Zambia

Zambia got its name from the Zambezi river and is a landlocked country which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south and Angola to the west.

Home to the famed and iconic Victoria Falls, Zambia is a true African paradise. Grassy plains, a tropical climate, and majestic rivers characterise a country that is renowned for its natural beauty. Zambia boasts some of the most unspoilt landscapes in Africa. With 19 national parks and 17 waterfalls dotted across the country, it is no wonder Zambia is regarded as an ideal safari destination.

Top 5 places to visit

Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls were discovered in 1851 by the Scottish missionary David Livingstone and named after the British Queen Victoria. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In more modern terms Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as, at the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometres, into a gorge over one hundred meters below. The wide, basalt cliff over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a placid river into a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges. Facing the Falls is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height, and capped by mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor prepared to brave the tremendous spray, with an unparalleled series of views of the Falls.

Experts have dubbed South Luangwa National Park to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the most intense in Africa.

The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the lifeblood of this 9,059 square kilometres large park. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife, birds, and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this Park and is still one of the finest ways to experience Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand. The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness, ranging from; dry, bare bushveld in the winter, to a lush, green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species in South Luangwa National Park. The only notable exception is the rhino- sadly poached to extinction.

With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Park, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.

Lake Kariba lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is Zambia’s undiscovered Riviera! It offers spectacular views, stunning sunsets, great fishing, boating opportunities, water sports or wonderful relaxing holidays or weekends just soaking up the sunshine. This is Africa’s largest man-made dam, 226km long and in places up to 40 km wide. It provides considerable electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe and supports a thriving commercial fishing industry. The sheer size of it makes one forget it is a dam and in certain places it almost feels like an ocean!

Found in the centre of western Zambia, Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest of Zambia’s national parks and is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in the world, spanning a massive 22,400 square kilometres of spectacular African wilderness.

Spread over such a vast area, the Kafue National Park offers visitors excellent game viewing, birdwatching, and fishing adventures. The terrain varies significantly from north to south: the beautiful Busanga Plains, in the north, stretch as far as the eye can see and are one of Zambia’s most significant wetland resources. Fertile wetlands in the south are fed by the Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers. Birders will delight in the extreme northwest of the park where the Busanga Swamps, an official Ramsar site, attract close to 500 species, including large flocks of herons, egrets, and endangered wattle cranes. Numerous antelope species are also common in the north, especially kudu, bushbuck, eland, reedbuck, duiker, grysbok, lechwe and waterbuck. Buffalo and elephant can be found in large herds further south. Lion are widespread and there’s a particular pride in Busanga that’s known for climbing trees. Leopards are frequently spotted in forested areas and occasional sightings of wild dog occur all over the park which is one of Zambia´s best strongholds for them.

Lower Zambezi (2)
Luangwa (1)

The Lower Zambezi National Park is still relatively undeveloped, its beauty lying in its wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as in the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary.

Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4092 square kilometres, most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the Park’s animal species. Enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, are often seen at the river’s edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The Park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard and listen too for the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle.

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General Information

Currency: Zambian Kwacha (ZMW)

Some ATMs in the larger cities accept international credit cards (mainly Visa, some also Mastercard) and at some machines it is now possible to withdraw money with debit cards. Your card needs to have a chip and pin. Direct payment by credit card is widespread in larger cities in hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets but debit cards are rarely accepted for direct payments. In Zambia it is advisable to always take enough cash with you as cashless payment does not always work. Visa fees can rarely be paid by credit card at border crossings, so bring a few US Dollars with you. Please make sure you only bring recent bills as only these are accepted in Zambia (recognizable by the large president’s head). Changing money at an exchange office is much easier in Zambia than in other countries in Southern Africa but it can also be a lengthy process and valuable time can be lost.

Please be sure to advise your bank before you travel that you will be using your card in a different country as they may block access to your card if they do not know that you are currently travelling.

For current exchange rates please use this website.

Official language: English

Visa: Please have a look at this list to see if you need to apply for a visa before travelling.

Please also consult the Zambian Embassy or Consulate for any updates before departure, especially when travelling with children.

Independence: 24 October 1964 from Britain

Religion: Christian 85%, Muslim 5%, Other 5%, No religious beliefs 5%

Souvenirs: Zambian curios are a display of the skill and workmanship that goes into the making of arts and crafts by Zambian craftsmen from all corners of the country. Zambian handicrafts includes pottery, metalworking, sleeping mats (reed mats), basketry, jewellery, African printed fabrics, and African batiks, also known as chitenge.

Agricultural products: Crops (corn, cotton, soybeans, tobacco, groundnuts, paprika, sorghum, wheat, rice), livestock and fisheries.

Main Industries: Copper mining and processing, construction, emerald mining, beverages, food, textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, and horticulture

Best time to visit: The dry season runs from May to October and is when to go to Zambia for the best game viewing along with pleasantly mild daytime temperatures (although September and October get extremely hot). The rainy season (December to April) is commonly called the “Green Season” as the bush is beautifully thick and green. This however makes game viewing less easy as the vegetation is so dense plus many animals move away from dry season water sources – note also when planning your Zambia safari that some lodges close during the rainy season due to flooding.

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