The Best Safari Destinations in Zambia


Great For: Connecting with your wild side; overland adventure.

Highlights: The beauty of surprise; tracking predators.

Kafue is enormous. Grasslands merge into woodlands in a park that’s bigger than many European countries. It’s a classic safari destination, where there is a lot of life but you need to have a little patience.

Tree-climbing lions, wild dogs, cheetahs…you can track rare predators here. Puku, red lechwe, wildebeest, waterbuck…there’s a thrilling range of antelope gathering in herds.

Expect drama and expect the unexpected as a wildlife theatre plays out. The Busanga Plains to the north have the best animal densities, so focus your safari there or choose an overland journey through the park, allowing three days from north to south.

Best Time to Visit Kafue National Park: This is a seasonal park that gets better as it gets drier. August to October is best, but May to November will always deliver a good safari experience.

Also Consider: Samburu (in Kenya) or Ruaha (in Tanzania) for a similar sense of safari and surprise.

Combine With: South Luangwa and Victoria Falls.

Lower Zambezi

Great For: Discovering a pristine wilderness; using all your senses.

Highlights: Hippos and elephants.

Part lush wetland and part thick forest, with a famous river running the length of the park… the Lower Zambezi has all the basics to attract a fabulous wealth of wildlife, including buffalo and hippo that swim over from Mana Pools in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Hippos and elephants are the major draw cards, thousands of them to watch and wonder over. You’ll find predators as well, along with muddy trails that make every day feel like an adventure.

A World Heritage landscape and once the private reserve of a Zambian president, Lower Zambezi National Park is where you escape into nature and watch the big mammals directly from your lodge.

Best Time to Visit Lower Zambezi National Park: This is a dry season park and the animal population multiplies from July through to October. The shoulder months can also be good.

Also Consider: Mana Pools in Zimbabwe is very similar, just harder to get to and attracting far fewer people.

Combine With: South Luangwa and Victoria Falls for the classic Zambian itinerary.

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

Great For: The power of nature.

Highlights: Victoria Falls and rhino walking safari.

You can hear Victoria Falls long before you see the cascades. And sometimes there’s so much spray and mist you can’t see Victoria Falls at all. Which is why we prefer the spectacle’s indigenous name: Mosi-oa-Tunya. It means the smoke that thunders.

Baboons guard the trails and you walk across narrow bridges to cataracts in the Zambezi. There’s a bungee jump, canoeing past hippos, helicopter flights and many other adventurous activities.

Perhaps the finest is a safari in the savannah north of the falls, where you are able to walk on a land occupied by white rhinos; it’s incredible how close you can get on foot.

Best Time to Visit Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park: Peak flow is May to July and the best evocation of Mosi-oa-Tunya’s power. But it’s beautiful all year around.

Also Consider: Walking across the bridge and seeing the falls from the Zimbabwean side.

Combine With: From nearby Livingstone you are at an African crossroads. Travel west to Namibia, south to Botswana or Zimbabwe, north to Luangwa and Tanzania.

North Luangwa

Great For: Africa’s best walking safari.

Highlights: Exclusivity and wildness of the experience.

The northern section of Zambia’s biggest wilderness is the best place in Africa for a walking safari. This national park is closed to the public and to vehicles, with access restricted to guests on a guided multi-day walking safari.

There are no set trails, just a wildlife-rich habitat that takes you from mopane woodland to riverine forest and open grasslands. Most walks focus on the Mwaleshi River, a magnet for migratory mammals and an opportunity for highly intimate encounters.

Elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, hippos…you really are walking through big-game Africa, enjoying one of the greatest safari immersions possible. Wild? North Luangwa almost redefines the word.

Best Time to Visit North Luangwa: Safaris are only possible here from June to October; the park is closed for the rest of the year. July and August are the coolest months.

Also Consider: Botswana for a walking safari.

Combine With: Game drives in South Luangwa; safari in Southern Tanzania.

South Luangwa

Great For: A wonderfully rounded safari experience in a national park.

Highlights: Nighttime drives; leopards; value for money.

Leopards stalk impala in the forest. Buffalo and elephants splash in the river. Lions hunt and vultures swirl. South Luangwa is Zambia’s flagship safari destination and you’ll encounter a rich mix of animals and scenes.

With its varied habitats and propensity of four-legged giants, this is a park that puts Zambia on the tourist map. However, the real highlight here is the range of activities.

It’s rare that a national park offers such a rounded wildlife impression; nighttime drives and game walks are integral to the program, not just add-ons.

It can be hard to get here but you will be rewarded in a park that’s a favourite of safari aficionados. South Luangwa is also superb value for money.

Best Time to Visit South Luangwa: June plus September to November are best, with dry season conditions yet no peak season (July and August) crowds. Many lodges close from March to May.

Also Consider: Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania has a similar focus on varied safari activities.

Combine With: North Luangwa walking safari or parks in Southern Tanzania.