Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa boasts world heritage sites, incredible wildlife and a vibrant culture. Here are nine reasons why it should be on your 2018 travel bucket list.
Victoria Falls or “Mosi o Tunya” as it is called by locals, translates to “smoke that thunders”. It is the biggest waterfall in Zambia, measuring 2 km (1.24 miles) wide and 103 meters (338 feet) deep. Visitors can cross the knife edge bridge to get a better view of the waterfalls, or hike down to the boiling point. Daredevils can swim in the devil’s pool, microlight over the falls, bungee jump off the bridge or white water raft in the Zambezi river which flows into the falls .
Victoria Falls is located in Livingstone, a town in the southern province of Zambia. It is approximately an eight-hour bus ride from Lusaka or six hours by private car. The entrance fee to the falls is USD$20 for internationals, and opening times are from 6am – 6pm.
The bat migration in Kasanka National Park
Between October and December every year, an estimated five million fruit bats migrate to the forests of the Kasanka National Park located in Serenje, a town in the Central Province of Zambia. The bats feed on the abundant masuku (local fruit with a plum like taste) before they continue their journey to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. To experience the second largest mammal migration in the world, head to Kasanka National Park by road from Lusaka. The national park entrance fee for internationals is USD$10 per person and USD$3 for locals.
Hot air balloon rides in Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is Zambia’s largest game sanctuary covering 8,687 sq. miles (22,499 sq. km). One of the best ways to view the vast array of wildlife such as lions, cheetahs and antelopes is by taking a hot air balloon ride on the Busanga plains, which are situated on the northern part of the park. Guests who book a three or more night stay at the Busanga bush camp or Shumba camp qualify for the hot air balloon ride which is followed by a delicious champagne breakfast. Rates for Busanga and Shumba are USD$950 and USD$1,135 per person sharing per night respectively. These rates are inclusive of park fees, safaris, meals and other activities.
There are over 72 tribes in Zambia, many of whom celebrate their rich cultural heritage through traditional ceremonies. These ceremonies celebrate harvests or recreate successful military conquests. One of the most colorful of these ceremonies is the Kuomboka of the Lozi tribe of Western province. Held at the end of the rainy season (usually April), it recreates the King’s movement from one of his palaces called Lealui which was located in a flood plain to Limulunga on higher ground. The highlight of the ceremony is the large boats the Litunga (King) travels in called the Nalikwanda, which features a huge model elephant, as well as the rowers who row the boats in perfect synchronization. To attend the Kuomboka, fly into Mongu then drive to the harbor to get on a boat to Lealui.
The white pelican, flamingo, cattle egret and the wattled crane are a few of the birds that make up the 753 species which have been recorded in Zambia. Lochinvar National Park in Monze town in Southern Province has 428 species recorded, while the Busanga plain in the Kafue National Park is also rich in birdlife, as are the Bangweulu swamps in northern Zambia, home to the shoebill.
Snorkeling in one of the deepest lakes in the world
Lake Tanganyika in northern Zambia is the world’s second deepest lake. With over 350 different species of fish and clear waters, it is the perfect place to snorkel and scuba dive. Ndole Bay Lodge offers both activities as the only fully registered dive facility in Zambia. In addition to fish, divers can also see a World War I wreck on the southern tip of the lake. Snorkeling is done on the reef with equipment provided free of charge to guests staying at Ndole. However, to take part in the snorkel adventure trip, the cost is USD$20 per person while the PADI Discover SCUBA dive costs USD$120 per person, and the local certified scuba dive costs USD$75 per person. The kids’ bubblemaker scuba experience, which lasts thirty minutes, costs USD$50 per person.
While you may see giraffes in other parts of Africa, seeing a species that is endemic to a certain country will make you feel special. The Thornicroft giraffe, which is also known as the Rhodesian giraffe, resides only in the South Luangwa National Park. Rhodesian giraffes are tall with very long necks and have long, dark-colored tongues and skin-colored horns. They also have leafy shaped spots that extend to their legs. There are only about 550 of these species of giraffe in the country, though there is a concerted effort to increase their numbers by conservation groups. The South Luangwa National park is located in the North Eastern part of Zambia, and is accessible from Lusaka by road or airstrip via Mfuwe.
The eastern province of Zambia doesn’t have much to see, which is why the placement of Lundazi Castle might seem odd. Built in the late-1940s as a Norman-style brick castle by a district officer called Errol Button, it was initially called ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ before being renamed Lundazi Castle when it became a government resthouse. Visitors can book a stay at the castle for around USD$25 a night for a room, which also includes a guided tour. Lundazi Castle is located 730 km (454 miles) from Lusaka and is in the city center of Lundazi.
The Lower Zambezi National Park was recently listed as the world’s first carbon neutral park, which means that it completely offsets its greenhouse gas emissions generated from tourism activities. The park offers exceptional birdlife, as well as mammal sightings of lion, buffalo, hippo, and monkeys among others. Luambe National Park also received the same status in December 2017. While it is much smaller than Lower Zambezi and has fewer species of animals, the park is perfect for those who prefer a much quieter national park experience. It is not uncommon to see no other guests while staying at the park, as it is still relatively unexplored. Luambe is in the eastern province of Zambia, while Lower Zambezi is only about a three-hour drive from Lusaka.