If you don’t (yet) have a clear image, it is because Zambia – beyond Victoria Falls – is simply not visited by many people. Your neighbors won’t be offering you their advice on the best safari camp and you won’t be replicating the trip your in-laws took 20 years ago.
The Falls are certainly not to be overlooked. Deservedly the stuff of legends, the Falls draw water from the majestic Zambezi (“Great,” in the Tonga dialect) River, 1,600 miles long. The Zambezi starts at the Angolan border and works its way – largely unexplored – to a corner of Zambia where four countries meet. Not long before this point, its waters drop 350 feet to create the magnificent spectacle – which can be seen from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
If being seen from two bordering countries doesn’t impress you, they can be seen as well as from outer space – they have been photographed from the NASA Space Station. The Falls are truly one of the great sights of our planet – and apparently, from well above our planet as well.
We love the Falls, certainly. And we are happy to arrange a breakfast on legendary Livingstone Island at the very crest of the Falls. The area has many activities including elephant-back safaris.
But Zambia, extends beyond the Falls. It is, in fact, one of the best safari destinations in Africa for our repeat clients that just can’t get Africa out of their system.
Wildlife in Zambia is not as habituated to humans as it is in other parts of Africa, so game viewing is authentic and unpredictable – the way it was for, say, David Livingstone, H.M. Stanley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Carl Georg Schillings, the first great safari photographer.
In other words, Zambia is a purist’s dream.
The way we see it, the fact that so few people go is one of the great reasons for you to go.
What is everyone (but you) missing out on?
For starters, South Luangwa, in Eastern Zambia, has the densest population of mammals (not including us humans) anywhere on earth. The river for which it is named, the Luangwa, is the most intact river system in Africa and supports an enormous wealth of wildlife.
In the nearby Bangweula swamps, you can see highly endangered (only 8,000 remain in the world) large shoebill storks.
Lochinvar, on the other side of Zambia, has the greatest diversity of bird species of anywhere in the world. Even if this sounds a bit boring as you read this on your laptop, when you are in Africa and some dazzling bird is a few yards away, you can’t help but become wrapped up in the colors of its plumage or the grace of its flight.
And who would have guessed that Zambia is the destination for a migration of 10 million bats, the second largest in the world?
Perhaps most significant of all is that the walking safari was born in Zambia. Once you’ve done one or two more traditional safaris, it is hard to imagine a way of experiencing Africa that is more intimate and more exhilarating.
You hike through archetypal African landscapes and diverse ecosystems, and you see the continent’s most magnificent animals as you move from one remote camp to the next.
Zambia is not about luxury. It is not about bragging rights, or staying at famous camps.
Zambia is all about the tranquility of being alone with animals, in an Africa that hasn’t changed much since the 19th century.