Zambia Travel Guide: the real remote African bush experience!

Be ready for awe-inspiring natural wonders, and Zambia's enchanting wilderness and wildlife







Zambia Travel Guide

Zambia is one of the safest countries in the world to visit and has some of the best safari experiences on our planet, renowned for its award-winning safari guides. 30% of the country is given to its wildlife (national parks and reserves). No wonder Zambia is sometimes called Africa's best-kept secret, as it's still quite unexplored with a lack of crowds. Apart from the abundant wildlife and extraordinary birdlife, Zambia is also one of the most water-rich countries in Africa. The country has 17 waterfalls, 3 major rivers like the wild Zambezi River, wetlands, and lakes.

With the purity of Zambia's natural wonders and the welcoming and friendly people, Zambia is an exceptional country in Southern Africa to explore its remote and mesmerizing wilderness, full of wildlife - including the Big Five. Zambia is also the birthplace of walking safaris, which allows you to get close to the wildlife on foot, hearing the sounds of the bush while taking time to observe the diverse and unspoiled nature where animals wander through unfenced areas and camps.

There are 20 national parks and over 30 game management areas in the country of which South Luangwa, Kafue, and Lower Zambezi are some of the most popular and finest national parks in Africa! The best things to do in Zambia include a guided walking safari and night drives in South Luangwa, bird watching in Victoria Falls' Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, game drives in Kafue NP, and a canoe-safari on the Lower Zambezi paddling along hippos and crocodiles. Unleash your adventurous side at the Victoria Falls by swimming on the edge of the Falls in Devil's Pool!

Table of contents Zambia Travel Guide:

Interesting Facts Zambia

  Flag of Zambia

Zambia country flag

  Zambia's National Animal

African Fish Eagle

  Zambia National Dish

Nshima (porridge) served with 'relish' (stew and vegetables)

  Currency in Zambia

Zambian Kwacha (ZMK or ZMW)

  Zambia Time Zone
Central Africa Time Zone or EAT (GMT+2 hours)

Best time to visit Zambia

The best time to travel to Zambia depends on what you want to explore and which birds or wildlife you would like to spot. Zambia’s consistently warm tropical climate makes it an ideal location to visit year-round. If you want to avoid rain, any period from March to November is a good time to travel to Zambia. The best time to visit Victoria Falls is between February to May, after the summer rains to experience a dramatic full curtain of falling water. One of the best months to travel to Zimbabwe is in May; a shoulder month at the end of the green rainy season with mild temperatures, lush greenery, lesser tourists, good rates, and great conditions for wildlife-viewing and experience Vic Falls in full flood.

The country knows 3 seasons:

  • The cool, dry winter season from June to September/October. This is generally the best time to go on a safari with almost no rainfall, plenty of sunshine, and clear skies. However, this is also the high season in Zambia with prices going up. The last months of this seasons can get pretty hot, but game-viewing is incredible as animals congregate around water holes and rivers;
  • The hot dry summer season with high temperatures of 30+ degrees in October and November;
  • The green rainy season with high temperatures from December to March/April. January and February mean lots of rain which will treat you with lush green parks, phenomenal light, and dramatic skies; great conditions for travel photography and bird-watching. Note that many remote camps close during this season because they become inaccessible due to the rains. However, there are still enough lodges open at reasonable prices. You can drive the Mfuwe section of South Luangwa NP year-round because of the all-weather roads.

Things to know before you travel to Zambia

Safety in Zambia

Zambia is one of the safer countries in Africa and I felt safe the entire time when traveling in Zambia. Crime levels are similar to European countries. The biggest issues are bag snatching and theft from cars in Lusaka and Livingstone. Just be aware of your surroundings. As long as you use your common sense, you should have no problems during your visit. 

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Zambia

Almost all foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Zambia. You can obtain a visa through the Zambian Embassy or Consulate, but you can also apply for an online (electronic) visa or a visa upon arrival. Just be sure your passport is valid for 6 months. Visit the official Zambia Immigration Department to apply for a visa online and to check what visa you need. Processing time takes about 5 working days. With the visa, you can stay in Zambia for 90 days from the date of entry. Visa prices vary from $50 (single entry and Kaza Visa) to $150 (multi-entry visa).

Top Tip: Zambia and Zimbabwe offer a universal visa, the KAZA Visa valid for both countries for visits up to 30 days (including trips to Chobe NP in Botswana) and you can cross borders between ZAM and ZIM (for example to visit Vic Falls at both sides) as much as you like for the same price as a single entry visa. Not all countries are eligible, but most countries of America, Europe, and North Asia can apply for this visa.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Zambia

When it comes to responsible tourism in Zambia, the conservation efforts are not as impressive as other African countries. Elephant poaching is an issue, especially in the remote southwest, part of the KAZA transfrontier park, which roughly holds half of all elephants in Africa. Other parts, like the Sioma Ngwezi National Park, lack anti-poaching initiatives because it's still undeveloped with very few camps and tourists that visit. You can make a difference by visiting those reserves because your fees will support good practice, for example patrolling by rangers to prevent elephants from getting poached. 

Do not take part in trophy hunting - which is sadly still allowed in Zambia - and never purchase items made from endangered species. Consider visiting the Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary, one of the oldest and largest chimp refuges in the world that runs educational and social projects.

