Lions in Zambia

7 Things to Do in Zambia

Lions in Zambia

Most safari-goers make a beeline for Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. But savvy wildlife enthusiasts know that Zambia is the continent’s next big thing.
 
With one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and a president with a keen focus on ecotourism and conservation, Zambia is quite stable, chock-full of friendly people, and rich with national parks. Fourteen different ecosystems support an astounding 12,505 different animal species (the Big Five & Little Five included).
 
The country is a nature-lover’s paradise, yet even the most vibrant nature reserves never get much safari traffic. Check out our favorite things to do in Zambia, including feeling the spray of the world’s largest waterfall, paddling the mighty Zambezi River, sipping on a Mosa lager with the locals, and discovering one the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.

Victoria Falls 

1. Explore the Natural World Wonder of Victoria Falls
Ever since explorer David Livingstone charted a path to the falls in 1855, they have captivated travelers’ minds. Seeing the Zambezi River fall at a rate of 3 million liters per second and vanish into a mist of dancing rainbows was said to be “a scene so lovely, it must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Discover the world’s largest waterfall (by width and height) for yourself with a walk through Mosai Tunya National Park. Going eye to eye with a 5,604 x 354ft. fall is awe-inspiring and beckons further exploration. Take a boat to Livingstone Island– the isle and pop-up teahouse perched at the precipice of the falls– for cocktails, crumpets, and jaw-dropping views. If you’re here when water levels are lower (August-January) and feeling brave, take a dip in the Devil’s Pool, a natural swimming hole just feet from edge!



2. Get an Adrenaline Rush in Livingstone
Much more than just the home of Victoria Falls, Livingstone is the Adventure Capital of Africa. The rush of the falls has inspired dozens of outfitters, specializing in every variety of thrill: river rafting, sport fishing, jet boating, bungee jumping, gorge swinging, and (our favorite) microlight flights – a hang-glider meets go-cart that sweeps you right over the falls. Even if you typically keep your endorphins on a slow simmer, you’ll want to turn it up a notch to enjoy all of Livingstone’s extreme beauty.

 Family Zambia & Lake Malawi Safari - zebras

3. Canoe the Lower Zambezi National Park
It's been said that where there is a river, there is life. Located along the Zambezi River’s 1,599-mile journey to the sea, Lower Zambezi National Park makes up one if its most fruitful corridors. The river is shaded with lush ebony and fig trees. Zebra, lions, waterbuck, impala, hyena, leopards are drawn to the water’s edge for a drink. While crocodiles, hippos, and countless fish are happy to call the Zambezi home. Paddle the river in a simple canoe to truly appreciate the river’s power, serenity and vibrant habitat. Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools Reserve lines the opposite shore so the area is doubly protected for an unfettered wildlife experience.

Elephants 

4. Take a World-Class Safari in South Luangwa
Said to be one of the world’s greatest unspoiled wilderness areas, South Luangwa National Park is 3,400 square miles of pure safari wonderland. The lush expanse of woodlands, plains, and oxbow lagoons, along with the powerful Luangwa River attract a remarkably diverse and dense population of wildlife. Take a game drive to watch leopards and lions on the hunt, hippos bobbing in the river, and the Thornicroft’s Giraffe (which is only found in South Luangwa!) grazing the treetops. Enjoy nature’s finer details with a walking safari. Follow paw tracks, identify bird calls, smell medicinal plants, and see what crosses your path… odds are you’ll spot a few of the park’s 14,000 elephants.

Family Zambia & Lake Malawi Safari - village 

5. Experience Life in a Traditional Zambian Village
For being a former British colony, Zambia has done well to retain its remarkably rich and diverse indigenous cultures. The country has 73 unique tribes, speaking over 20 dialects. And, unlike many other nations, there is little history here of inter-tribal strife. Do what you can to learn about the local people in each area you visit and support community-based tourism. Near South Luangwa, the Kawaza Village invites visitors to take part in daily life – harvesting vegetables, grinding maize, drawing water from the well, and sharing a traditional meal.
 
zambia family lake malawi photos kingfisher

6. Go Bat & Birdwatching at Kasanka National Park
Set on the edge of the silvery waters of Lake Bangweulu basin, with roaming elephants and antelope all around, this petite park is plenty scenic by land. But the real action is found high in the sky. The park is home to 400 species of birds, and you can spot the African Finfoot, Ross’ Lourie, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Western Osprey, just to name a few. Come November and December, the Fruit Bats come out for foraging… around 10 million of them! By day, they roost in the woodland. By twilight, the endless stream of Bats paints the sky. Adding to Kasanka’s unique nature, it was saved from poaching and neglect by a small group of brave and industrious locals in the 1980s. It remains privately managed and funded by tourism and charitable giving, making it the only Zambian national park of its kind.

cambia shoebill safari overview shoebill stork 

7. Get Rare Animal Sightings in the Bangwelulu Wetlands
The convergence of flooded grasslands, lakes, swamps, and miombo woodland in northeastern Zambia is the secret sauce for two rarely seen populations: The Shoebill Stork and the Black Lechwe Antelope. Not found in such volume anywhere else in the world, the Black Lechwe come out by the 100,000s, leaping through the waters and grasses. Huge herds of Tsessebe and Sitatunga add to the antelope frenzy, making for a dramatic sight that rivals the Serengeti’s famed Great Migration. Then there’s the always-elusive Shoebill: Zambia offers the world’s best chance to see this big-billed beauty in the wild. Don your muck boots and follow an expert guide for a rare adventure!
 
Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. Their blog, HoneyTrek, chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 45 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found in Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications.