Zambia is one of Africa’s hidden gems – and that may not be a bad thing! It doesn’t get quite the attention that its better-known neighbors (Botswana and Zimbabwe) receive, but that is certainly not due to a lack of reasons to go there. Zambia has styled itself as ‘the real Africa’ and it’s hard to argue with that description.
Zambia feels a bit more off the beaten track, which makes its game reserves and national parks seem even more authentically remote. But let’s start with the most accessible part of the country: Victoria Falls.
This immense landmark straddles the border between Zambia and neighboring Zimbabwe, and we’d recommend seeing it from both sides. In contrast to Zimbabwe’s picture-perfect views, Zambia gives you the chance to get up close and personal – and quite possibly get soaked!
When the water levels are lower, you can boat out to Livingstone Island for a picnic above the Falls, or even take a dip in the Devil’s Pool on the very edge of the precipice!
Further into Zambia, superb wildlife experiences await. Zambia pioneered guided walking safaris, and it’s still one of the best places to explore the bush on foot, rather than by vehicle. The contrast is remarkable: by slowing things down to walking pace, you’re able to really appreciate the details that make the African wilderness so special. South Luangwa is one of the key walking destinations – combine your stroll with camping in the bush for the full safari experience.
You can also propel yourself along the mighty Zambezi River on a canoe safari – another way to get that little bit closer to the wildlife action (but thanks to experienced guides, in complete safety).
Zambia is also the setting for some lesser-known migrations, including the awesome sight of millions of fruit bats darkening the skies over Kasanka National Park, or wildebeest crossing Liuwa Plains.
If you’re in Zambia in March or April, be sure to catch the Kuomboka river procession as the Lozi Litunga (or king) uses a giant ceremonial canoe to from one seasonal palace to another.
Gateway cities: Livingstone, Lusaka
Best time to travel: May through November
Highlights: Victoria Falls (Livingstone,) South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Kafue