Makes Zambia Safari Unique?
by: Enestle Zimba
Zambia is Africa's best
kept secret. It is the sleeping giant of African
safari. It's also the friendly people and the
peace the country safeguards and continues to
enjoy. That's what makes the country a haven of
peace for refuges from civil strive. …And Zambia
is the hub of African travel.
Zambia is located in south
central Africa with eight neighboring countries.
There are 19 national parks and 34 game
management areas. Thus a whopping 30 percent of
the country's 752,614 sq kms. The country has
the largest water resources in southern Africa.
There are large empty tracts of land in pristine
state and a large wildlife estate. Zambia's
unique natural resources include minerals such
as copper, precious stones and lumber; both
native hard wood and soft exotic pinewood
The National Parks,
Of the 19 national parks
South Luangwa is Zambia's premier game reserve.
The South Luangwa National Park has probably the
largest variety and concentration of game in
Africa and perhaps in the world. Experts in
wildlife safari consider the 9,990 sq kms park
has some of the finest viewing areas. It is
rated one of the top game reserves in the world
with a unique profusion of wildlife. Some
animals are rare and only found in the park. An
example is the Thornicraft giraffe.
Another game reserve is
the Kafue National Park. The sprawling 22,400 sq
kms is the second largest national park in the
world and is about the size of Wales in Britain
and twice the size of Yellowstone National Park
in the USA. The park is located in the
central-western Zambia and boasts excellent game
viewing, bird watching and fishing.
The park has two unique
wetlands. The Busanga Floodplain in the northern
sector is special. The emerald green Lunga,
Lufupa and Kafue Rivers crisscross it. Here are
found multi-species of animals and birds. The
Busanga plain is an antelope country. The
endemic lechwe fill its plains. The park's
southern limit also breaks into another wetland
the Nanzhila Plains. The plains are next to
Zambia's newest lake at the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam.
Copper and Gemstone
Apart from the fauna and
flora estate the country holds 6 percent of the
worlds copper reserves. In addition Zambia is
the leading producer of precious and
semi-precious gemstones including the rare
beauty, the green emerald. Amethyst, garnet,
tourmaline, citrine and their verities are also
found in Zambia. Most of the finished and
semi-finished gemstone products are exported
Tracts of Land and the
The population to land
ratio is one of the lowest in Africa. At less
than 15 people per sq km it is one of the lowest
in the world. The sparse population has left a
large portion of Zambia unspoiled and in its
You get to see teeming
wildlife in pristine wilderness. The wildlife is
completely ‘wild and untamed.' Some of the
animals have had little or no contact with
humans. So the national parks present wildlife
in its natural habitat, the very same way nature
has always wanted it to be.
The Rivers and Lakes of
Zambia's major rivers,
lakes and wetlands are considered to hold the
largest component of water resources in Southern
Africa. There are four major rivers. The Zambezi
covers the largest part of Zambia from northwest
through southern to southeastern. The Kafue cuts
the country in the middle. The Luangwa nearly
cuts off the eastern part of the country. But
the Chambeshi that discharge into Lake Bangweulu
in north-central Zambia has suffered name
changes along its course. After leaving
Bangweulu it changes its name to Luapula River.
It becomes the Congo River on leaving Lake Mweru
and entering the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the south is Lake
Kariba on the Zambezi. It was the largest
man-made lake until the Aswan and the Cobara
Bassa were dammed. Lake Kariba is the latest
destination for safari investment besides the
Victoria Falls. Another is Lake Bangweulu
surrounded by white sand beaches and by the
tenth largest wetland in Africa. The wetland is
the home of the endemic lechwe antelopes and the
rare shoebill stork. The third is Lake Mweru on
the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.
And Lake Tanganyika Africa's deepest lake has
its southern tip extending into northern Zambia.
The Wild Zambezi River
One river that deserves
mentioning is the Zambezi River after which the
country is named. From its source near Kaleni
Hills in the northwestern corner of the country
the Zambezi cuts a lying down “S” shape as it
flows through its course a total of 3,450 kms
before discharging into the Indian Ocean. Its
entrance at the ocean is dramatic for it ends in
many river channels called a delta.
The Zambezi passes through
changing landscapes and environment. From the
rapids in the notrhwest through the wide river
and the site of the “Likumbi Lya Mize” ceremony
of the Luvale people. It then passes through the
Zambezi floodplain where the Ku-omboka ceremony
of the Lozi people takes place. Later the river
traverses a hilly area and becomes wide and
tranquil. Suddenly the river breaks into the
world's most spectacular waterfall. This is the
mystic and awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.
Before the waterfall the
Zambezi passes through a point near Kazungula
where four countries meet; Namibia, Botswana,
Zimbabwe and Zambia. Nowhere else do countries
converge on one point in a manner such as this.
