Although boasting a long history of safari, Zambia has somehow managed to fly under the radar for most, with its cousin Zimbabwe just to the south, and the East African and gorilla safari scenes to the north-east generally taking home all the plaudits.
Recently though, with more and more focus being on exploratory travel, and hardened African visitors looking for a slightly different experience in the bush, the spotlight on Zambia has been shining ever brighter.
Victoria Falls has of course always received the attention it deserves, but is the slightly more remote destinations that are starting to come into their own, and the world-class wildlife viewing, combined with far lower vehicle densities than other countries, make Zambia something special.
The South Luangwa National Park in the east of the country is one of the better known reserves. With one of the highest leopard densities in Africa, open woodland perfect for photography and the Luangwa River itself with its uncountable hippos and crocs, this park is not one to be missed.
Visitors have a wide variety of safari options in Luangwa, from old school walking safaris to the more contemporary game drives in open vehicles, and a selection of camps scattered throughout the almost 10 000 square kilometre reserve provides a whole spectrum of experiences.
Further south and west in the Kafue National Park one finds Busanga Bush Camp, a seasonal camp set on the edge of an enormous floodplain. Here the views stretch to the horizon, and with such limited human presence in the area, the visitor gets a sense of true remoteness. Cheetahs and lions are the apex predators, and the open grasslands provide the perfect habitats for them to pursue the plentiful wildebeest.
The unique habitat and open terrain is a photographer’s dream.
Even further west, almost as far as one can go in Zambia, is one of its least well known reserves, but one of its most exciting; Liuwa Plain. First protected in 1880 by King Lewanika of the Lozi people, the reserve is one of the oldest in Africa, and now, Time and Tide’s King Lewanika Camp sits as the only permanent camp in the park, ands therefore one of Zambia’s most exclusive.
Liuwa Plain is all about seasonality, and the game viewing reflects this, focusing on the wildebeest calving towards the end of the year after the herds have moved south in the reserve, and continuing right the way through to the next winter at which point the herds retreat back north again.
The Zambian wildlife havens are truly untouched, and the country’s lower profile on the international tourist radar has aided this significantly. However, the sheer diversity of landscapes, the wide selection of luxury camps and the feeling of being in true wilderness should put this astonishing country firmly on the bucket list of any ardent safari lover.
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