The landlocked country of Zambia – bordered by Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe – obtained independence from Great Britain in 1964. Formerly called Northern Rhodesia, Zambia today is a stable democracy with rapid economic growth over recent years based on copper mining and investment.
The awe-inspiring Victoria Falls are located on the mighty Zambezi River that borders Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are known by locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the Smoke that Thunders”, because of the clouds of spray rising high into the sky that can be seen from kilometres away. During the wet season more than 500-million litres of the Zambezi River plummet into a gorge over 100m below.
On the opposite side of the gorge is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height and covered in mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest affords stunning views.
Other special vantage points include Knife-Edge Bridge – with the finest view of the Eastern Cataract – Main Falls, Boiling Pot and the Lookout Tree, with a panoramic view across the main falls and Livingstone Island. Adrenalin junkies can swim in Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool on the edge of the falls, but only during the dry season from September to January. But even then it’s one of the craziest adventures in the world.
The Vic Falls (as they are popularly known) are often called “the Adventure Capital of the World”, and not without reason. Visitors can take scenic flights above the waterfalls in small planes, a helicopter or microlight; brave some of the best white-water rafting in the world; go riverboarding, kayaking, canoeing, jet boating, abseiling and high-wire swinging; or enjoy river cruises, elephant-back safaris, walking with lions, horse riding and game drives in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
The historical little town of Livingstone, a tourist hub named after legendary British explorer David Livingstone, is an interesting mix of colonial history combined with a typical African town. The Livingstone Museum has some fascinating personal stuff from the great explorer as well as displays of local history and archaeology. The Mukuni village is a great place to observe the traditional way of life of the Leya people and to buy fantastic curios and artefacts from its craft market.
Lake Kariba on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, in volume Africa’s biggest man-made reservoir, is an ideal holiday destination with an airport, harbour, marinas, great game viewing, water sports of all kinds, and accommodation from luxury lodges and hotels to self-catering chalets and campsites. A particularly enjoyable way to experience the spectacular sunsets and moonrises, however, is from a houseboat.
Many wildlife experts claim that South Luangwa National Park in the east of the country is not only Zambia’s finest national park, but also one of the best in Africa because of the immense concentrations of animals around the Luangwa River and its oxbow lagoons. It’s here that huge numbers of game come to quench their thirst, particularly in the dry months of May to October when other water sources dry up.
The park is also world-famous because of its walking trails, pioneered in the 1930s. On foot, visitors can really feel and smell Africa, and an armed guide will try to make sure that they get sightings of buffalo, elephant, wild dog, hippo, hyena, leopard and lions, as well as other wildlife. A walking safari here will be the experience of a lifetime.
Lower Zambezi National Park, opposite Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, although less famous and less developed than its Zimbabwean neighbour, is another wilderness area with most of the game concentrated at the Zambezi River. River guides take visitors down remote channels between the islands for exciting, close-up encounters with game – especially hippos and elephants.
And whatever wonderful game parks your clients visit, they’ll hear the haunting cry of resident African fish eagles, Zambia’s national bird.