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The Zambezi - Zambia

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The Zambezi River is one of the most important safari features in southern Africa.

Whilst most of the attention to safaris along its course have traditionally centred on the Zimbabwean destinations, Zambia offers access to some remote and uncrowded wilderness areas on the Zambezi.

Logistically it's sensible to divide the main areas on interest into the Upper and Lower Zambezi - the middle Zambezi, dominated by Lake Kariba is best tackled via Zimbabwe.

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The Upper Zambezi

The Upper Zambezi rises on the Benguela Plateau in Angola (its source at Kuleni Hill in Zambia is undramatic) and extends through Zambia's remote western region down to Victoria Falls. This western sector is extremely difficult to explore but includes the Barotse floodplain, Sioma National Park and Liuwa National Park - the region should only be tackled by experienced safari hands.

  • The ancient kingdom of Barotseland, whilst having a particularly interesting history and being an area where old Lozi customs have been retained by the inhabitants, there is no game to speak of other that herds of Nguni cattle - it remains an excellent area for fishing safaris.
  • Sioma National Park is a rough wilderness without any roads - the park protects a large population of elephant and it's the only place in Zambia outside of the South Luangwa in which you'll find giraffe - poaching is rife with incursions from Angola matching local pursuits.
  • Liuwa Plain National Park is a large grassy plain and woodland area - Liuwa plains witnesses Africa's second largest wildebeest migration - this is really worthwhile!

Livingstone and Victoria Falls

Zambia's Kalolo people call Victoria Falls "Mosi-oa-Tunya". The Zambian view on the falls is as spectacular as it is from Zimbabwe with excellent views on the Eastern Cataract and fine viewpoints from the Knife Edge Bridge and an ancient Baobab tree near the railway line appropriately called "The Look Out Tree".

As yet, Livingstone hasn't been as extensively developed as the town of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean bank but offers some excellent lodge accommodation and activities during the almost obligatory stay at Victoria Falls. Livingstone itself is also an important air charter hub from which connections to the Kafue, Luangwa and lower Zambezi regions are made.

The Lower Zambezi

The lower Zambezi River is essentially the stretch that runs downstream from Kariba Gorge to the Mozambican border. This section is particularly well known for Mana Pools National Park, the World Heritage Site on the Zimbabwean bank.

The Zambian shoreline has a selection of excellent safari lodges en route down towards the Lower Zambezi National Park. This park is still wild and relatively undeveloped. Elephant poaching in recent years has declined in the presence of safari operators in the area and game has improved dramatically as a result.

This part of the valley with its riverine forests, broad flood plain and woodlands in the hills towards and beyond the escarpment provides excellent habitats and the birding is spectacular year round. Access into the Lower Zambezi National Park during the green season is available but in our opinion not a good idea - an option is to canoe on the Zimbabwean shoreline during the rainy season. There is one particularly good canoe safari on the Zambian bank that ends at Mwambashi.

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