Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls. It’s the world’s largest curtain of falling water and probably the reason you’re dreaming of a vacation in Zambia.
While Victoria Falls is indeed this southern African gem’s premier attraction, it’s not the only highlight in store.
Read on for our guide to the seven best places to visit when vacationing in Zambia.
Livingstone is just a few kilometres from Victoria Falls and the town that most travellers use as their base to get close to this natural wonder. Along with marvelling at this jaw-dropping spectacle for hours on end, there’s plenty more adventure that awaits.
Go white-water rafting, enjoy a sunset dinner cruise on the Zambezi River, take a guided tour, or (depending on when you visit) take a dip in Devil’s Pool, a natural pool on the very edge of the falls.
Best time to go: Victoria Falls and Livingstone are year-round destinations, with something special to offer no matter which season you visit. If you’d like to experience the sheer force of the falls, plan your trip between March and May when the cascading river is at full capacity. May to September is peak season, so if you’d prefer to steer clear of crowds and take advantage of reduced rates, head to Zambia between January and April. Finally, photographers should aim for a visit between October and December – the famous Green Season – when the weather is hot and rainy, and countless colourful migratory birds arrive.
Ultimate highlight: A guaranteed highlight, particularly for thrill-seekers, is a 111-metre bungee jump off Victoria Falls Bridge.
Our top lodge/camp: Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel offers 16 luxury suites and is suitable for a couple’s getaway or a family safari. The hotel is known for its enriching kids’ programme, and there’s a large swimming pool for hours of fun in the sun.
Our favourite tour: Our 17-day Southern African Dream tour takes you not only to Zambia, but also to Botswana and South Africa. You can look forward to encounters with Vic Falls, wining and dining in the Cape Winelands, game viewing in Londolozi Reserve and mokoro (traditional canoe) safaris on the Okavango Delta.
South Luangwa National Park
If viewing wildlife is your main aim, South Luangwa National Park should be your first stop. The park is home to over 60 animal species and more than 400 bird species. Go in search of these beautiful creatures on scenic walking safaris along the Luangwa River – Africa’s most intact river system – or embark on an educational eco-tour.
Best time to go: Game viewing is always at its best during the dry season – from July to October – when the grass is short and sparse, making it easy to spot game from a distance.
Ultimate highlight: South Luangwa National Park is renowned for its walking safaris. It’s also one of the only national parks allowing night-time game drives, fantastic for catching a glimpse of the otherwise elusive nocturnal animals, such as brown hyenas, civets, and porcupines.
Our top lodge/camp: Remote and intimate, the recently renovated Lion Camp is a traveller’s haven. Choose from 10 stylish suites, all linked to the main lodge via elevated walkways.
Kafue National Park
Go big with a stay inside Kafue National Park, the oldest and largest in Zambia. Since it’s so huge, there’ll be barely any other vehicles in sight, leaving you feeling like it’s just you and the animals every time you set out on a game drive or bush walk.
Best time to go: A safari in Kafue National Park is best enjoyed between July and October. The bush has dried out by this time, encouraging animals to congregate around waterholes and rivers. Do note that the jewel of Kafue, Busanga Plains, is off-limits due to flooding if you opt to visit during the photography-friendly Green Season (November – April).
Ultimate highlight: Leisurely boat cruises along the glassy surface of the Kafue River, surrounded by crocodiles, hippos and thirsty herds of elephant.
Our top lodge/camp: You’ll find Busanga Bush Camp in the heart of Busanga Plains, nestled in a vegetated island of fig trees. It’s the ultimate choice for a secluded safari, accommodating just eight guests at a time.
Lower Zambezi National Park
Explore Zambia’s sprawling wilderness in the Lower Zambezi National Park. It’s a hidden gem promising the chance to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels. Keep your eyes peeled for diverse birdlife along the cliffs and riverbanks, including the African fish eagle and the Southern carmine bee-eater.
