When most people think of taking a trip to Africa, the first destinations they mention they want to visit is typically South Africa, Tanzania, and Botswana. All those destinations are fantastic! But what most people don’t realize is that Zambia is one of Africa’s premier safari destinations and there are a lot of reasons why travelers should consider traveling to Zambia instead of, or in addition to, some of the more mainstream safari destinations.
Below are our top 9 reasons to take a trip to Zambia – Africa’s hidden safari gem:
1. The BEST walking safari tours in Africa: Arguably the best way to get up-close to the wildlife of Africa while also interacting with local cultures is by embarking on a Zambia walking safari tour. Many of Zambia’s top accommodations near South Luangwa National Park offer daily walking safaris, guided by top field guides who are also locals, born and raised in the area.
During these walking safaris, guests are able to learn about the local culture (there’s no better way to get this experience than by interacting with a local who grew up in the area!), as well as the residential wildlife that calls Zambia home.
One of the things I love most about chatting with guides is learning about their family roots. You will find that many of the guides you interact with have parents, grandparents, and great grandparents who were also guides in the area and who passed down their knowledge each generation.
In addition to the delightful interaction with your guides, you will also witness some of Zambia’s most spectacular wildlife while on foot, including elephant, giraffe, warthog, peculiar insects, hippo, wild dog, and warthog, as well as the opportunity to witness over 500 species of bird!
2. Fantastic value for the money: One of the most expensive countries to visit in Africa has to be Botswana. This is because Botswana is not only gorgeous, but it’s also home to exceptional wildlife and accommodations, and has been mentioned for years in prominent travel publications. But I have to say, Zambia offers just as wonderful of an experience as Botswana and is much more affordable but equally as beautiful. When you take a trip to Zambia, you will certainly save on luxurious and boutique accommodations that are all-inclusive and have one of the best safari experiences you could ever ask for.
3. See the Big Five without the crowds: Some of the more crowded national parks and conservancies include Kruger National Park in South Africa, Masai Mara in Kenya, and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Although all of these areas are fantastic for game viewing, you are likely to see some other game vehicles while out on safari.
If you want an experience where you will witness the Big Five, but rarely (possibly never) see another game drive vehicle, then a Zambia safari vacation is perfect for you! You will rarely, if ever, have to make room for other vehicles while on safari, so if you see a lion or pack of wild dogs that you want to follow, you don’t have to worry about giving other people the chance to get up close to them—they’re all yours!
4. Stay at some of Africa’s BEST accommodations: Some of our favorite boutique, luxury lodges and camps in Africa are in gorgeous, remote regions of Zambia. Many of these properties only have 4 – 10 suites, which means guests experience the ultimate in first-class service and personal attention. A few of our favorite properties include Bilimungwe Bushcamp, Sausage Tree Camp, and Sussi & Chuma – just to name a few!
Photo above of Bilimungwe Bushcamp, taken from The Bushcamp Company Facebook Page
5. Visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – Victoria Falls: The beautiful and riveting Victoria Falls straddles Zimbabwe AND Zambia, so travelers on an African safari vacation can enjoy spectacular views of Victoria Falls from either country. You can even cross the border for a day trip if you’d like to see the Falls from the Zimbabwean side.
6. Witness the bats in Kasanka: Ever wonder what 5 million bats looks like? Well at Kasanka National Park, during the months of November and December, fruit bats migrate to the area to feast on tasty wild fruits that are beginning to ripen. This is truly a magnificent and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon to witness in person!
7. Go on an epic birding safari: In South Luangwa National Park alone, travelers will find over 400 species of bird, making it a top destination for avid birders. Some of the birds you might see during your adventures in Zambia include a variety of eagles, goshawks, owls, thrush, and other colorful birds. It’s also important to note that the best time to view birds in Zambia, when they are most vocal and active, is during the months between April and November.
8. Canoe the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park: One of my favorite activities to do in all of Africa is a canoeing safari down the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park. During these exciting Zambia safari tours, expert guides take you along the Zambezi, pointing out some of the river’s residential birdlife and mammals. You’ll often spot crocodile, hippo, elephant, giraffe, and other large game.
9. Interact with some of the warmest people in the world: The people of Zambia are some of the most hospitable and delightful people you will ever meet, and they truly make a stay in Zambia complete. From your personal guides to your camp staff and the local people, you will interact with a variety of individuals throughout your trip to Zambia. And I promise, you will enjoy your interactions with each and every one of them.