Zambia – my favourite safari destination

As safari specialists we are often asked the question: where is the best place to go on safari? This can be difficult to answer as we all have different perceptions of what the ideal safari destination is. Some favour Kenya as it is, in some ways, the original safari destination; others prefer Tanzania with its famous Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.

I however would name Zambia as my favourite destination.

Zambia will always remain close to my heart as this is where I used to live and work before joining Imagine Africa, but there is good reason for why I often suggest Zambia to safari seekers. Most important of all (for me) is the experience you’re going to get – it really has remained a little off the beaten track. This is not the destination where you will find large hotels, minivans and 10 vehicles around a pride of lion. Zambia is more about the “real Africa” where you can experience the fauna and flora without the crowds.

Unique to Zambia are also the bush camps which are often made out of grass, reed and the local “mopane” tree (a very slow growing and incredibly hard wood). Staying in one of these camps will certainly give you a feeling of being in the bush. You will live amongst the animals and far away from the civilised world. This doesn’t mean though that you will have to stay in very basic accommodation during your safari. All the camps are very comfortable and are as luxurious as you want them to be. For the luxury traveller, there are of course also top end locations with private villas and exclusive camps.

To give you more of a feel, here are a few of my favourite bush camps in South Luangwa:

Kafunta River Lodge – Magical views over a game-rich floodplain, superb guiding combined with a relaxed camp atmosphere.

Chinzombo – If you want amazing game viewing to be complemented by utter luxury, then you really don’t have to look any further than Chinzombo.

Lion Camp – the attractive setting above a plain and oxbow lagoon means superb wildlife viewing from the lodge, and on game drives and bush walks.

Chamilandu – the stylish treehouse chalets give sensational views of the Luangwa River.

Another main reason to go to Zambia are the walking safaris. Norman Carr started these in the South Luangwa Valley and Zambia has since become an icon for an incredibly high level of guiding. I urge you to go on a walking safari, wherever you are, and see more than just the “big five”. On a walking safari you will learn about tracks, shrubs, trees, insects and all the small things you would normally miss on a vehicle. For example, did you know about the ‘small five’ or the ‘green five’?

It is also a fascinating experience to stand in front of an Elephant, Buffalo or even Lion with nothing but mother nature in between you. It certainly gets your heart pumping and makes the obligatory sundowner beer or G&T taste even better!

Zambian guides are amongst the best in Africa with an incredible knowledge about the wildlife and its surroundings. Your guide will know every animal, bush, tree and insect and will often be able to tell its English, local and even Latin name. Paired with a huge passion for their job, going on safari in Zambia will not just leave you stunned by all the wildlife but also wanting for more!

Now, I should also mention that Zambia is, these days, regarded as one of the prime wildlife destinations in Africa. In particular, the South Luangwa Valley, which is rich with wildlife – if you’re particularly keen on Leopards, then this is the place to go.

Another reason for choosing Zambia is its unique attractions. For example, did you know that the largest bat migration in world takes place here? Imagine 8 million fruit bats migrating from all over central Africa to a tiny National Park (Kasanka) and then taking off at once to feed? (don’t worry, they after the Mangos not you…). Or how about the Black Lechwe and the Shoebill bird that can be found in the Bangweulu Swamps? What about the annual Wildebeest and Zebra migration in Zambia’s remote Liuwa plains National Park? Fancy a hot air balloon ride? No problem! Head to the Busanga Plains in Kafue National park.

After your safari, why not head to dive into the Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls or fly to Lake Malawi to relax on a quiet beach?

So next time you are thinking of where to go on safari, why not consider Zambia?

Written by Bjorn Behlert
Africa specialist

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