Zambia – What To See

Sunset - Victoria Falls, Zambia

Sunset – Victoria Falls, Zambia

Zambia is an underappreciated destination in Africa that has plenty to offer the visitor.  Zambians are a friendly and welcoming people and even the touts who approach you do so in a genteel manner.

In my opinion, probably the best wildlife spotting outside of the Serengeti/Mara during The Great Migration can be found in South Luangwa National Park near the border with Malawi. Of most interest is the large number of animals that cross the Luangwa River and pass through the many lodges on the south side of the river. If you want to get very close to nature with wild animals grazing outside of your tent or ambling through the lodge, then this is the place for you. Of course, this does mean one must be alert at all time within the lodges in case animals are near.

Commonly spotted within South Luangwa National Park are the hippo, elephant, crocodile, lion, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, impala, bushbuck, waterbuck, puku and even the usually elusive leopard. This park also allows one the rare opportunity of a walking safari where one is led by a guide and armed guard. Walking without the protection of a vehicle is quite an exciting experience. Park entrance fees are only US$25 which is less than half the price of the major parks in Tanzania or Kenya.

The other main highlight of Zambia is undoubtedly Victoria Falls (cost of US$20 to enter).  Best viewed in early morning or late afternoon, the falls are a usually damp encounter. The water levels at the falls vary dramatically – during the peak months of April to June, the falls can barely seen due to the immense amount of mist. Conversely, from October to December there is hardly any water and one does not feel or see the falls at anywhere near its best. February, March, July and August are considered to be the best times.

A little known fact is that during the full moon and one night either side Victoria Falls is open for viewing of the lunar rainbow for an additional US$25. The rainbow is only viewable when the water level is high, and there appeared to be no evening viewing from September to December inclusive. If you visit in the afternoon and wish to stay for the evening, then you need to leave the park just before 6pm (1800) in order to purchase the evening ticket.  The best viewing of the lunar rainbow is in the lookout areas before Knife-edge Bridge, but you will need to wait for the moon to rise enough to see the lunar rainbow there.

There are differing opinions as to which is the better side of the falls (Zimbabwe or Zambia) to view this natural wonder. Though more of the falls can be seen from Zimbabwe, the Zambia side allows one to get much closer to the falls and also the ability to walk to the bottom of the gorge at Boiling Pot. For me, Victoria Falls when viewed from Zambia does provide the better overall experience, but one should still visit both.

This area is also home to many adventure activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and helicopter rides. These can be pricey, so ensure you have sufficient funds if you wish to enjoy even a portion of what is on offer.

Livingstone is a small town ten kilometres away from Victoria Falls, and is a pleasant place to relax whilst touring the nearby sights. Ensure you take the time to look at the local museum which includes original (and mostly illegible) letters written by explorer David Livingstone.