introduction and general information
Named after the river that runs through it, many of Zambia's tourist activities are centred on the Zambezi River and its most famous feature, the stunning Victoria Falls. One of the world's seven natural wonders, the falls were first documented by explorer David Livingstone in 1855. At the time this mighty sheet of falling water could only be admired from a distance, however today visitors can get much closer aided by lookout points, scenic boat rides, microlight flights and thrilling helicopter excursions, dubbed the ‘flight of angels'. A boat cruise while the sun sets on the calm Zambezi before alighting for a bush dinner is one experience that shouldn't be missed. Zambia is also an excellent safari destination, with many vast and unspoilt game reserves and a range of safari accommodation in the Kafue National Park north of Livingstone, the Lower Zambezi National Park in the south lying along the border of Zimbabwe, and the South Luangwa National Park in the east of the country close to Malawi. As the distances between these areas are vast, the best way to reach the safari regions are by scheduled charter flight. Many visitors also choose to explore Zambia as part of a larger itinerary that includes other East African countries. We can assist you in putting together a comprehensive itinerary that includes accommodation, activities, transfers and flights.
our top 5
Victoria Falls and Livingstone
Located approximately 10 km from the spectacular Victoria Falls, the town of Livingstone is an ideal location from which to explore the Zambezi River and can also be used as a base for game safaris in Zambia, Zimbabwe or Botswana. The obvious highlight in the immediate area is Victoria Falls, with the Zambian side offering breathtaking viewpoints. These include Knife Edge Bridge with superb vistas of the Eastern Cataract and the Main Falls, as well as Boiling Pot, a huge whirlpool at the base of the falls where the river turns and heads down the Batoka Gorge. Visitors can explore on foot or take to the skies on the ‘Flight of Angels' to get a fabulous perspective of the size of the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls. Other highlights include Mukuni Village, once frequented by explorer David Livingstone and today housing a traditional rural community, as well as the nearby Mosi Oa Tunya National Park recommended for a morning or afternoon 4x4 safari drive. We also suggest a day trip to the magnificent Chobe National Park, famous for its large herds of elephant, buffalo and lion. Activities such as micro-light flights and quad biking will tempt the adventurous while luxurious, scenic boat cruises offer the perfect end to the day. The Livingstone and Victoria Falls area provides an excellent selection of accommodation options, some very near to the falls and others further upstream with a more intimate, peaceful atmosphere. Here visitors can also enjoy boat trips and canoe excursions with the opportunity of getting close to the wildlife on the river banks.
Suggested length of stay: We suggest 4-5 nights in the Livingstone and Victoria Falls area. As the scenery of the falls is ever-changing, we recommend more than one visit at different times of the day in order to truly appreciate its varied, natural beauty.
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Lying peacefully on the northern shores of Lake Kariba, Siavonga dotted with upmarket holiday homes and accommodation establishments and is often referred to as the ‘Riviera' of Zambia. Nearby is the spectacular Kariba Dam wall that spans 617 m across the Kariba Gorge, while the lake itself is the largest man-made reservoir in the world covering an immense 5 500 km2. Its wide, deep waters are well populated with hippos and crocodiles. For this reason, swimming in the lake is not advised; however, boat cruises offer an opportunity to admire the scenic beauty and tremendous abundance of birdlife. Fishing is another popular pastime with species such as tiger fish, tilapia, and massive barbel testing the skills of any avid angler, while water sports enthusiasts will enjoy water skiing, sailing and jet skiing. The lake's incredible landscape is often captured by photographers and artists, and the area is the traditional land of the Tonga tribe, a friendly community who live in rural villages near the water's edge. Siavonga is easily reached from Lusaka and extends a generous selection of waterfront accommodation ranging from hotels to lodges and guesthouses. While in the area, we suggest spending some time on a houseboat for dreamy sunsets and inspiring dawns, as well as a visit to the Kariba Dam wall where the breathtaking scenery can be admired from a wide pedestrian bridge.
Suggested length of stay: We suggest 2-3 nights relaxing at the water's edge in Siavonga which provides a refreshing change of scenery from Zambia's wildlife plains and waterholes. This visit can be easily tied into your broader Zambian travel itinerary and Boutique Africa can assist with all your accommodation bookings and other travel requirements.
