Zambia is located in Southern Africa, and it borders Angola, Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. It might not be as popular a tourist destination as some neighboring countries, but Zambia has many underrated treasures waiting to be discovered.
The local wildlife is easily accessible for safari tours, and the Zambezi River after which the country was named, promises unforgettable adventures.
Weather in this geographical location can be very hot, so timing your trip and packing accordingly might save you a headache. Winter is from May to September when the weather is dry and cooler than usual. October and November are usually still dry, but very hot, and the rest of the year comes with tropical rainfalls and very hot, humid weather.
Is Zambia safe?
Visiting Zambia as a US citizen requires a tourist visa and your passport must be valid for at least six more months at the time of the trip. Yellow fever is a big deal, so the authorities require proof of vaccination against it prior to entering the country. You can schedule a vaccine appointment with your doctor or with a travel clinic near you. Organize your trip before applying for a visa because Zambia requires proof of travel arrangements.
Even though Zambia is one of the safest countries in Africa, crimes do happen, and you must practice basic caution. Tourists are most often subjected to petty crimes due to high poverty level. Keep your valuables out of sight and never leave your bags unattended.
History of Zambia
Even though Zambia is inhabited by a mix of nationalities, it’s also home to around 70 African tribal communities with various languages, traditions, and religions. The diversity is fascinating to outsiders, but if you decide to visit any of them (which I strongly advise doing), it’s important to be respectful and understanding. Some villages inhabited by indigenous people have museums founded by the National Heritage Conservation Commission, where visitors can learn all there is to know about a specific community. The more prominent ethnic groups in Zambia are Tonga, Bemba, Lozi, and Luvale.
Archeological records show that Zambia was populated at least 3 million years ago, Africa being considered the birthplace of civilization. Later on, the population was unfortunately subjugated to domestic and international slavery. This is still a raw wound in the hearts of local communities. After being colonialized by the Portuguese, the French, and the British, Zambia managed to obtain its independence on the 24th October 1964.
Because of their new political status, one of Zambia’s main issues is poverty, having a national poverty rate of 54%, and in rural areas it reaches 77%.
Despite the poor living conditions and the history, the people of Zambia are extremely friendly and welcoming.
When it comes to tourism, the country is not as popular as its neighbors, but it offers some of the best experiences when it comes to nature exploration. Consider supporting the local economy by discovering its beauty.
Places to visit in Zambia
When you think about a safari tour you might imagine driving around in a Jeep and spotting wildlife, however, Zambia is THE place where guides are well-trained in walking safaris. If you’re tired of watching Animal Planet and imagining yourself hiding behind a bush and spotting lions, this is the place to make your imagination become reality. And that’s not all.
The rich wildlife of Zambia includes giraffes, zebras, primates, rhinos, big cats, crocodiles, and the most impressive species of them all, the African elephant.
October and December comes with one of the most spectacular natural events in the world, which is the Kasaka bat migration. And when we say bats we mean fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, the most adorable species of bats in the world that most of us are familiar with from viral videos. There won’t be only a few, but over 10 million of them.
The Zambezi River is another unique place where you can join a canoe safari or where you can admire the famous Victoria Falls found at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Since the country is quite large, I recommend trying the following itinerary:
The capital of Zambia is the best place to start your exploration, covering over 70 sq miles of land. Despite the city not being on par with other capitals of the world, it has a fast-growing economy, with suburbs, many nationalities, and growing businesses. Before exploring the natural attractions, take a trip to the Lusaka History Museum and learn more about the people and their history.
If you want to support the orphan animals, the city is home to the Lilayi Private Game Reserve and Elephant orphanage. There you’ll have the unique opportunity to interact with baby elephants and your support will help them return to their natural environment.
The city also has many restaurants, cafés, art galleries, bars, and a growing nightlife that you can sample before or after you return from your adventures.
2. Zambezi National Park
This is your next stop after Lusaka and one of the best places to observe wild animals in the natural environment. Among the species you can see here are elephants, giraffes, impalas, buffalo, even lions and leopards. The tour will go through two sections of the national park. The first one is along the Zambezi River, and the Chamabondo Region. You’ll have the chance to embark on a walking safari as well, and the tours you can choose are either a half a day one or a full day one.
3. Lake Kariba
Your next destination should be Lake Kariba, the largest man-made dam in Africa where you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular sightseeing, engage in water sports, or just bake in the sun on the beach. If you vizit Zambia with your loved one, you can take a couple of days in this region and turn them into a romantic getaway.
4. Lochinvar National Park
This region is best known for its species of antelopes, buffalo, and birds. Great herds of lechwes can be seen along the Kafue river and in the grasslands, even swimming in the Chunga Lagoon. There are over 400 species of birds for those who enjoy a day of bird watching. The enormous national park has a few spots that every visitor must see: Gwisho Hot Springs, the Drum Rocks, and the national monument of Sebanzi Hill.
Livingstone is an important town in Zambia that was established in 1905. It was a European town, which today can be seen by the Edwardian architecture of the buildings. You can visit it without a guide, and we recommend visiting the History Museum, Art Gallery, and Reptile Park. If you visit the historic sites, a guide will be helpful to teach you the history of these places, which are indeed fascinating.
The town offers many activities for visitors, such as elephant riding, adrenaline sports, cultural events, boat rides, and much more. The vibrant town has many places you can relax before continuing your adventure.
6. Victoria Falls
One of the most spectacular attractions in Africa should be your next place to see. The Victoria Falls was discovered in 1800 and today is one of the most visited waterfalls in the world. If you visit during the peak flood season you’ll get to see the waterfall in all its splendor, but if you find yourself in Zambia during the dry season, you might even be able to walk in the hidden dry trails in the waterfall with a guide.
7. Kafue National Park
Your next stop should be Kafue National Park, one of the largest ones in Africa. It’s the home of hundreds of species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, and because it’s so big, much of it is still unexplored.
Here you’ll have the chance to spot rare species, such as the yellow-backed duiker, or the sitatunga. Other elusive animals that you might have the luck to see are cheetah, leopards, and wild dogs. Hippos, rhinos, elephants, mongoose, servals, and otters and other animals popular with tourists. There are about 160 species of mammals, and many more birds and reptiles. If you have the time to spend a few days in the Kafue National Park, you’ll greatly increase your chances of seeing rare species.
8. Lake Itezhi-Tezhi
Take a break and relax from exploring the national park at the Shiluwe safari Lodge with beautiful accommodations, restaurants, cafés, and bars. You can fish or take guided tours of the surrounding attractions, take a cruise on the lake, or just relax in the sun.
9. Busanga Plains
Your exploration should end with Busanga Plains, a place where nature is undisturbed by man. However, there are accommodations for visitors in the camp, with beautiful private tents, a dining area, some even with small pools. During the day, you’ll be taken by experienced guides on drive games or walking safaris.
You must remember that the floodplains are open seasonally, because of the rainy season. It’s secluded, but brimming with wildlife, such as antelopes, hippos, lions, elephants, cheetah, etc. The experience in the Busanga Plains can be quite pricey, but well-worth it for those who afford it, considering the animals are known to wander close to camp, and you can observe them while enjoying your tea.
If you have the time, I recommend spending at least two weeks in Zambia if you want to discover most of its treasures. There are natural wonders to see, things to learn, communities to discover. During your trip, don’t forget to keep your mind open to the unique African cuisine that you won’t taste anywhere else.
For travel information, visit the official website.