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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.
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Zambia
CALENDAR: JANUARY TO MARCH
 
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.
CALENDAR: APRIL AND MAY
 
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.
CALENDAR: JUNE
 
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.
CALENDAR: JULY AND AUGUST
 
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.
CALENDAR: SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
 
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 big cats.
CALENDAR : NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER
 
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 but although the remoter 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.