Zambia is a beautiful country sitting right in the heart of the African continent. It’s a premier travel destination filled with stunning wildlife, vast unspoiled landscapes, and the most friendly people you’ll ever meet. Zambia has some of Africa’s best national parks and is home to the iconic Victoria Falls. From the markets and excitement of Lusaka to wildlife-rich national parks like Kafue and South Luangwa, Zambia will not disappoint. So grab your binoculars as we go exploring ten of the best places to visit in Zambia.
Lusaka is the best place to start your Zambian adventure. Located in the south of the country, Lusaka is the capital city, economic hub, and is home to upwards of 2 million people. Lusaka is a great place to orient yourself to southern Africa and relax. Try the many great eateries like the Bongwe Pub & Grill, a favourite hangout for tourists and ex-pats. To get a taste of the local wildlife, head to the outskirts of the city and visit the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. They work with rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants from Kafue National Park. Here you can watch them being fed and cared for.
If you are in town on the weekend, check out the Sunday crafts market and explore the assortment of hand-made souvenirs like jewellery, artwork, and crafts. All prices are negotiable, so brush up on your bargaining skills. Other highlights of Lusaka are Zambia’s National Museum and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
You can’t have a list of best places to visit in Zambia (or southern Africa for that matter) without including Victoria Falls. This awe-inspiring waterfall is on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Vic Falls is over a mile long and soars to a height of 355 feet, but you won’t find the falls on any list of the world’s largest or widest waterfalls. It’s the Victoria Falls legend, combined with the perpetual mist rising from the falls, that will take you back to the time when Dr. Livingston first saw Mosi-oa-Tunya (“Smoke that thunders” in the Tonga language) and said, “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”.
Adrenaline junkies can experience white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and take in views of the falls’ rainbow from a helicopter or micro flight.
South Luangwa National Park
If you want to go to where the action is, head straight to South Luangwa National Park. The park boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the continent, including large amounts of elephant, giraffe, and Cape Buffalo. South Luangwa National Park slopes down from the mountain peaks and into the valley of the Luangwa River—home to vast populations of crocodiles and hippos. To have the best chance to spot lots of wildlife, head to the park during the dry season (July to October), when the animals congregate on the banks of the Luangwa River. Just be prepared to see lions and leopards trying to catch some dinner!
Check into the Croc Valley Camp for one of their celebrated walking safaris where you can immerse yourself totally into this pristine wilderness. As you stroll the African wilderness, expert guides will teach you animal tracking, as well as let you know about government anti-poaching and conservation efforts.
Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is the jewel in the crown of Zambia’s national parks. Founded in 1924, Kafue is the oldest and largest protected game area in the country and the second-largest in Africa. The park spans 22,400 square kilometres in central Zambia. In the far north of Kafue sits the Busanga Plains and wetlands, home to vast herds of antelopes, wildebeests, zebras, and the elusive cheetah. The Kafue River hosts hippos and some of the largest crocodiles in southern Africa. Here you can also spot wild African dogs in the high grass as you watch the large elephant population roam the savannah.
You can easily reach Kafue by road from Lusaka and Livingstone. If you stay at Musungwa Safari Lodge, you’ll be treated to game drives, boat rides, and walking safaris.
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
If you are going to visit the town of Livingstone, then you have to make a stop at Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The park has two parts—the Victoria Falls area, and the wildlife section (this area is less than 2 miles from Livingstone).
The highlight of the park is its white rhino population. The best way to see them up close and personal is by booking a walking tour through Livingstone Rhino Walks. Since Mosi-oa-Tunya is free of predators, you can self-drive and get great views of elephant, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope, as you drive between Livingstone and Vic Falls. Once you have worked up the nerve, you can walk the narrow platforms of the Knife-Edge Bridge that spans the falls themselves!
Lower Zambezi National Park
The Lower Zambezi is an incredibly beautiful reserve extending out along the glistening waters of the Zambezi River. There are many great places to stay in the area, but the best way to see the park is to take a canoe safari with Baines’ River Camp. A stay at Baine’s will give you that private African getaway of your dreams.
This pristine wilderness contains a variety of landscapes, from grassland, forest, and floodplain, all supporting an enormous variety of wildlife. Lose yourself in the romantic waters as you drift past the submerged hippos as Nile crocodiles bask on the riverbanks. The expert guides will ensure your trip is both safe and peaceful. You can also enjoy some fly fishing, take guided walks, and enjoy a sunset river cruise.
Lake Kariba wins the award for being the largest man-made reservoir in the world. It was created when the Kariba Dam was built on the Zambezi River basin in the late 1950s. Lake Kariba is more than 139 miles long and shares the shore with Zimbabwe. The lake really stands out in landlocked Zambia, and you would think that you were gazing out over the ocean.
A popular activity on Lake Karib is to stay on a houseboat. Views of hippos, crocs, birds, and elephants are common as you drift along enjoying the view. A stay at the Lake Kariba Inn will put you right in the middle of the action. Along with world-class dining and spas, you can take a night cruise on the lake or visit the nearby Siavonga Market to learn all about traditional Zambia cuisine.
Shiwa Ngandu Manor House
If you find an English-style country estate out of place in Zambia, you wouldn’t be alone. Shiwa Ngandu is located in the Northern Province of Zambia and was built by a young British military man named Stewart Gore-Browne. He did this after being struck by the natural beauty of the land. You can book a stay in the manor house, and enjoy a wide variety of things to do from hiking, boating, fishing, and even take a horse safari. You can fly into their private airstrip from Lusaka, or if you are on a safari on South Luangwa National Park, you can get there from the Mfuwe Airport.
Mwela Rocks National Monument
Mwela Rocks are off the beaten path, but if you are an archaeology buff, it will well worth the trip. There are several caves containing about 700 well preserved 2,000-year-old rock paintings left by the Twa, Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Guides from the National Park will provide insight into what life was like for the cave dwellers and do their best to interpret the meaning of the rock art. The area is beautiful, but if you are looking for some luxury, you won’t find it here.
If you are staying the night, the Kalebalika Cottages in the nearby town of Kasama offer comfortable lodging at a reasonable price. Getting to the monument from town is accessible by taxi. While you are in the area, check out gorgeous Chishimba Falls, found just on the other side of the town.
Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage
If you need a break from all the wildlife you find on a safari, about 40 miles northwest of the Copperbelt town of Chingola is Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage. Sheila Siddle and her daughter run this really neat chimpanzee sanctuary that is home to around 130 adult and young chimps. Most of the chimps were rescued from poachers and traders in the DRC or other parts of Africa. Even though this is not a reserve, it’s still worth the trip to get to see the chimps romp and play in a protected environment. The entry fees help keep the orphanage financially viable and saves the lives of many exploited chimps. If you have time, you can volunteer at Chimfunshi, but you need to commit at least two weeks.
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