Zambia

Zambia is the essence of raw Africa with superb safari activities on land and on water.

Overview

A Zambia safari offers the essence of Africa with some of the finest wildlife experiences in Africa. It also offers one of its greatest rivers: the Zambezi. The game reserves are truly wild and remote. So it will appeal if you are hungry for an intimate safari experience in a pristine environment.

The easiest option is to fly to Johannesburg and then connect to either Lusaka or Livingstone (for Victoria Falls). Within Zambia, there is only one way to travel and that’s by air. Victoria Falls and all of the major National Parks are connected by scheduled and “seat in charter” flights. So your safari fits seamlessly together.

We are often asked to compare Zambia as a safari destination with its more famous neighbour. Zambia safaris have three distinct advantages.

  • First of all, the standard of guiding is uniformly high. The Zambia safari lodges are often run by visionary characters. They balance a passion for wild places with the fierce dedication of bush entrepreneurs. Every guide has to pass stringent guiding exams, especially the walking safari guides. Thus, the quality of your guide’s all-round bush knowledge is notable.
  • Secondly, and somewhat unusually, the national parks of Zambia allow both night drives and bush walks.
  • Finally there is a friendly service ethic which is pervasive throughout the safari industry.
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Sonja Brand

Africa Travel Specialist
Our experienced band of Safari Planners can create a bespoke plan for you. More enriching, more restorative and making more of a difference. Discover how working with a specialist adds value to your African adventure.

Features

Why you may love it

  • Finest wildlife esperiences in Africa.
  • Game reserves are wild and remote.
  • National parks allow both night drives and bush walks.

Explore the Zambia map

When to visit Zambia

Mid November to mid-April

Summer Rainy season in Zambia

Much of Zambia is effectively closed for safari visitors during the summer rainy season. This is because many of the seasonal camps are cut off due to the high water levels. It is not an ideal time for Victoria Falls, especially in November and December, as the flow of water over the Falls is low. But as the summer rains continue, the flow increases dramatically. The wildlife tends to be more dispersed and harder to spot. But the vegetation is lush and green, animals are being born and birding is superb.
AVG RAINFALL 172 mm
MAX TEMP 29.4 ℃ / 85 ℉
MIN TEMP 11 ℃ / 52 ℉

Mid-April to May

Summer in Zambia

Some of the camps start to open again in the Lower Zambezi but many of the remote bush camps in the Luangwa stay closed. The summer rains stop leaving behind a lush and green landscape. It is traditionally the time of more reasonable safari prices in Zambia. The flow of water over the Victoria Falls is at its maximum which means exciting viewing experiences but not great photos as your camera would get soaked!
AVG RAINFALL 129 mm
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 72 ℉
MIN TEMP 11.5 ℃ / 53 ℉

June to August

Dry Season in Zambia

Traditionally this is the best time to visit as the dry season continues. During the dry season the bush is less dense and the animals flock to the rivers for water. It’s also the best time to see the Falls. Note that June is often a time of slightly lower safari prices in Zambia so it could be a good option of you are on a budget.
AVG RAINFALL 26 mm
MAX TEMP 23 ℃ / 74 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 51 ℉

September to mid-November

End of the dry season Zambia

Temperatures heat up quickly in September and October prior to the start of the summer rains. The flow of water over the Victoria Falls starts becoming noticeably less. Somewhere in November, the summer rains start. This heralds the end of the safari season in Zambia with most camps closing at the end of October or mid-November. Depending on specific location, some camps remain open until the end of the year.
AVG RAINFALL 109 mm
MAX TEMP 22.5 ℃ / 73 ℉
MIN TEMP 11 ℃ / 52 ℉

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Lower Zambezi Highlights by Peter

The flight from Lusaka (where I connected after flying in from Mfuwe) to Lower Zambezi was quite interesting! The aircraft is a Britten-Norman Islander. Still produced today, our example had obviously seen many years of service, but was reassuringly solid and simple. I think they like it because of the short and steep take-off and landing (I read now that they only need a rough airstrip of 350m – a short par 4!). Anyway, the flight was stunning. The view of the Zambezi as we approached Royal airstrip was sensational. Even better was my 10 minute flight to Jeki for my stay at Old Mondoro. Flying right over the river looking down on loads of hippo and ellies – unforgettable.

