TOP 10 EXPERIENCES IN ZAMBIA
Zambia is a vast country with a huge amount of land dedicated to conservation of the landscapes and wildlife. Home to one of the seven wonders of the world and some of African most authentic safari experiences so how many of them are you ready to put into your next trip? We outline some of our favourites below but there are many more, message us for more adventure ideas!
SPECIALIST BIRD SAFARIS (SHOEBILL, CARMINE, BATS)
There are a lot of unique and endemic species in Zambia and more so in the animals that fly! From the birds to the bats there are several migratory and endangered species that are available at limited times of the year you may wish to consider when planning your trip! The most popular and easy to see is the Carmine bee-eaters who arrive late-August and leave at the end of November. Arriving in their hundreds they make nests along the river banks where they mate and lay their eggs and wait for the chicks to hatch. Carmine bee-eaters follow a yearly migration route— from August to November they reside in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. During the summer months, they fly to their southernmost habitats in South Africa, before eventually returning north to the lush rainforests of equatorial Africa from March to August. The shoebills are a prehistoric gigantic bird that live in the Bangweulu Wetlands, almost poached to extinction the birds are making a comeback and this is a must for any serious twitcher looking to tick off all the bird species.
And finally the bats! Between October and December annually 10 million fruit bats fly through Kasanka National Park into a tiny forest creating the largest migration , yes bigger than the wildebeest, in search of the abundant waterberries, mangoes, wild loquats and red-milkwood berries. Feasting on about two kilos of fruit per bat per night then the head on with their journey! A once in a lifetime experience.
A walking safari is a wild adventure that ironically allows you to slow down to appreciate all the smaller animals, look at the trees, listen to the birds and involve all your senses as you navigate the bush. You can learn how the guides look for clues and cues of where an animal is and take the thrill of approaching some of the bigger game by foot. This isn’t as strenuous as it sounds. You often do not go so far (unless you want to) stopping to see, touch, smell and even taste what is around you! Have you ever seen a termite mound up close and learnt all about the cities of heated chambers below the soil line? Or know the difference between a squirrel alarm call for the cats or a snake? This is the time to slow down and see just how everything works and fits together. A must for those who are able!
CANOE SAFARI LZ
Canoeing in the Zambezi River will forever be one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences I have had. Perhaps that doesn’t sell it well! The relaxing lull of being in the water, watching the animals as they come down to drink or bathe, floating gently towards them accepted as part of the river life tied with the excitement and nervousness at not being in a car and often smaller than the animals you are viewing! It was a way to see the waterbirds up close and see the animals at eye level. Coupled with the nervous energy that you can only paddle downstream so the shake of a matriarch elephant's head gives you a warning you take note of unlike in the car! A must do for anyone visiting the Lower Zambezi or Kafue National Parks.
For those of us who don’t or haven’t fished then this one may not seem likely, for those that love fishing I’m sure it has already checked off your list and been added to your next trip already! However, tiger fishing is so much fun, from catching the bait fish, to reeling in your very first fish it is a thrilling experience for anyone with an interest. Not to mention this is a time to sit back, relax, chat to your guides, have a few drinks and enjoy a gentle safari along the river. That is until the line tugs then it is all hands-on deck to reel in your massive (we won’t tell!) catch beaming eagerly for a picture then releasing the monster back to the river!
RHINOS ON FOOT
The prehistoric cripplingly endangered rhino resides in two areas of Zambia, at Victoria Falls and in North Luangwa. In each area you can have the thrill of getting up close to these beasts on foot. Habituated to humans who provide 24hr protection to the heavily poached creatures it is perfectly safe, with the guidance of your guide and scout, to get close to these fascinating animals and watch them as they go about their daily life. With dwindling populations thanks to poaching this is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of the majestic rhino before they disappear from existence altogether.
BOAT SAFARI KAFUE
A boat safari is a lovely way to get to see animals at eye level. Float along the river as you watch the many animals that come down to drink and bathe from the heat of the day. Peer along the tree line looking for leopards relaxing in the branches escaping the heat and hiding from the animals that give away their spots. Marvel at the many water birds around, watch kingfishers as they dive in the water looking for their next catch or watch as the crowned cranes elegantly walk along the water's edge looking for frogs and snails to eat. Sit on the floor of the boat for a great vantage point with your camera to photograph upward to the animal from water level. A lovely relaxing way to spend a lazy or eventful afternoon in the bush.
Have you ever stared over the edge of a waterfall in your swimsuit as the water rushed around you over the lip? Here you have the quite frankly insane opportunity to sit in a pool on the waterfall edge as the water rushes around you down the falls and into the gorge below. If you ever wanted to appreciate just how high the falls are then this is the place to do it. Not for the faint hearted it is a thrilling adventure and the swim to supersede all others! Make sure you have your camera with you so the guides can take one of your most daring portraits!
HOT AIR BALLOON KAFUE
A hot air balloon is one of the calmest and most magical ways to do a safari from the sky. Allow the guide to tell you the history of the lands, explain the natural formations, forests and of course point out the wildlife. Float across the Busanga Plains of northern Kafue as you look out for herds of elephant, buffalo and pods of hippos. Map out the network of river pathways and lower into sightings of the cats or dogs. This breathtaking trip is best done at sunrise so you have the added magic of golden hour from the sky followed by a champagne breakfast. An indulgent treat is something you will never want to end nor ever forget.
Unique vantage points seem to have been a theme in this to do list however this truly is a thrilling experience. From low heights above the South Luangwa National Park you can take a micro light safari, flying just overhead of giant herds of elephant, buffalo, hippos and plains game you can see just how vast the park is and how many animals are within. An incredible photographic opportunity to catch the animals from above, playing with shadows, landscapes and sheer numbers it is an incredible way to see the animals hiding ‘off road”. You are low enough that you will see the predators too, the pride of lions under the tree, the pack of dogs covering vast areas on the hunt and a lone leopard searching from a vantage point for its next meal. It truly is a unique experience and one worth considering.
HELICOPTER VIC FALLS
As one of the seven wonders of the world it would be sacrilegious to come to Zambia and not consider seeing the falls. Named Musi O Tunya the smoke that thunders, this incredible mass of water that rushes over the gorge edge into the rapids below is a sight not to be missed. The sheer volume of water that passes through spraying the surrounding pathways with splashback and creating rainbows through the spray droplets. There are many ways to see the falls, on foot, at sunrise or sunset, from below river rafting but the best, we think, is by air. From here you can appreciate the sheer size of the falls and see the magnitude of the water force, carving the landscape below. This private tour is the ultimate treat and an excellent photographic opportunity for those that truly want a special activity to complete their trip!