• Dee Walker

Why Zambia Should Be At The Top Of Your Safari List

Text and photos by Rachel Rebibo/@rachelrebibo



A quiet and peaceful country, Zambia has managed to stay under the radar - but not for a lack of stunning luxury safari camps or exceptional wildlife. You won’t find yourself with a dozen vehicles at a sighting the way you would in neighboring Tanzania or Kenya, nor will you find yourself in small private reserves as in South Africa.


Zambia offers vast, open expanses of untouched wilderness with some of the world’s best game viewing.

Home to over 20 national parks and 35 game management areas, wildlife protected zones make up 30% of this landlocked country’s area. A rigorous guiding certification process rivaled only by Zimbabwe makes Zambia home to some of the top safari guides in Africa - not surprising considering it’s the birthplace of both the walking safari and the photographic safari. With so many national parks to choose from, deciding where to go can be a case of too many great options. These are my personal top picks for an unforgettable Zambian safari:


Wander the Winterthorn Forest in Lower Zambezi


At more than double the size of Mana Pools, Lower Zambezi National Park boasts pristine natural landscapes, incredible wildlife encounters and very few humans. Home to a vast forest of Acacia Albida trees (also known as winterthorn) and sandy savanna dotted with lanky palms, the soft, dreamy light gives Lower Zambezi an enchanted and otherworldly quality. This off-grid ecosystem feels intimate despite its size, with up-close elephant encounters like nowhere else on earth


On a hot afternoon at Old Mondoro, a traditional rustic bush camp operated by Chiawa Safaris, I decided to fill the outdoor bathtub to cool off. As I lowered myself into the water, I heard a splashing sound and looked up to see four elephants with a small calf coming down the embankment to drink and bath in the lagoon right in front of me. I sat and watched them peacefully, incredibly grateful for this private moment together - just me and them.





Take a Walk on the Wild Side in South Luangwa


If predator sightings, adventure and adrenaline are your thing, South Luangwa should be at the top of your list. The walking safari was invented here, so heading out into the bush on foot with an armed game scout is an absolute must in this park. Big cats roam freely here and you’re likely to see hunts, kills and feedings if that’s your thing. South Luangwa is also the perfect place to spot the rare Thornicroft’s giraffe, endemic only to the Luangwa River valley.


Another benefit of Zambia over neighboring Zimbabwe is the opportunity to go on night drives: exploring the bush after dark provides a completely different experience and along the way you’ll spot many nocturnal creatures that come out hunt. Leopard, hyena, civets, genets, and honey badgers are just a few of awesome the night sightings I had in South Luangwa.





Roadtrip through the diverse landscapes of Kafue


Leave the mixtape at home for this road trip - you’ll be more focused on listening to the songs of over 500 species of birds. Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park, about the same size as the entire state of New Jersey, and its vast expanse means unspoiled bush and little to no infrastructure - Kafue is truly wild.




Begin by watching herds of elephants in the hundreds stroll the shores of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi and work your way up to the famed Busanga Plains in the north. Busanga Plains is known for its remote location, untouched wilderness and healthy lion, cheetah, and elephant populations. This region in the north of Kafue National Park is often referred to as the “Real Africa” and is also home to rare sable and roan antelope.



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