Long overshadowed by neighboring Zimbabwe and Tanzania, Zambia is coming into own as a top-flight safari destination. Nearly two-fifths of the country is national parkland or other protected land. Not all the conservation areas are well maintained and some parks are nearly devoid of visitors (which can be both good and bad), but Zambia’s emergence as an elite African destination means that it will be able to devote increasing resources to its wildlife management.
Much of Zambian tourism is still focused around magnificent Victoria Falls, which Zambia shares with Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River. While the Zimbabwe side generally has better panoramic views of the falls, the Zambian side offers better close-ups, including walkways to the foot of the falls.The town of Livingstone serves as the Zambian base for Victoria Falls accommodations and numerous adventure activities, including bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and gorge swinging. You may need to cross the bridge to the Zimbabwe side for some activities, which will involve completing border formalities.
First-rate Game Viewing
Zambia has a number of game parks within fairly easy reach of Victoria Falls, but you’ll need to travel farther into the country to reach some of the best. Three of its national parks -- South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue -- are built around rivers and are first-rate game-viewing areas, though generally far less crowded than those in East Africa. The country’s top innovations are its walking safaris, led by expert guides and escorted by armed rangers.
When you’re on the ground, walking through the bush in pursuit of lions and elephants, among other animals, you gain a sense of intimacy with the land and the wildlife that isn’t possible while traveling in a vehicle. Yes, a certain amount of risk is inherent in a walking safari, and that’s where the expertise of the guide is crucial. Zambian guides are trained both in game drives and walking safaris. They know both where the wildlife is most likely to be found, as well as how to view it safely and stay out of harm’s way. A walking safari is no artificial adventure or cheap thrill; the exhilaration of approaching and even encountering wildlife on foot is hard to match. This feeling will stay with you long after your other wildlife experiences start to fade.
Don’t overlook the serenity -- and often accompanying excitement -- of Zambia’s canoeing and boating safaris, which you can find in Lower Zambezi and Kafue National Parks, among others. The latter is a huge park that is mostly wilderness, little visited for its size. South Luangwa, where the walking safari concept originated, is Zambia’s best known and most popular park, and is rich in wildlife -- known especially for its leopards as well as an abundance of giraffes, antelope, hippos and buffalo. Night game drives are another specialty.
Accommodation in South Luangwa and other major parks ranges from luxury lodges to basic camps, mostly locally owned and genuinely concerned about conservation. Because of its sometimes primitive infrastructure and wilderness settings, though, this is a country where guided safaris are almost essential. And that’s where Stride comes in -- helping you sort through the variety of outfitters and itineraries that will enable you to experience this exciting safari destination at the right pace and budget.