Zambia is one of Africa's least crowded and most wildlife-rich destinations: you can easily see the "Big 5" (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape Buffalo); it is one of the only places in Africa where you can combine a traditional jeep safari with more intimate and unique walking and canoeing safaris; it's also home to the second-largest wildebeest migration in Africa.
Zambia is also steeped in history dating all the way back to the African Stone Age.
Whilst Zambia is now one of Africa’s most urbanized countries, much of the country remains wild, underdeveloped, and unspoiled, with a great percentage of land allocated by the government to conservation projects and national parks. Many of these parks are home to incredible numbers of Africa’s most-feted wild mammals and extraordinary birdlife.
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia.
Zambia has all the Big Five, even if rhinos are extremely rare and confined to the Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) and North Luangwa National Parks. Elephant, buffalo and lion are common across multiple parks however, and Kafue, South Luangwa, and the Lower Zambezi are all well-known for leopard.
Zambia is also full of fascinating rare and endemic species such as black lechwe, Crawshay’s zebra, and Thornicroft’s giraffe. Liuwa Plain National Park hosts Africa’s second-largest wildebeest migration in November each year, and Kasanka National Park’s 10 million fruit bats take to the skies from October to December.
Zambia is one of the wettest countries in Southern Africa and the rivers and lakes offer excellent fishing alongside thriving populations of hippo and crocodiles. The Zambezi River is famous for its tigerfish and numerous fishing lodges can be found all along its length.
What to do
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Arguably Africa’s most famous attraction, the 1.7km-wide Victoria Falls lives up to its hype. At its peak between February and May, more than 550 million liters of water spills into the Batoka Gorge every minute. The falls can be viewed from both Zambia and Zimbabwe, but Zambia tends to be quieter and more intimate. The Zambian side also boasts what is probably the falls’ most dramatic viewpoint: the Knife Edge Bridge, which is completely shrouded in mist during peak flow.
North and South Luangwa National Parks
South Luangwa National Park is arguably the best wildlife-viewing destination in Zambia. Both South and North Luangwa are famous for their walking safaris, which are led by expert guides through some of Africa’s best game viewing territory.
Sioma Ngwezi and Ngonye Falls National Parks
Sioma Ngwezi has a history of excellent giraffe sightings. Water is scarce, and so the best wildlife viewing is just after the summer rains when the animals congregate around the drying pools. It is the perfect location for those in search of complete isolation and a truly remote wilderness experience. There’ also the chance to swim, fish, kayak or go white-water rafting.
Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s premier wildlife destinations. Wildlife viewing is best along the rivers. The Zambezi River itself is the region’s main source of water and the major attraction, both for visitors and game. The Lower Zambezi is known for its large populations of buffalo and elephants, which congregate along the Zambezi River during the dry winter months. Lion, leopard, and hyena are also common as well as large numbers of hippo and crocodile.
Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is Zambia’s largest wildlife reserve and also one of the biggest in Africa. Buffalos and elephants can be found in large herds. Lions are widespread and there’s a particular pride in Busanga that’s known for climbing trees. Leopards are frequently spotted in forested areas, especially during night drives.
Liuwa Plain National Park
One of Zambia’s most remote national parks, Liuwa Plain lies west of the upper Zambezi River. Large areas of the park are totally flooded during the rainy season, and even in the drier winter months, it’s difficult to reach and explore. Those who can find a way there will often feel like they have the entire park, and its abundant wildlife, to themselves.