A remarkable environment
Earlier this year the BBC ran a tremendous series of documentaries on the wildlife of Africa, exploring the incredible diversity that exists on the continent. Many of the most memorable segments of the series featured some of the diverse animals that can be found in the national parks of Zambia.
From the arid fringes of the Kalahari Desert to the lush greenery of the Zambezi River plains, the environments of Zambia are varied and spectacular. The many parks of Zambia allow visitors to travel through these environments and under big African skies you’ll have the chance to experience some breath-taking sights.
Catching the big five
For a long time five animals have dominated the imagination of safari tourists travelling to Africa and all of them can be found in Zambia. Why don’t you see if you can track down all five during your stay in the country.
- African elephant: The enormous herbivore is one of the most impressive animals in the world and can be found at several parks around Zambia. The elephant’s love of tall grass can make them surprisingly hard to spot. The relatively undeveloped Sioma Ngwezi Park calls many elephants home so offers you a great chance to see the animals.
- Black rhinoceros: This critically endangered species of rhino was originally hunted to extinction in Zambia but has since been re-introduced to some of the country’s wilder parks, allowing guided tours to once more see the magnificent creature. The wild North Luangwa Park is the best place for you to catch a glimpse of this special creature.
- Cape buffalo: Surprisingly, this species of buffalo has been branded the most dangerous of the big five and has been reported to have killed more people in Africa than any other animal. Stick to the advice of your safari guides and you’ll have nothing to worry about. The Lower Zambezi Park has an intense concentration of the powerful beasts and is a great place to spot one.
- Lion: Often regarded as the crowning sight of any safari, the majestic power and bearing of Lions make them a must see. There’s nothing like witnessing these amazing animals in their natural environment. Check them out at the Kafue Park, one of Africa’s largest reserves.
- Leopard: A nocturnal nature and an incredible aptitude for stealth make the leopard one of the most difficult animal to spot during safaris but it’s well worth trying to find the sleek big cat during your stay in Zambia. As with the lions, you’ll find a good chance to spot leopards at Kafue Park.
These animals may be the big draws but they only represent a tiny percentage of the wildlife you’re likely to find during your trip. You’ll get the chance to see hyena, wild dogs, warthogs, zebra, primates, antelope, giraffes… you get the idea! Pack your camera and make sure you have plenty of memory and a spare battery or two because you might need it.
Making the most of your stay
Even if you’re drawn to Zambia to spend time in the wilderness you should make time to enjoy a few of the other sites around the country. The Zambian capital Lusaka has an intriguing mix of the old and new and is a great place to spend some time.
New buildings and high-rises sit right next to ancient markets in this vibrant city, providing an interesting cultural mix and energy that is really exciting. You’ll also find that excellent Lusaka hotels are the perfect place to prepare for your safari adventure, and to relax and unwind when your trip is coming to a close.
When you get out of the city the animals are not the only draw. The Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya, are one of the greatest natural wonders in the world providing views that have stunned international travellers to the region since the famous explorer David Livingstone first cast eyes upon them in 1855.
A trip to Zambia wouldn’t be complete without seeing this awesome natural spectacle. As your senses absorb the mighty scale of the Zambezi River as it tumbles down a 355ft drop you’ll truly appreciate the meaning of the local name for the waterfall – the smoke that thunders.
Are you planning on going on a safari? What animals do you want to see most?