The best safari parks in Zambia are regarded as some of the most beautiful, friendly, diverse and unspoilt spaces on the entire African continent. This landlocked country is bordered by eight others and has a year-round tropical climate.
While Victoria Falls, not surprisingly, tends to steal the limelight, Zambia has an array of wonderful waterfalls, rapids, and cataracts on the many rich waterways that dissect the country. The game reserves provide a pristine sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife and boast some of the best game viewing opportunities in the world. These include the North and South Parks on the Luangwa River, the wide expanse of the Lower Zambezi, and the vast and less-explored Kafue region.
Zambia can easily boast about its array of wildlife, birds, fish and more due to its tropical climate and ever-flowing rivers that support it all. From endemic Lechwe, zebra, and giraffe to endangered rhinos and wild dogs, a safari in Zambia is always rewarding. There are a total of 242 mammalian species here, and many endemic to the country. But Zambia attracts the avid fisherman or birder almost more so than the safari-goer. An estimated 757 bird species are known to exist and roughly 490 known fish species, the Tigerfish is one of the most popular.
Wild Safari Guide has narrowed the best safari parks in Zambia down to these five excellent choices.
South Luangwa National Park is a wildlife sanctuary like no other and one that captivates safari-goers time and time again. With an elevated escarpment in the west and the mighty Luangwa River in the east, this natural paradise stretches over 9 000 square kilometres of the Zambian landscape.
South Luangwa National Park carries its status as a wildlife wonderland with pride. More than 60 mammal species traverse the park’s landscape with the world’s highest naturally occurring population of leopard among them. Other predators include prides of lion and even packs of wild dogs. Big herds of elephants, buffalo and hippo mill in and around the water while 14 different antelope species also calling the park home.
As one of the best safari parks in Zambia, it is a dream destination for bird watchers with some 400 species crisscrossing the sky, dominated by 39 different birds of prey. Carmine bee-eaters, weavers and kingfishers are a dime a dozen along the Luangwa riverbanks.
Walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park will bring memories to last a lifetime. The game drives in the park are also without comparison. Mountain biking is possible in the Tafika region while excellent birding can also be ticked off the must-do list.
Kasanka National Park offers a diverse ecosystem in a small pocket of Zambia in the basin of Lake Bangweulu. Kasanka’s claim to fame is its unique annual bat migration that sees millions of small fruit bats descend upon a patch of swampy forest. This rare phenomenon of bats rowing through the sky happens annually in Kasanka from November-December.
The rich ecosystem gives rise to a contrasting environment that supports rare species such as the wattled crane, blue monkey, sitatunga and Ross’s turaco. The park supports plenty of antelope, zebra, hippo and crocodiles. Rare sitatunga, bushbuck, blue duiker, serval and blue monkeys are a few of the other common residents within the national park.
The relative lack of dangerous animals in one of the best safari parks in Zambia opens up a world of activities for visitors to enjoy. Popular in the park is the wilderness walking trails spanning one to three days. Mountain biking along the well-maintained network of roads is yet another adventurous way of exploring the wild. The lakes and waterways provide the perfect conditions for canoeing and fishing activities.
The biodiverse region in the Luangwa River Valley where the Luambe National Park lies offers eager safari-goers the opportunity to escape the crowds and experience a safari in an exclusive area with little disturbance.
Elephant, buffalo, hyena, lion, leopard, Crawshay’s zebra and Thornicroft’s giraffe are just a few of the mammals to spot in Luambe. In conjunction with these species, there are plenty of other herbivores and smaller creatures dwelling on the floodplains. Birding is huge in Luambe with thousands upon thousands of carmines creating a fluttering of colour.
This small park is a magnet for wildlife and is best explored on foot. Walking safaris can last anywhere from a day to a few days. Game drives in the park provide the perfect way to cover plenty of ground, which can’t be done on foot. Drives are conducted at peak predator time, which is early in the morning and at night. Night game drives offer a thrilling experience in the untamed wild.
Kafue National Park is considered the largest and oldest conservation area in the country, and also one of the best safari parks in Zambia. Kafue lies off the beaten track and spans 22 000 square kilometres.
The park is considered one of the best in Africa—thanks to its wildlife-rich landscapes. The Park derives its popularity from the diversity and size of its wildlife. Visitors can expect to spot large herds of puku, red lechwe, zebra, and blue wildebeest, and several lion prides can also be found close to puku and lechwe, as these two generally serve as meals.
Over 500 bird species can be spotted fluttering across the Zambian skies in Kafue National Park, so avid birders are encouraged to bring along their binoculars for some awesome sightings.
For those who want to experience excellent and diverse wildlife, land safaris such as guided game drives offer great insight. Avid anglers can book a fishing excursion on the Kafue River, while canoeing and walking safaris allow visitors to get up close and personal with the resident wildlife.
Covering an area of just over 4,000 square kilometres, the Lower Zambezi National Park in the southeast of Zambia is a sight to behold for those choosing this destination for an African safari. The lush landscape of the park teems with a variety of species that will delight visitors.
All the members of the Big Five occur here, except rhino. Elephants and buffalo wander from island to island on the Zambezi River along with a variety of antelopes. The big cats are well represented by prides of lions and several leopards that can usually be found draped over the branches of the big trees.
For the avid birders, close to 400 species will keep the binoculars busy—water dwellers like darters, cormorants, egrets, storks, and fish eagles, as well as five species of kingfishers. A classic walking safari will provide a different take on the natural world in one of the best safari parks in Zambia. Specialist birding safaris will keep visitors enthralled while a taste of the local culture can be experienced with a visit to the Goba villages.