I was incredibly lucky and had Old Mondoro completely to myself – early season and no other guests. This gave the South African host couple plenty of opportunity to charm me with their hospitality, which they did admirably. Beukes is a well-seasoned guide/ camp manager and Jacomina is fairly new to the business – married Beukes and learnt the trade – but a natural. Very genuine hospitality and I very much enjoyed the stay.

Also a really beautiful, peaceful part of the river. And the small scale of the camp enhances the tranquility and the “getting away from it all” feeling. Mainly use only 4 tents with a fifth pressed into service for groups. Tents 1 – 3 along main stretch of river. My tent – number 3 – best I think as it is also on the corner of a small side channel. The “honeymoon” tent is a bit further up the side channel so you don’t get the fab views of the main river.

Very atmospheric at night with heaps of kerosene lanterns on paths and in tents.
But the tents DO have electricity and hot water on demand. Each tent has a lovely deck with a kind of sofa/ bed for chilling out. Fantastic birding from my tent. Overall everything just felt pristine.

My guide was Levy, who I thought was exceptional. Urbane, relaxed, confident and easy to talk to not just about the game but Zambia/ safari/ Africa in general. And he found us a leopard on our evening game drive – beautiful sighting of a male about 15 feet away moving through some scrubby trees. Magic!

And now it all got a bit James Bondy! The preferred mode of getting between the lodges in the Lower Zambezi is fast motor boat. Soon after I had clambered aboard the aluminium speed boat we were skimming across the surface of the river, past pods of hippos and huge crocs sunning themselves on sandbanks.

Sausage Tree Camp definitely lived up to its billing in terms of accommodation, service, food, activities and atmosphere. It’s a very well run camp that manages to be both super-efficient and reasonably easy going at the same time. They really like to mix up the dining locations (main area/ island location/ table and feet in the water on a sand bank) etc. food probably best I had on whole trip. And seemed to attract very pleasant guests, or maybe I was lucky. Felt very comfortable here.

I had one of the honeymoon suites which was huge! Some guests had to be driven back to main area for lunch when ellies paid a visit.

Had an evening game drive which was good if a little quiet – big-cat-wise anyway. But did have a nice zebra sighting at dusk and of course lots of hippo in river. Also saw an African Wild Cat. Plus lots of Civets and Genets.

But the real highlight was the canoe trip through the Chifungula Channel. This runs for about 13 – 14 Km in a loop off the main Zambezi, and the starting point is only a couple of hundred metres downstream from the Camp. So at about 07:00 you paddle off from the Camp and turn into the channel. I was the only guest doing it that morning, with Sebastien my guide in the back of my Canadian canoe and Honesty in the “support” canoe. I’m not a great swimmer and for obvious and very real reasons nervous about canoeing next to hippo and crocs but knew I really wanted to do it and was not disappointed. Three middle aged but very intrepid female American Agents had done the trip the previous 2 mornings and raved about it.

It typically takes about 4 hours to emerge at the other end of the channel but we did it in approx 3.5 including a stop on land for coffee and cookies. The channel is very shallow, but with some deeper areas where the hippo like to hang out. At one point my guide had to drag the canoe over a sandbank. We saw pied kingfisher, African fish eagle, goliath heron and more. Plus of course many many hippo and quite a few crocs. It was a little scary getting so close! But an absolutely unforgettable experience.
Just before the end of the channel we came across a lone bull elephant digging in the cool sand by the channel edge for water, with a small flock of yellow-billed storks in front of him.

A motor boat meets you where the channel rejoins the Zambezi and you speed back to camp, towing the canoes. I really had to pinch myself as I clambered into the boat and looked back to where we had just come from. I had a very strong sense of having emerged from a lost world, and couldn’t quite believe what we had just seen and done. Truly one of the most amazing things I have ever done.

Cedarberg : Peter Bates

Experiences in Zambia

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Did you know
  • FallsZambia's Victoria Falls is double the height of Niagara Falls
  • InsectsTermite hills in Zambia are the size of a house