Luxury safaris in Zambia

Zambia is a safari destination for those in the know. It tends to get a little overshadowed by more famous locales, but in my opinion that only increases its appeal. If you’re a committed safari lover – or an adventurous rookie – go see for yourself; you might find that Zambia is Africa’s best kept secret.

Seeing Victoria Falls from Zambia can be a more intense experience than the picture-postcard views from across the bridge in Zimbabwe, and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park near the town of Livingstone offers exceptional birding.

Zambia is arguably the original home of walking safaris, with several operators specialising in exploring South Luangwa (Zambia’s best-known national park) or the Lower Zambezi on foot. You can also canoe here, with the mighty river in a much less tumultuous mood, and throw in a line to earn your fishing stripes by catching a tiger. By night, it’s the turn of lion – night drives shine a light on nocturnal hunting behaviour.

Looking for more reasons to make the journey to Zambia? How about the fact that it hosts two of the most remarkable mammalian migrations to criss-cross the continent: the ‘other’ Great Wildebeest Migration to Liuwa Plains, or the flight of millions of bats to Kasanka?

Kafue National Park safaris let you mingle with herds of lechwe and puku – and watch the predators which trail them. Zambia also offers excellent opportunities to stretch the fabric of life (and weave colourful, enduring memories) on hot-air balloon flights over the Busanga Plains, or by sleeping under taut canvas in a luxury fly camp in South Luangwa.

When to Go

Zambia’s dry season offers the best game-viewing, as wildlife tends to congregate around water sources and the vegetation begins to die back. Temperatures are very pleasant (although rising by October, especially in the lower altitude parks such as South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi) and rainfall is very unlikely. Although the water levels at Victoria Falls will be starting to drop, the lack of spray makes for excellent views of the cascades. Once you’re away from the falls, you may not believe it’s peak season as Zambia’s parks are never crowded.

Zambia is at its most beautiful during the green season, although seasonal flooding means that northern parks (such as Kafue) tend to close completely. The parks that do remain open, including Liuwa, Victoria Falls and Lower Zambezi, offer incredible birding (including migratory species), while new-born animals will be taking their first steps. Don’t be deterred by the rains – we’re mostly talking short afternoon showers, and not every day. The trade-off is lower rates, and in South Luangwa, more flexibility about family travel and the chance to mess around in boats.

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