Best time to go: July to October, the dry season, is the best time to visit the Lower Zambezi National Park. If you’d like to do some fishing, aim to book your visit for any time between September and November. Note that many of the lodges in this national park operate seasonally, usually from mid-March to mid-November.
Ultimate highlight: Observing flourishes of carmine bee-eaters tirelessly constructing their nests on the riverbanks.
Our top lodge/camp: Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp is on the banks of the Mushika Floodplain, at its confluence with the Zambezi River. Settle into one of 12 luxury tents on raised timber platforms for spectacular views of your breath-taking surroundings.
Our favourite tour: Our Luxury in the Wild Tour is the ultimate South Africa/Zambia combo vacation itinerary. Revel in the magic of the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve before heading to Victoria Falls and concluding your getaway in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The world’s largest manmade lake and a true fisherman’s paradise, Lake Kariba is swarming with kapenta, tiger fish, bream and the gigantic vundu, which can grow to the size of a fully grown man! Along with its fishing opportunities, the sprawling Lake Kariba is absolutely beautiful and an ideal location for relaxing boat cruises and wildlife viewing.
Best time to go: That depends on the experience you’re after. Anytime from May to September is perfect for cool weather, calm waters and game viewing on the mainland. If you’d like to enjoy long afternoons spent birdwatching, come to Lake Kariba during the rainy season, particularly in October. If you’re keen to reel something in, the perfect time to visit depends on the type of fishing you enjoy. Trolling is best between June and January, fly fishing and spinning are popular from May to October and drift baiting is an option from January to May.
Ultimate highlight: Soaking up the sunshine and appreciating the wildlife inside and around the lake while casting out and sipping on a cold one.
Our top lodge/camp: For gorgeous views of this incredible lake paired with unrivalled luxury, we recommend a stay at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge in one of the 10 lavish rooms and suites, each built into the hillside.
According to the Ramsar Convention, Bangweulu Wetlands is one of the world’s most important wetlands, which boasts an extensive network of ecosystems. The name means “where the water meets the sky”, and these wetlands certainly are as majestic as they sound when you finally see them in person. Look out for the uniquely handsome and hefty shoebill stork, who subtly resembles a pre-historic pterodactyl.
Best time to go: A visit from May to July, when the waters have receded, promises sights of grazers and shoebills. Birders, however, should head here during the rainy season, between December and March, when birds such as sacred ibis and swamp flycatchers flock to the region. This is also when you’re most likely to spot a herd of the rare black lechwe antelopes.
Ultimate highlight: The Bangweulu Wetlands are community-owned and protected, and it’s possible to get to know members of the local communities better during your visit. You’ll usually encounter them practising traditional beekeeping and fishing as they rely on the marshlands to sustain their traditional lifestyles.
Our top lodge/camp: The legendary Shoebill Island Camp gets you close to the Bangweulu Wetlands. Solar-powered and open between May and October, it offers a secluded escape in one of just four luxury tents.
A vacation in Zambia wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the country’s upbeat capital city. Lusaka is chockfull of friendly locals, shopping malls, galleries, bars, restaurants and plenty of opportunities to experience Zambian culture and traditions.
Best time to go: Avoid the rain by visiting Lusaka between May and October.
Ultimate highlight: The city markets are always full of excitement and glorious finds. The African Craft Market is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, brimming with hand-made souvenirs. Kamwala Market is another deserving of a place in your itinerary. Here, you can shop practically anything you can imagine – tasty traditional snacks, electronics, farm-fresh fruit and veggies and even livestock!
Our top lodge/camp: Most visitors arrive in Lusaka before travelling further afield on safari. However, if you’re on a business trip and intend to stay in the city centre for a few days, we recommend the four-star Lilayi Lodge, offering a choice between deluxe and family chalets.
Ready to explore Zambia and its countless treasures? Be our guest. Team GILTEDGE is happy to customise an African vacation especially for you, down to every last detail. Contact us today.