Choose to stay at responsible camps and lodges that put money back into the local community and support conservation. Zambia is a poor country and local communities can benefit from tourism. Ask the lodge you are staying how they are involved in local life and if there are projects, villages, or rural schools they support or invest in education. This would be a great opportunity to sponsor a project. However, don't visit a school when pupils are still present as it disrupts their classes. 

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Zambia

Required vaccinations depend on what you will be doing in Zambia, and how long you will stay. However, most travelers to Zambia require Hepatitis A and Typhoid. There are polio outbreaks in several countries in Africa. CDC recommends that all travelers to these countries be vaccinated fully against polio. Depending on the travel itinerary some travelers might need Hepatitis B (if you're staying 3+ months), Rabies, and Cholera declaration ('not indicated'). Yellow Fever is not prevalent anymore, but if you have been or are going to be in transit in a Yellow Fever area for more than 12 hours, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is (generally) recommended, but not mandatory. Malaria is a risk in Zambia, especially at dusk. Insect repellant and antimalarials are highly recommended. Consult a travel clinic for the best advice.

What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Zambia

The official language in Zambia is English, but there are over 70 Bantu languages widely spoken throughout the country of which Nyanja and Bemba are the most commonly spoken African languages. Locals appreciate it when travelers make an effort to learn a few words in their local language.

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Leopard Cub South Luangwa Zambia

Extraordinary South Luangwa

South Luangwa National Park is the flagship reserve of Zambia and home to a variety of abundant African animals and predators, including the Big Five (except for the white rhino).

It's one of the most impressive remote parks in all of Africa and known for its high density of leopards, large herds of elephants, and buffaloes drinking at the river. Lion, hippos, and crocodiles are very common in South Luangwa, and you can also spot the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe and endemic Crawshay's zebra. Birding is also possible as the park has around 400 bird species.

The Mfuwe Gate is the main entrance to the park, where you have to cross the Luangwa River over a bridge. The camps and lodges organize several things to do in South Luangwa, such as game drives, night drives, and (multiple-day) walking safaris including camping.

Devils Pool Victoria Falls Zambia

Admire Victoria Falls

Nestled among iconic landmarks like the Pyramids and the Serengeti, Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya – the 'smoke that thunders') stands as one of Africa's original marvels.

Victoria Falls ranks among Earth's extraordinary spectacles. For thrill-seekers, the breathtaking experience of swimming on the edge of the Falls in the renowned Devil's Pool awaits! The sheer might and intensity of the falls are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Other activities at Victoria Falls are rafting or bungee jumping into the Zambezi; a bucket-list-worthy experience.

Wintertorn forest Lower Zambezi Zambia

Lower Zambezi National Park

The Lower Zambezi National Park, nestled along the Zambezi River's northern bank in Zambia, is a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Paired with Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park across the river, these parks form a wildlife-rich region, collectively known as the Big 5 destination of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Wildlife thrives in this lush environment, with notable species including elephant, puku, impala, zebra, buffalo, leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog, and over 400 bird species.

Unlike traditional game drives, the Lower Zambezi offers the chance for guests to kick off the day with a thrilling canoe safari or walking safari.

Zambia Travel: White Rhino Walking Safari in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, near Victoria Falls, doesn't have any predators but does have a well-managed population of elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, zebras, and antelope. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site in Livingstone and known as Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.

Many only know Zambia's smallest National Park from the mighty falls, but the park consists of two main sections: a wildlife park and the mighty Victoria Falls section which includes Batoka Gorge, and the Zambezi River above the falls.

Mosi-oa-Tunya is the only park in Zambia with white rhinos which are protected 24/7. One of the best and unique things to do is a guided 2-3 hours White Rhino Walking Safari as the fees help with the protection of these endangered animals. During the walk, there is a very good chance of encountering the growing population of white rhinos, as well as giraffes, zebra, kudu, and more wildlife. During the walk, you will also learn more about the flora and fauna of the park.

walking safari at Mukambi Lodge Kafue NP Zambia

Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park, the largest of Zambia's conservation areas, promises a unique safari adventure far from the crowds. Kafue remains off the beaten track, offering a truly wild experience with only a few luxury tented camps. The highlight of a Kafue safari is the expansive Busanga Plains, where red lechwe, puku antelope, buffalo, and wildebeest graze, attracting predators like cheetahs, wild dogs, spotted hyenas, and lions. The magic of Busanga extends beyond game viewing, with its breathtaking scenery featuring spectacular pink sunrises and antelope silhouettes in the morning mist.

Activities in Kafue include game drives, guided walking safaris, and night drives. Lodges also organize motor boat safaris and canoe trips along Kafue's rivers, providing opportunities to observe hippos, crocodiles, and a myriad of bird species – an impressive 490 have been recorded in the park.

Wild Dogs Lodge Lusaka

Visit Lusaka

Lusaka, the largest and capital city of Zambia, stands out as one of the rapidly developing cities in southern Africa. Despite its status as Zambia's largest city and capital, Lusaka is often overlooked by travelers to Africa. For a genuine experience of Zambian daily life, visit the Sunday Crafts Market or the Pakati Sunday Market. Explore Zambia's rich history at the National Museum, and marvel at the architectural beauty of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Beyond the cultural and historical attractions, Lusaka offers a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous clubs, upmarket restaurants, bars, and shebeens. If you're looking to party in Zambia, Lusaka is the place to be.

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