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Zambia’s Best National Parks

Posted: 22nd February 2016 08:18

Introduction

Zambia is a landlocked country in South-East Africa, comprised mainly of tropical grasslands, wide rivers and open floodplains that are the perfect terrain for a safari adventure.  Zambia’s commitment to wildlife is impressive; 30% of the land is set aside for its animals, in the form of 20 national parks and 34 game management areas spread across the country, from the border with Namibia in the south-west to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the north-east.  Despite its large size the country has a small population and offers a wilder, more adventurous safari experience than many of its neighbours.  The biggest challenge for the visitor is to decide which of Zambia’s National Parks to prioritise, as the choice can be overwhelming.  With this in mind, these are our top picks for when it comes to deciding which parks are most deserving of a visit.

South Luangwa National Park

The Luangwa River meanders through Zambia, forming several lakes that serve as a watering hole for the 60 animal species area home, and the South Luangwa National Park is widely regarded as one of the finest safari parks in the world.  Covering a vast 9,000 square kilometres, there is an incredible array of birdlife here in addition to the big game.  Luangwa is an especially good choice for walking safaris, popular with those who’d prefer to leave the Land Rovers in the garage and get right amongst the wildlife.  Keep your eyes peeled for all the animals you expect on safari like lions and the hippos, and some you might not expect like the kudu, a large horned antelope unique to East Africa.

Kafue National Park

Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park and one of its most unspoilt.  Its huge scale creates the conditions for a colossal range of plants and animals to call it home.  The lifeblood of the park is the Kafue River and its tributaries, which facilitate a lush environment for big game.  While there are some luxury lodges for visitors, there are also plenty of affordable campsites for budget travellers.  The park is accessible in a couple of hours from Livingstone on the Zimbabwean border, and has much more of a wilderness feeling than most safari parks in Africa.  At Kafue you will really get the sense that you are discovering Zambia exactly as nature intended.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Once the private game reserve of the Zambian president, in 1983 this large area was declared a national park and has gone from strength to strength.  Enjoying a prime location on the Zimbabwean border, Lower Zambezi is also the closest national park to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.  The ease of access belies the park’s undeveloped nature, and the best way to see the wildlife is from the Zambezi River by boat, where you can observe rare species of bird and some of the biggest herds of elephant in Africa.  Like most of the National Parks in Zambia, the river provides the centrepiece of the park, and most of the wildlife is concentrated on its banks, but those prepared to venture further afield might have blissful solitude in which to enjoy their surroundings.