Why Zambia Should Be on Every Traveller’s Bucket List in 2024

Travel Inspiration, Wildlife

Africa boasts countless captivating destinations, but Zambia deserves a special place on your travel wish list. This landlocked gem in southern Africa offers a unique blend of breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife encounters, and rich cultural experiences that will leave you breathless. 

Boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, extraordinary safari adventures, culture, and hospitality that can’t be rivalled, it is truly a destination for any intrepid traveller.

An Authentic Safari Paradise

Chisa Busanga Camp guides bring guests up-close to lions on a silent safari

Zambia is a haven if you’re a photographer or wildlife lover. Home to iconic national parks like South Luangwa, Kafue, and Lower Zambezi, it boasts some of the highest wildlife concentrations in Africa. Imagine embarking on a thrilling safari, spotting majestic lions stalking their prey, playful elephants frolicking in the water, and finding elusive leopards camouflaged in the trees. Some of our accommodations even offer Silent Safaris; a fleet of solar-powered vehicles that allow guests an immersive experience that enables rangers to get much closer to usually skittish wildlife.

For an even more unique and up-close adventure, you can partake in a canoeing safari on the mighty Zambezi River. This provides an extraordinary way to experience the river’s wildlife in their natural habitat. 

Walking Safaris

Guests from Sausage Tree Camp observe an elephant during a walking safari

Zambia is celebrated for pioneering the concept of walking safaris, allowing travellers to intimately connect with the African wilderness on foot. Led by experienced guides, these safaris provide you with a more immersive and authentic wildlife experience, bringing you a stone’s throw away from nature’s wonders and offering a profound appreciation for the country’s conservation efforts.

The World’s Largest and Most Spectacular Waterfall

Sindabezi Island Lodge guests enjoying a dip in Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls

No visit to Zambia is complete without beholding the awe-inspiring beauty of Victoria Falls. Dubbed “The Smoke That Thunders” or “Mosi-oa-Tunya” by the local Tonga communities, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is recognised as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World for its remarkable natural beauty, cultural and historical importance, and geological significance. Statistically, it is also the largest waterfall in the world, spanning over 1,700 meters in width and reaching 108 meters in height.

Historical significance

The waterfall was discovered by the Scottish explorer, David Livingstone, in 1855. He describes it as “…extremely beautiful; the banks and islands dotted over the river are adorned with sylvan vegetation of great variety of colour and form… no one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Livingstone, who named the waterfall himself in honour of Queen Victoria, the ruling monarch at that time, sought to share this unique wonder with the world.

A must-visit Zambia landmark

Feel the spray on your face as you stand on the viewing platform. Or take a thrilling helicopter ride for a breathtaking aerial view of the surrounding lush rainforest and a spectacular display of rainbows in the mist. Witnessing the sheer power of nature with the Zambezi River cascading over the precipice is a truly life-changing experience that leaves an indelible mark on every visitor.

Zambia’s Cultural Tapestry

Young mothers of Zambia

Zambia’s culture is as diverse as its landscapes, with more than 72 Bantu-speaking ethnic groups calling the country home. From the vibrant traditions of the Bemba and Chewa populations to the ancient ceremonies of the Lozi tribe, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Zambia’s rich cultural heritage. 

The Lozi tribe are known for their annual festival called the Kuomboka Ceremony. Kuomboka is a word in the Lozi language which means ‘to get out of water’ and the festival takes place at the end of the rainy season. This marks the migration of the king from the palace in the flood plain of the upper Zambezi River to the palace on higher land.

Visit bustling local markets, witness the captivating masks and dances of ceremonies like the Makonde traditional dance, and learn about Zambia’s fascinating history through ancient rock paintings.

The Zambian Spirit

The legendary guide, Jacob Shawa at Shawa Luangwa Camp

Warm hospitality is ingrained in Zambian culture, with locals extending a warm welcome to travellers and sharing their customs, music, and cuisine with open arms. Known for their generosity and willingness to share what they have, you’ll find that many Zambians will happily give up their time when you engage them in conversation.

