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Zambia

Country Profile: Zambia

Zambia is home to one of the world’s best-known natural wonders—Victoria Falls—but its less-visited network of national parks is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. Whether you’re a seasoned African traveler or a complete newcomer, Zambia’s abundant opportunities for slow-paced, close-to-nature adventure—by foot or canoe—make this a uniquely appealing destination.

Zambia’s star attraction, on the border with Zimbabwe, is Victoria Falls. Here, the mile-wide Zambezi River crashes headlong into its cavernous gorge, creating the “smoke that thunders” made world-famous by 19th-century Scottish explorer David Livingstone. To feel the falls’ full tumultuous power, visit in the wet season, when a walk through the forest along the river’s edge will leave you drenched in spray. In dry season, intrepid travelers can get a completely different perspective, soaking up vertigo-inducing views on Livingstone Island, hiking to the bottom of the gorge, or soaking in Devil’s Pool, dramatically perched at the falls’ upper lip.

For off-the-grid, immersed-in-nature enchantment, few places on Earth compare to South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia. Centered on a pair of pristine river valleys, the park boasts one of Africa’s richest wildlife habitats and is ideal for walking safaris, thanks to a closely spaced series of intimate, remote bush camps. Adventurous souls can savor exceptional close-up wildlife encounters here—following fresh tracks along the riverbank, wading barefoot through shallow water face-to-face with a family of elephants, spotting dozens of newborn baby antelopes after the season’s first rain, or listening wonder-struck to the nighttime rumble of lions from the safety of camp. Myriad birds, from the iridescent lilac-breasted roller to the carmine bee-eater, flock to South Luangwa’s riverbanks and oxbow lagoons. Leopards also thrive here, drawn by the park’s abundance of puku antelope. An all-star cast of other African mammals populates the park’s floodplains and mopane woodlands.

Zambia’s parks offer numerous other close-to-nature experiences, including canoe safaris along the lower Zambezi or spotting hippos, big cats, and blue wildebeest in seldom-visited Kafue National Park.

View Our Zambia Tour

Country Highlights & Attractions
  • Feel the spray, hear the thunder, and soak up stupendous views at Victoria Falls
  • Walk between remote bush camps in South Luangwa National Park
  • Sip sundowners in the bush during spectacular sunsets
  • Canoe past pods of hippos in Lower Zambezi National Park
  • Enjoy exceptional bird-watching in Kafue, Zambia’s oldest and largest national park
  • Go white-water rafting and kayaking on the Zambezi River

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  • Trust our expertise with 38+ years in active travel.
  • Immersive experiences with our local guides.
  • Virtually everything is included, even beer and wine with dinner.
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Country Facts

About Zambia:

About the size of France or Texas, Zambia is a sparsely populated, landlocked country whose vast plateau of deciduous savannah and grassy plains contains some of the continent’s best wildlife parks. It is often referred to as the “real Africa” and is also regarded as the birthplace of the walking safari. The country’s most striking geographical features are spectacular Victoria Falls (along the border with Zimbabwe) and the headwaters of the mighty Zambezi, Africa’s fourth-longest river.

Known in colonial days as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964. National politics in subsequent years have been marked by long periods of one-party rule and frequent allegations of electoral improprieties, but the country has maintained its status as a democratic republic, ruled by an elected president and a unicameral national assembly. The capital city is Lusaka.

The official language of Zambia is English. Dozens of Bantu languages and dialects are also in common use; chief among these is Bembe, spoken by one third of the population.

Zambia’s predominantly rural population of 15 million includes more than 70 tribal groups, each with its unique traditions and customs. The majority group is the Bemba, making up 21 percent of the population. Religious affiliation is about 95 percent Christian.

The staple of traditional Zambian cuisine is maize (locally known as nshima), which is served porridge-style and, for lunch and dinner, rolled into a ball and dipped in a savory vegetable, meat, or fish stew. However, on safari, guests enjoy a wide diversity of locally grown salads, vegetables, fruits, local fish, poultry, and beef . African lager-style beers are widely enjoyed along with fine wines from South Africa.

The best time to visit is from May through October. Zambia has three distinct seasons: from December to April it is warm and wet; from May to August it is cool and dry with temperatures in the mid-70s F; and from September to November, it is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching the high 90s F.

U.S. citizens: Passports and visas are required and must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of travel; importantly, passports must contain at least two clean (unstamped) visa pages at the time entry is sought. A single-entry visa only may be obtained at the port of entry for $50.  For the most up-to-date visa information, and for non-U.S. citizens, see the Embassy of Zambia website:

http://www.zambiaembassy.org/

Zambia uses the kwacha (abbreviated as ZMW). For the most up-to-date exchange rates, see www.oanda.com.

Foreign currency (preferably USD) can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices, and authorized hotels. ATM machines and credit cards can be used only in larger towns, cities, and some lodgings. If using USD, be sure to carry only bills issued 2006 or later; older bills will not be accepted. Departure taxes can be paid in USD or local currency.

No immunizations are required to enter Zambia, with the important exception that proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers traveling from, or transiting through, a country with YFV transmission. Be sure to check the requirements of any countries you may be traveling to or through after your time in Zambia. This may be especially important if traveling to or through South Africa.

Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are also generally recommended for all travelers. Requirements and recommendations change frequently, so always check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: www.cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.

Alternating current of 220V/230V and 50Hz is used in Zambia. The typical plug is the UK 3-pin.

Zambia country code: +260
International access code calling out of Zambia: 00

  • Cell-phone coverage throughout Zambia is growing but cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
  • Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, but less reliable elsewhere, especially in parks and reserves.

For more information about Zambia, see the national tourism board website: www.zambiatourism.com.

Photos

Zambia - 1 Tour Available

Guided Walking Zambia Accommodations
Africa

Zambia Safari: Exclusive Camps & Bush Walks

Activity level: Easy to Moderate Terrain

2-3 hours on walking days

Flight + Tour

12 days, 11 nights

From $8,898 USD

per person

Tour Only

9 days, 8 nights

From $6,998 USD

per person

Tour Highlights:
  • Slow down and get away from it all, experiencing wild nature at a walking pace
  • Thrill to close-up encounters with great mammals and colorful birds among the park’s floodplains and lagoons on daily game drives
  • See the rare Thornicroft’s giraffe, whose entire population of 1,500 is confined to South Luangwa Valley
  • Embark on daily bush walks accompanied by naturalist guides, often walking lodge to lodge
  • Enjoy the perfect mix of comfort and immersion in nature at intimate, award-winning bush camps
  • As the sun sets, sip daily sundowners in incredible settings on river banks and deep in the bush

Have Questions?

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Departure Dates
Flight + Tour Combo

2018

  • Jun 14
  • Sep 13
Tour Only

2018

  • Jun 16
  • Sep 15
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