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South Luangwa National Park
The lush South Luangwa National Park is famed for its fertile plains and profuse wildlife as well as its high quality guiding that ranks among the best in Africa. South Luangwa is a naturally blessed landscape, with plenty of sunshine, water and mineral-rich soil. There are several unique herbivore species endemic to the area that include the graceful Thornicroft's giraffe, with more striking colouration than other southern African giraffe; Cookson's wildebeest, distinguished by their reddish bands of colour; and Crawshay's zebra, lacking the brown shadow stripes that other zebra species sport. Prides of lions are often spotted and South Luangwa is highly rated as an excellent area to see leopard due to the park permitting spot-lit night drives. Activities to keep visitors busy include morning, afternoon and evening open-air safari drives, with some camps also offering walking safaris, well located photographic hides, and boat cruises when water levels permit. Almost all of South Luangwa's lodges and camps are tucked away in natural bush and located along the river banks with game regularly roaming through the camps. The most secluded accommodation options are found away from the main Mfuwe gate. These are well spaced out and there's only a slim chance of bumping into another safari vehicle while out on a drive. Style and luxury vary from one lodge to another and visitors can choose to camp out for a few nights or lay their head down in indulgent comfort at the old presidential lodge.
Suggested length of stay: We suggest at least 3-4 nights in South Luangwa while treating yourself to the opulent style that most of the lodges generously provide. A longer stay in the Luangwa Valley however gives visitors the chance to experience more than one camp.
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Kafue National Park
The Kafue National Park is the largest reserve in Zambia with a low visitor density and plenty of wildlife to uncover for those who take the time. Its unique environment provides a completely different experience to Zambia's other national parks and although not rated as highly as other wildlife areas in the country, its peaceful surrounds and undulating plateaus are well worth a visit. The northern area of the park is dominated by the Busanga Plains, characterised by its lush vegetation during the rainy season and diversity and quantity of big game. To the south, Kafue becomes drier and game viewing can be sporadic; however, those that are patient are likely to be rewarded with some fantastic wildlife sights. The park has abundant birdlife, while a wide range of antelope and good numbers of lion and leopard round off the highlights. We recommend taking time to fully explore this diverse and enormous terrain as it is fascinating to travel from north to south while admiring the transformation from open grasslands to woodland thickets interspersed with granite hills. The most convenient way to get to Kafue is by air and there are several charter flights into the park. Visitors can then enjoy the various activities offered by their accommodation establishment. There is a well maintained tarmac road between Lusaka and Kafue and while it is possible to follow a self-drive itinerary, a 4x4 is needed to properly explore the park itself.
Suggested length of stay: Visits can range from 2-3 nights to up to a week depending on your personal preference, although this scenic park does lend itself to unrushed exploration. Accommodation options range from camps with simple amenities through to luxury bush lodges.
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Lower Zambezi National Park
Situated in the lower Zambezi Valley along the river of the same name, the Lower Zambezi National Park is a lush and beautiful wonderland of tall trees and verdant grasslands. The park protects a large section of a great rift valley with hilly high ground flanking the escarpments, while the wide Zambezi River nurtures stately trees including ebony, leadwood, fig and apple-ring fruit trees, a favourite for hungry elephants. These, along with buffalo, are commonly spotted in the park while impala, kudu and zebra are among the most frequently seen herbivores. Predators such as lion and leopard enjoy hunting the varied terrain, while rich birdlife includes heron, stork and eagle. The Lower Zambezi Valley has many airstrips and most visitors choose to fly into the park. This also makes a Lower Zambezi safari easy to combine with other areas of Zambia as well as surrounding countries. From simple bush camps to stylish safari lodges, accommodation options suits all requirements and budgets and most offer an exceptional range of activities. Morning and afternoon game drives are complemented by boat cruises and canoeing, and some camps also offer guided walks and fishing. In between game viewing and other outdoor activities, guests can enjoy lingering lunches, lazy siestas, and candlelit dinners surrounded by the call of wildlife. We recommend combining a stay at the Lower Zambezi National Park with a few days visiting South Luangwa. These are Zambia's two most popular safari destinations and present contrasting landscapes and experiences.
Suggested length of stay: We suggest a stay of at least 3-4 nights in the Lower Zambezi National Park. This could form part of a larger travel itinerary including the Victoria Falls and wildlife viewing in other national parks and reserves, which Boutique Africa can assist with planning.
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