Zambian Ubuntu

The warmth of Zambian hospitality is rooted in the Ubuntu philosophy; an African concept that emphasises empathy, compassion, and the interconnectedness of all things. The word, derived from Bantu languages, translates to the very essence of our humanity, and a deep understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. It is this focus on unity, compassion, love, peace, and harmony that makes Zambian culture, and indeed much of the continent, so welcoming and unique.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Compared to some other African destinations, Zambia will offer you a more authentic experience. This translates to fewer crowds, a more intimate connection with nature, and the chance to discover hidden gems. Explore untouched wilderness areas, and create truly unforgettable memories.

Fishing in the Zambezi off Ila Safari Lodge

Zambezi River

Flowing through Zambia’s heart, the Zambezi River is not only the lifeblood of the nation but also a playground for adventure seekers. From exhilarating white-water rafting and river cruises, to bungee jumping off the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge, there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities to partake in along the Zambezi’s glorious waters.

Lower Zambezi

The Lower Zambezi River offers a variety of activities, catering for all sorts of travellers. Lower Zambezi’s game viewing is mind-blowing with its rich wildlife and encountering hippos, crocodiles, and elephants is highly anticipated. Of course, bird lovers will be on cloud nine with the rare waterbirds and a variety of other species.

Elephants spotted during an eDhow safari near Sausage Tree Camp

If you love the feeling of something fighting on the end of your line, then tiger fishing is going to be a right of passage into Zambian angling. Lower Zambezi is famous for tiger fishing, for good reason, however, you can also target chessa, nkupe, and tilapia. 

Exploring this part of the river by boat is a must-do, offering a unique perspective of the surroundings. Especially if you enjoy a sunset cruise to experience the views of our giant yellow star setting over the lake. If you prefer dry land, there are plenty of guided nature walks, providing you with an opportunity to engage with the natural environment.

Zambia is a Conservation Success Story

Many of us travellers are increasingly conscious of responsible tourism. You’ll be delighted to know that Zambia’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism is evident in its success stories.

Rhinos

Tongabezi Lodge guides offer guests rhino walks in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

The revival of rhino populations in North Luangwa National Park was significant. Zambia’s black rhino population was once the third-largest in Africa, but due to heavy poaching, they were declared extinct in Zambia by 1998. The North Luangwa Conservation Programme (NLCP), with the support of organisations like Save The Rhino, initiated a project to reintroduce black rhinos to the park. This began in 2003 and continued in phases until 2010, successfully reintroducing 25 black rhinos.

Since their reintroduction, the black rhinos in North Luangwa National Park have been breeding successfully. Rhinos in Zambia are now recognised as a Key 2 population, which means there are between 50 and 100 individuals. The success of the rhino population is also attributed to improved security and anti-poaching efforts within the park, and their numbers are considered one of the most prolific on the African continent.

Wild Dogs

The African wild dog is Southern Africa’s most endangered carnivore and conservation efforts to protect African wild dogs in Zambia are multifaceted. The Zambian Carnivore Programme, supported by Ila Safari Lodge, documented the first recorded dispersal of wild dogs from the Luangwa Valley into Mozambique and back into Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. This highlights the importance of protecting wildlife corridors to ensure the species’ survival. The Zambia Wild Dog Conservation Project focuses on research and conservation efforts in Eastern Zambia, to strengthen the protection of such wildlife corridors. 

Wild dog near Chisa Busanga Camp in Busanga Plains

A healthy prey base and ecosystem are crucial for wild dogs, so efforts are made to protect and manage both wildlife corridors and other habitats effectively. These include captive breeding programs, habitat restoration, and anti-poaching patrols to safeguard the species. The collaboration between conservationists, local communities, and government bodies is key to the success of these initiatives.

Community Involvement

The Zambian Carnivore Programme employs locals to monitor lion & wild dog populations

The NLCP employs local Zambians and takes a holistic approach to conservation, linking livelihoods and landscape for a more resilient socio-ecological ecosystem. The African Wildlife Foundation helps local farmers build enclosures to protect their livestock from predators and tracks pack movements to anticipate potential human-wildlife conflicts.

This concerted effort demonstrates how dedicated conservation initiatives can lead to the recovery of endangered species and the restoration of natural ecosystems.

Will You Be Adding Zambia to Your Bucket List?

Zambia is a country that offers not just a trip, but a journey into the heart of Africa. It’s a place where you can witness nature’s splendour, connect with a rich cultural heritage, and embark on adventures that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. 

Add Zambia to your bucket list and experience the extraordinary.

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