Zambia

Zambia: Luxury & Private Safaris

Nowadays, it’s possible to go on safari without sacrificing an ounce of comfort; however, staying in luxury safari camps and lodges with polished marble and enclosed glass walls can sometimes defeat the purpose of immersing yourself in the African bush. For those adventurous travelers who want to go back to the basics of safari, Zambia is the place.

Large concentrations of wildlife, active adventure, and exclusivity define a safari in Zambia. It is the last of the great old-school African safari experiences, successfully combining comfort and service with terrific game viewing in varied and beautiful landscapes.

Zambia is a down-to-earth experience which may include walking trails, canoeing, and boating alongside crocs and hippos. Adrenaline activities such as rafting and bungee jumping are widely available to the intrepid explorer. Zambia is a destination of immense beauty and opportunity – soul food for all who arrive with an open heart.

Secrets and Tips from our Experts

  • Combine the best of both worlds with water based safaris in Lower Zambezi and exciting bush walks in South Luangwa. Canoeing on the channels of the Zambezi is a must!
  • Don’t be afraid to combine two properties within one area, there is so much to do and see within Zambia’s National Parks. Different properties can offer completely different experiences.
  • The further away from the main camps near the Mfuwe gate in South Luangwa, the fewer people you will see. If you’re looking for remote, deep in the South Luangwa or North Luangwa are the places for you.
  • October is hot, hot, hot! If you can handle the heat and potential rain, the rewards of epic game viewing await.

Is Zambia the right destination for you?

Zambia is a paradise for guests wanting to immerse themselves in wilderness. The wildlife experience is incredible and we recommend it as much for first time safari-goers as seasoned veterans. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the wild without the interference of civilization or crowds. You can interact with local owners, trackers, and rangers on a personal basis and get a feel for the real Zambia.

Many travelers are drawn to Livingstone, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Victoria Falls. It offers magnificent views of the Falls and is the spot for adrenaline sports and a host of fun activities.

For those looking for a more active safari experience, Zambia’s system of bushcamps in South Luangwa and North Luangwa means that travelers can walk from camp to camp to fully immerse themselves in the original safari experience. In the Lower Zambezi, water activities like canoeing, boating, and fishing, compliment traditional game drives and bush walks.

When to visit Zambia?

The Zambian dry season stretches from mid-April to mid-November after which many camps become inaccessible. October is great for elephant viewing, but beware that it gets hot. Air conditioning is almost non-existent in many of the camps.

We recommend July to September as a good time to travel because the land is dry and game viewing is good during this peak season.

If you have a sensitive budget, the shoulder season (May/June) offers lower rates and great value for money.

The green season, December to April, is terrific for birdlife. Many of the more remote bush camps are closed during these months due to inaccessibility, but there are still plenty of options.

The best whitewater rafting times are straight after the rainy season (March – May) and guests are assured of a longer river run and high water.

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How much should I budget for a safari to Zambia?

$ $ $ $ $

Rates vary depending on the number of areas a person is visiting, the season and the method of transport. Zambia, while less expensive than other safari destinations, is not a budget holiday.

Zambia: Luxury & Private Safaris

As a rule, high season (July to October) can cost from $800 per person per night at a property like Tusk & Mane, to $1,600 per person per night at Chinzombo. Most of the ‘five star’ bush camps (such as those by Bushcamp Company, Norman Carr, and Robin Pope Safaris) are around $1,000 per person per night. Low season (January to March) ranges from $500 – $600 at mid-range camps to $800 at the high-end camps.

Our favorite areas

  • Livingstone to see Victoria Falls. Livingstone works well to start or end an itinerary or even break it up in between safaris for a change of pace
  • South Luangwa for its week-long walking safaris (although it’s very possible to do game drives as well)
  • Lower Zambezi for its stunning views of the Zambezi River and water activities.
  • Kafue is slowly becoming more popular, especially from July to August, and features expansive open plains like the Serengeti.

What else should I know before planning a safari to Zambia?

  • Zambia: Not for the Faint Hearted: There is a saying among African locals which goes along the lines of Africa not being for the faint-hearted. Zambia is one of those destinations to which they refer. If the thought of crossing a gecko or spider in your safari tent is a deal-breaker, Zambia isn’t for you.
  • Zambia: Travel Warnings: Zambia’s bushcamps are taken down and reconstructed yearly because of the rising water in the river systems they sit alongside. They have everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you are nervous about open spaces and a lack of solid walls, there are more protected, solid, and luxurious options, in the busier areas near the Mfuwe park gates.
  • Zambia: Staying Online: You will likely find WiFi in the main camps near Mfuwe in South Luangwa, but you will be completely without service in the smaller bushcamps.
  • Zambia: Luxury & Private Safaris: Less commercial in nature, Zambia’s infrastructure is not as sophisticated as other African safari destinations so getting from park to park won’t always be without some level of commitment. Classic combinations like Livingstone, South Luangwa, and Lower Zambezi are easy going but going to more out of the way parks like Kafue and North Luangwa will require a bit more patience.

Ways to experience Zambia

  • South Luangwa predominantly features game drives and walking safaris. Starting from a main camp near Mfuwe gate, guests either drive or walk to and between smaller bushcamps (many with only 4-6 chalets) nestled deeper in the remote parts of the park. Some Zambia safari bush camps have limited road access which is highly appealing to those seeking the purist experience. Other activities do exist at select camps like star beds at Luwi Bush Camp and mountain biking at Tafika Camp. You’ll find some great cultural experiences from the main camps near Mfuwe.
  • In the Lower Zambezi, all the fun beyond the game drives is on the river where you can go tiger fishing, canoeing, or enjoy a gentle sundowner cruise.
  • In the Kafue you can go on a balloon safari August-October.
  • Livingstone is geared toward active people and adrenaline-junkies, but there are activities for any type of traveler. You can bungee jump from a bridge over Victoria Falls, fly over the Falls in a microlight, paddle through Category 5 rapids whitewater rafting down the Zambezi, take a dip in the Devil’s Pool at the edge of Livingstone Island, savor a sundowner boat cruise, savor a fine dining meal aboard a vintage steam train, nibble on high tea at the historic Victoria Falls Hotel or take a helicopter ride over the Falls.

Wildlife you will see

Visitors to Zambia will get to see crocodile, hippo, baboon, monkeys, buffalo, lion, elephant, leopard, hyena, wild dog and cheetah as well as many antelope and a variety of birds. You will not see cheetah in Lower Zambezi or South Luangwa. Rhino were declared extinct in Zambia in 1998. Thornicroft’s Giraffe and Crawshay’s Zebra are endemic to the area and you may also get to see badgers, civets, porcupines, and genets, plus countless other animal species on a safari in Zambia.

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elizabeth-1 Elizabeth Gordon