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. It is top-and-tailed by a dramatic escarpment in the north and the astonishing Mana Pools in the south.
The park is a water wonderland with its position on the northern banks of the Zambezi River and incorporating the Kariba Dam and the thunderous Victoria Falls. The floodplain habitat is interspersed with woodland savannah consisting of giant Miombo, Mopane and Zambezian trees. A variety of Acacia are also prevalent with pods from the winterthorn a delectable treat for elephants.
Rich and diverse wildlife exist within the park’ borders. Safari-goers can expect to see big herds of elephant and other larger mammals that gather on the floodplain. Among the myriad of birds, the cry of the fish eagle is unmistakable.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is around 200 kilometre from the Zambian capital of Lusaka where most visitors will arrive via international flights. From there it is possible to get on a chartered flight to a number of airstrips close to the park or with the help with a tour operator. Self-drive is also an option but only in a 4WD vehicle.
The Lower Zambezi National Park offers so much more than just wildlife viewing from the comfort of a safari vehicle. Visitors can go on guided walking trips or take to the water for a canoe safari or fishing experience.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is home to numerous lion prides as well as leopards and spotted hyenas. Wild dogs are also present again after years of absence.
The lush landscape of the Lower Zambezi National 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 a number of leopards that can usually be found draped over the branches of the big trees.
Sightings of wild dogs have also been reported. An abundance of hippos and crocodiles lurk in the water where tiger fish and bream are most numerous. 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.
Visitors to the Lower Zambezi National Park should keep in mind that all safari operations come to a halt during the rainy season from the end of November till April. The best wildlife viewing is between May and November when animals are more visible and the roads are still passable. Just be aware that October and November can be extremely hot with temperatures during the day hovering around 40 degrees Celsius.
The Lower Zambezi River is the source not only for an abundance of wildlife in the park but also for safari-goers that plan to take to the water in a canoe for a game viewing experience like no other. Furthermore, it provides the perfect opportunity for anglers to enjoy catch-and-release for a variety of fish species. A classic walking safari will provide a different take on the natural world while a hike to the Change Falls adds something unique. Specialist birding safaris will keep visitors enthralled while a taste of the local culture can be experienced with a visit to the Goba villages.
Overnight facilities in the Lower Zambezi National Park cater for all tastes and budgets. Visitors can opt for luxury at high-end lodges while tented camps will give the feeling of a true African safari. Almost all establishments offer canoeing and walking excursions in addition to guided game drives.