with renewed vigour – the colours are brighter, the sounds are clearer, and the smells are stronger. Zambia is untamed and wild, and you’ve never felt more alive!
Although Zambia’s Shumba Camp South Luangwa National Park is regarded as the birthplace of walking safaris, the country’s other magnificent parks and reserves should not be overlooked. This hidden-gem quality is why these parks have long been a favourite destination for experienced safari travellers, particularly those looking for a more authentic wildlife experience with fewer visitors.
You might be surprised to learn, however, that Zambia is also an excellent choice for first-time safari visitors. Why? The parks of the Luangwa and Zambezi Valleys offer a diverse range of activities – game drives, night drives, walking and canoeing safaris – all centred on the mighty Victoria Falls’ swirling mist and thundering water.
Here are the top 5 BEST THINGS TO DO IN ZAMBIA
1. Walk through South Luangwa.
A guided walking safari gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in this pristine wilderness. As your senses sharpen, your understanding of how every aspect of nature fits together in this extraordinary ecosystem grows. You’ll soon be able to identify various animal tracks in the sandy riverbeds, discover which plants are edible, and be amazed at how much information you can glean from the ubiquitous piles of animal dung.
And, yes, you have a good chance of seeing a lion, particularly in South Luangwa, which is one of the best places in Africa to spot big game on foot. However, there are no guarantees: walking is not an activity for tourists looking to cross off a bucket list! The nights are spent in comfortable tents, with the experienced staff providing all camp necessities.
The best places to stay in South Luangwa are in the heart of the region, away from other people, vehicles, and signs of civilisation. Don’t be put off by the name; high-quality linen, hot showers, delicious down-home meals, and ice-cold drinks served around a campfire under a starry sky will make you feel right at home. If you want to go somewhere right now, keep in mind that the world is changing. So travel the world, book a Zambia or to any other country like Namibia . Live your best life today.
2. Drives for Games
On a game drive along the Luangwa River in Zambia, a safari vehicle observes three elephants at Chamilandu Bush Camp. The South Luangwa is Zambia’s most well-known park for good reason: the concentration of game around the Luangwa River is among the densest in Africa. Unfortunately, rhino are unlikely to be seen here, but aside from that notable exception, there is more than enough big game to fill many a camera memory card.
On foot, you feel like you’re part of this remote wilderness, but a car allows you to see more wildlife and cover more ground. What is our suggestion? Combine walking safaris with game drives in this area known for its high density of leopard and lion, rumbling herds of elephant gathered at oxbow lakes, and endemic species such as Thornicroft’s giraffe and Crawshay’s zebra.
One of the most admirable aspects of the South Luangwa guides is that they do not automatically radio each other whenever they come across a good sighting. This means that if you happen to come across a big cat or even a kill, you will have the space and freedom to quietly observe the sighting, which is fantastic.
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3. Go for a float down the Lower Zambezi River.
The Lower Zambezi is a stunning reserve that stretches along the Zambezi River’s glistening waters. The lodges are more accommodating with their schedules, putting together a day of activities to suit your preferences, such as game drives, nature walks, or – a major highlight – canoe safaris.
A canoe safari is not a strenuous activity: you drift rather than paddle, passing submerged hippos and knobbly Nile crocodiles basking on the riverbanks. It’s both tranquil and thrilling! The guides are completely tuned in to the animals’ habits and behaviour, and they can easily predict their next moves.
A canoe allows you to get a closer and more intimate view of animals such as buffalo and elephant, who ignore your quiet passage past them and drink their fill at the water’s edge, unconcerned by your presence.
4. Get to Know Vic Falls Up Close and Personal Microlight flights above Zambia’s magnificent Victoria Falls
Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders,” is an apt name for Victoria Falls. Nothing prepares you for the first sight of the Zambezi River thundering over the drop – 500 million litres per minute of water crashing into a deep rocky gorge, launching a cloud of mist and rainbow-lit spray into the air.
The main falls are in Zimbabwe (see our full Victoria Falls guide), but during peak flow months, the Zambian side is equally impressive (February to May). One of our favourite Zambian viewpoints is the Knife-Edge Bridge, which takes you right up close to this thundering waterfall – be prepared to get soaked!
Victoria Falls is an excellent place to start or end a safari in Zambia. If you have the time, I recommend spending at least three days sampling the many activities available, such as a scenic helicopter flip or microlight flight, or even high-grade white-water rafting.
5. Experience the World’s Largest Mammal Migration Sunset in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park
Approximately 10 million straw-colored fruit bats fill the skies above Kasanka National Park every year from October to December. That’s right, East Africa’s Great Wildebeest Migration is not the world’s largest mammal migration!
While the sheer number of bats is impressive, it’s the atmosphere that’s the most exciting: huge birds of prey swoop through the dramatic skies, taking down bats for breakfast. The usual Kasanka specials, such as the rare, swamp-dwelling sitatunga antelope grazing in the misty dambos, can be seen in the morning (wetlands). For true safari enthusiasts, this is an absolute must-do experience.