When people talk about safaris in Africa, Zambia does not often feature, except for the Victoria Falls, Livingstone. Zambia is however one of my favourite safari destinations.
Norman Carr was one of the first to give up the rifle and shoot with a camera instead. He started the first game viewing camp for the normal Joe Soap and so walking and photographic safaris were born in the South Luangwa. Eco-tourism also found its beginings here as part of the revenue from the camp went back to the community. South Luangwa is still today the home of Africa’s best walking safaris.
Zambia was slower than its neighbour Zimbabwe in using it natural resources to generate revenue and its National Parks are relatively young. With the exception of the Victoria Falls, one third of which falls within Zambia, most destinations in Zambia are still off-the-beaten track. But for a true off-the-beaten track experiences you cannot go more remote than with a visit to the Kafue, Liuwa Plains, North Luangwa, Kasanka National Park (home of the bat migration) and some of the lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park.
Water is a central theme of all the Zambian parks. The mighty Zambezi dominates the Lower Zambezi, the flooding of rivers the other parks and some to such an extent that they only open for the dry season. Typically the dry season is the best for safaris, but for birders, the emerald or wet season is most productive.
Self-driving in Zambia is not recommended due to the changeable state of the roads and limited road infra structure. To combine destinations often requires light aircraft transfers, which are safe and convenient, if a little pricey.
The Victoria Falls remains the premier tourism drawcard of Zambia. Unlike Zimbabwe, there is no town close to the Falls. Livingstone is a dozen or so kilometers from the Falls themselves. The hotels and lodges are more spread out along the upper Zambezi River and most not even close to their neighbor. This makes lodging on the Zambian side of the Falls a little more remote as when at your lodge, you feel that you are the only ones on the mighty Zambezi.