Down stream of the
waterfall the Zambezi collects into a lake at
Kariba Dam. Down stream it is joined firstly by
the Kafue, Zambia's second largest river and
secondly by the Luangwa River at a confluence
where three countries meet: Mozambique, Zambia
and Zimbabwe. …And before its mouth at the
Indian Ocean the Zambezi River forms the second
and larger lake at Cobara-Basa Dam in
The Beautiful Victoria
Now the Victoria Falls is
something worth talking about. Its awesome,
beautiful and a world heritage site. The
Toka-Leya people of Chief Mukuni who have always
lived there have built many shrines for their
deities and ceremonies. Because of the
continuous thunder from the largest curtain of
falling water and the accompanying mist that
plumes from the bottom of the gorge they have
called the waterfall “Mosi-Oa-Tunya” meaning the
“smoke that thunders”. But I like the other
name. “Shungu wa Mutitima.”
Little wonder Dr David
Lingstone the famous Scottish missionary doctor
and explorer could not resist to write in his
dairy, “…scenes so lovely must have been gazed
upon by angels in their flight.” Because the
beauty is awesome. Dr Livingstone was the first
European to see the waterfall on November 16,
1855. He named it after Queen Victoria.
At the bottom of the falls
are red Kalahari sands. Opposite the waterfall
it rains 24 hours a day 7 days a week (24/7).
This mist rain nurtures a small rainforest. And
two rain bows too. One is seen during the day
and the second occurs at night on a full moon.
These are the popular solar and lunar rainbows
of Victoria Falls …but then that's another
Adventure Centre and the
After the Victoria Falls
the Zambezi River passes through nine gorges it
has cut down 122 metres deep. The nine gorges
are in fact former waterfalls at different
stages of the development and migration of the
falls up stream. This migration covers the past
150 million years!
Now the gorges are a
spectacular sight. They also form part of the
area where adrenaline pumping adventures take
place – whitewater rafting over 22 rapids, bungi
jumping through 122 metres, gorge swinging,
abseiling, river boarding, jet boating, etc. It
is for this reason that Livingstone town near
the Victoria Falls is now recognized as the
Southern Africa Adventure Centre.
If you have a daredevil
spirit take to the air in a microlight flight.
Fly over the Victoria Falls, watch animals in
the nearby Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park…and get
really close to the cascading water of the
world's largest curtain of falling water. But if
you would rather like mundane pastime then you
might want to enjoy the “Flight of Angels.” Hire
a helicopter or indeed a rigid wing airplane.
Even this choice will be your life's memorable
Where to Stay
The banks of the Zambezi
River are dotted with many lodges and camping
sites. A visit to the Zambezi Waterfront might
be what you want. More interesting though is the
theme designs of most lodges. They have a strong
African architectural style.
The Sun International
resort is the latest inclusion and is built
closest to the Victoria Falls. The resort is a
combo of two hotels: one, the Zambezi Sun is a
three star hotel only minutes from the Victoria
Falls and the other the Royal Livingstone is a
five star royal opulence.
The red walls of the
Zambezi Sun depict decorative symbols of
prehistoric times. The colour of these African
drawings is similar to the Kalahari sands found
at the bottom of the falls. But the luxury of
the Royal Livingstone is all very different. The
ever present butlers and staff wear uniforms
reminiscent of the dress of Dr Livingstone at
the time he discovered the waterfalls one and
half centuries ago. He named the waterfalls in
honour of Victoria, then queen of England.
Next to the Mosi-Oa-Tunya
National Park is another new hotel. Chrismar
Hotel has just been completed near the 60 sq km
national game park. It's as if the hotels and
lodges are ‘popping' up everyday!
In Lusaka the capital city
of Zambia you'll find other exciting hotels and
lodges; the 5 star Taj Pamodzi, the 5 star Hotel
Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and other fine
The private game lodges
are all within fifty kms. Popular ones are the
Lilayi Lodge, the Protea Safari Lodge, and
Chaminuka. But Siavonga at Lake Kariba has
exciting lakeshore lodges. It's only a two-hour
drive from Lusaka. My advice…you'll enjoy the
hospitality of Zambia!
How to Get to Zambia
The choice is wide. You
can choose to arrive by air and land at any of
the four international airports that have full
custom and immigration facilities. Mfuwe
International Airport is on the boundary with
the Zambian premier game reserve, the South
Laungwa National Park. Another is at Ndola on
the Copperbelt of Zambia. And yet another is the
Lusaka International Airport 22 kms from the
capital city of Zambia. But Livingstone
International Airport is special. Only 8 kms
from the Victoria Falls whose first sighting you
get from the air on approach to landing.
And then you may choose to
arrive by road from any of the eight
neighbouring countries but mainly from Bostwana,
Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Get on a plane or car and
come to Zambia …And you'll leave without ever
forgetting Zambia safari!