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Zambia, Southern Africa

 
If you love the thought of a slow immensely fascinating three-hour bush walk with a world class guide, dream of paddling a two-man canoe down the Zambezi as elephants cavort at the water’s edge and kingfishers dive or crave the excitement of watching a gorgeous leopard move with graceful power through the savannah, you’ll certainly enjoy a Zambia safari experience.
A Zambia safari is for people who like their safaris a little more active and adventurous and because the best camps have been set up by enterprising guides, the accommodation, while certainly comfortable, is at heart a 'bush camp' each with its own personality. The Zambezi is one of the world’s great rivers, up to half a mile wide. Its faster flowing near Victoria Falls, slower and filled with wildlife 500 miles east by the Lower Zambezi National Park. From June to November the Lower Zambezi teems with wildlife. The highlight of a Zambia safari in the Lower Zambezi has to be the unforgettable sight of elephants emerging from the bush at the end of a long day to drink, splash themselves down, play and relax on the river. You could sit in a boat with a cool drink and watch them forever. Further east the South Luangwa in the southern end of the Rift Valley, has some of the best walking country criss-crossed by wildlife, paths, cool streams and a scattering of lagoons, you see huge herds of buffalo, giraffe, antelope, big cats and more elephant. West of Lusaka, the Busanga Plains are exceptionally beautiful, flat grassy plains with islands of trees and of course no Zambia safari would be complete without seeing Victoria Falls – a mile width of cascading water forcing a spray cloud hundreds of feet into the air.
Zambia
Zambia
 
Zambia is one of the richest wildlife viewing destinations in Southern Africa, and its wonders stretch far beyond the Luangwa Valley. The mighty mammals of the Lower Zambezi ensure awesome wildlife encounters, and the Liuwa Plain offers an incomparable wilderness experience and a vast migration.
 
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Victoria Falls at sunset with rainbow in the spray
Safari guests walking near buffalo herd in South Luangwa
 
Summer rains start to fall and Victoria Falls grows in size and power. Dry, seemingly barren plants spring into life, and birds are in their element feasting on plants and insects which pop out between the showers. Game viewing in the green season is excellent in the South Luangwa. With plenty of water in the rivers and lagoons you can take boat safaris as well as game drives and walks.
 
Victoria Falls is at its most respondent: the power of the water, and breadth of the falls will take your breath away. Elsewhere in Zambia the waters start to recede, making remote areas of Luangwa and Kafue accessible once again. Animals are well fed and the bird watching is second to none. See large flocks of migrants and resident species, especially along the quiet waterways. The parks are also generally uncrowded.
 
It’s the start of Zambia’s dry season. Roads have dried out and all lodges and camps are open. There’s still enough colour in the vegetation to create beautiful backdrops for wildlife viewing, and the soft, warm light is ideal for photography. The concentration of game is increasing, especially around watering holes, and the weather is wonderful for walking. There are still few other tourists around, which further increases the appeal.
 
Prime time for a safari in Zambia is in July or August. On a family holiday, everyone can get active. Canoe, walk, and take game drives in the parks, then head down to Victoria Falls for adrenalin-fuelled rafting on the Zambezi River, zip lining across the gorge, or a helicopter flight over the falls themselves.
 
The dry season is at its climax, but though the landscape at first looks dry and empty, soon the trees open into bud in anticipation of the forthcoming rains. Game viewing is relatively easy as the drought forces animals out of thickets to find water along the rivers. Guides know exactly where they’ll be. Sightings of elephant, antelope, and hippo are guaranteed, and there’s a good chance of spotting predators.
 
Towards the end of the year the first dramatic thunderstorms arrive. Clouds roll in across the plains and thunderbolts flash across the sky. This is low season and although the more remote camps close, all weather camps will still be open and thrilled to see you. Prices are generally lower. If you want to see Victoria Falls without the crowds, November and December are good months.
 
Permanent water sources - mighty rivers and well filled lakes - flow across the Zambian landscape, bringing life to the national parks. Thirsty elephant never have to walk too far to find a drink or mud to wallow in, and thus the herds thrive and grow. Elephant might well wander through your camp, coming right up to your tent, so there are phenomenal opportunities for close encounters with these magnificent creatures.
 
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Victoria Falls at sunset with rainbow in the spray
 
Victoria Falls is where the Zambezi pitches itself over a precipice and tumbles into a mile-wide chasm, exploding into a cloud of a thousand million droplets that refract the sunlight into a staggering diffuse spectrum. As you stand there at the height of the flood you’ll feel the vibrations through your feet, the thunder in your ears and taste the spray on your lips. A total sensory experience!
 
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An open land rover is a terrific way to watch large herds and move quickly from river to plain to hill country and you can enjoy open game drives in all of Zambia’s national parks. At Africa Exclusive we provide the finest guides and encourage you to step out of the vehicle with them to discover an entirely more in-depth world of wildlife on foot.
 
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The rivers are the lifeblood of Zambia, and the richest game viewing is along their banks. It should come as no surprise then, that the very best lodges and camps in the country are set overlooking the water, where you will not only have splendid views but also be in the optimal location for up close wildlife viewing. Particularly at sunset, there’s no more beautiful place in the world to be.
 
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Safari guests walking near buffalo herd in South Luangwa
 
To take a walk through the African bush with an expert guide is one of the most rewarding safari experiences. And one of the very best places to do it is Zambia. The South Luangwa National Park is a huge valley with rivers and lagoons linked by walking trails. These trails aren’t manmade — they have been made over decades by the passage of thousands of elephants and other creatures!
 
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Three of Africa’s great rivers set the scene for your Zambia safari. The Zambezi, the Luangwa and the Kafue rivers are all of different character and have national parks named for them.
 
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