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Zimbabwe Safaris

an authentic, rugged destination that we especially recommend to travellers returning to Africa for an off-the-beaten track experience.

Zimbabwe Safari

Few African destinations can compete with  Victoria Falls for sheer visual drama. At its full, roaring peak, the ‘Smoke that Thunders' is one of the continent's most mesmerising sights, leaving visitors lightly soaked and absolutely exhilarated at the same time. The falls are on the mighty Zambezi river, which means you can see them from either Zambia or Zimbabwe. Arguably, the best on-foot views are from Zimbabwe’s side - so lovely, in fact, that explorer David Livingstone declared they must have been gazed on by angels.

But while these views have won it international fame, Zimbabwe is so much more than Victoria Falls: it is one of  Southern Africa’s most rewarding big game safari destinations.

Zimbabwe is an authentic, rugged destination that we especially recommend to travellers returning to Africa for an off-the-beaten track experience. In addition to delivering superb game viewing in the care of some of the most respected guides in the business, a Zimbabwe vacation offers classic tented camps that are comfortable without being ostentatious, fresh, wholesome cuisine, and one of the warmest welcomes in the world wherever you go.

Zimbabwe’s flagship reserve is  Hwange National Park, a short drive from Victoria Falls and home to a full cast of your favourite mammals, from lions, leopards and hyenas to big herds of elephant and buffalo, elegant antelope, giraffe and zebra. Add to these characters the wildlife of the Zambezi River – hippos, crocodiles and shy water buck and you're on safari in Zimbabwe’s  Mana Pools National Park, where activities include game drives, canoe adventures and walking safaris.

Zimbabwe’s less well-known destinations offer some unique experiences that make them well worth the effort of getting there. Fly in to  Matusadona National Park, set on the shores of Lake Kariba, a haven for rhinos and elephants and home to a thriving lion population. The far flung wilderness of neighbouring  Gonarezhou National Park and Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is hard to beat. Its remote setting makes this fly-in destination romantically adventurous and immensely rewarding, featuring big-tusker elephants, all the big cats and nearly 400 bird species. You may not see much wildlife at  Matobo National Park, but it's a lovely reserve of tumbled rocks sheltering ancient San (Bushman) paintings, ideal for short hikes and comfortable walks.

Our top places to visit in Zimbabwe:

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Best Time to Visit Zimbabwe

Cape Town

What is the best time of the year to visit Cape Town?

With mild temperatures, virtually no rain and a low malaria risk, the  dry May to October winter season is generally seen as the best time to visit Zimbabwe for game-viewing, although note that September and October are extremely hot and dry months.

The  best time to travel to Victoria Falls on the other hand is at the end of the summer rainy season when the falls are in full flood -  go between April and May for the most dramatic views. However, it is the  August to December  low water season that is regarded as the best time to go white-water rafting at Victoria Falls - the volume and speed of the water is reduced and the rapids are more exposed.

Where to Go in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's conservation areas such as the enormous Hwange National Park and the lake-and-river destinations of Matusadona or Mana Pools deliver great game viewing in environments largely devoid of other visitors and then there's the wonder of Victoria Falls... Discover Zimbabwe here:

Victoria Falls: adventure activities, safaris & iconic scenery

Visit Victoria Falls at peak flow and discover why it's considered a Natural Wonder: the falls are immense, the towering column of mist is unique and the whole area is scenically beautiful. Plus the town of Victoria Falls is known as Africa's Adventure Capital thanks to the wide range of activities on offer. Enjoy scenic flights, elephant-back safaris, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, game viewing and Zambezi River cruises plus access to places of interest such as local markets and traditional villages.

Hwange National Park: classic game viewing & bird watching

Hwange is the country's most famous big game reserve and home to an abundant population of wildlife. Located a few hours' drive from Victoria Falls, Hwange is home to the densest concentrations of elephant after Botswana's Chobe National Park and is an excellent destination for Africa's big predators.

Mana Pools National Park: beautiful wilderness area, canoe safaris

Wild, remote and little-visited Mana Pools lies along the Zambezi River, its forests and floodplains home to large herds of elephant, rare antelope and plenty of plains game. Its rivers are filled with hippo and crocodile, tigerfish and bream. Best explored on drives, guided walks and canoe expeditions, Mana Pools is a genuine wilderness area that delivers an exciting, off-the-beaten-track safari experience. Mana Pools is the place to go to see the best of Zimbabwe's big game viewing.

Matusadona National Park & Lake Kariba: lakeside living, big game & fishing

Kariba’s magical setting and tranquil atmosphere are as famous as its wildlife. Flanked by conservation areas, the lake attracts animals both big and small: hippos splash about in the shallows, elephant and antelope graze at the water’s edge, and African fish eagles perch on dead tree branches. Adjoining Matusadona National Park offers game drives, guided walks and boat safaris as well as tiger fishing and the best Kariba sunsets.

Gonarezhou National Park & Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve: pure Big 5 wilderness, phenomenal diversity & scenery

Zimbabwe’s crowd-free south is home to the Big 5 and rugged Gonarezhou is sure to impress alongisde the exclusive experience of Malilangwe, a private reserve bordering the park. Apart from the stunning scenery, visitors can expect to see rhino, elephant and buffalo plus big cats and wild dogs. The birdlife is truly amazing: Malilangwe has recorded 400 species of birds and boasts one of the world's greatest concentrations of raptors, including 14 species of eagle.

Zambezi National Park: game drives & river cruises, close to Victoria Falls

Just upstream of Victoria Falls lies the Zambezi National Park, a wild and game-rich reserve stretched out along the broad, smooth-flowing Zambezi River. Drawing fewer visitors than neighbouring Chobe National Park in Botswana, this largely unknown reserve offers fantastic dry-season game viewing without the crowds: expect large numbers of elephant, buffalo, hippo and giraffe but keep an eye out for lion, leopard and even wild dog. The birdlife along the river is superb, and we’d highly recommend a river safari. If you’re staying in Victoria Falls, a day game drive around Zambezi National Park will give you a quick and easy taste of Zimbabwe’s diverse wildlife.

Zambia Travel Advice

There's nothing like up-to-date, relevant travel information direct from the experts - get True Lion King Safari's essential Zambia travel advice before you go.

Money & Spending

Zambia’s unit of currency is the Zambian Kwacha although US Dollars are widely accepted at lodges and hotels throughout the country. If you plan on paying by credit card, be advised that high commissions are sometimes charged around Victoria Falls, and the more remote lodges may have difficulty in processing credit card payments – check with your Africa Safari Expert before you leave.

Generally speaking, safaris are fully inclusive which means that all of your game drives, guided walks, meals and drinks are included apart from premium brand alcohol and imported liquors.

Tipping

Tipping in Zambia is entirely at your discretion but as a guideline we recommend US $10 per person per day for your ranger and tracker and US $25 to be divided amongst the rest of the lodge staff.

When it comes to restaurants, some establishments will add service charge for your bill; if not, 10% is standard.

For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts - they'd be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Climate

Average summer temperatures: 17°C to 31°C

Average winter temperatures: 9°C to 23°C

Rainy season: November to April

Refer to “best time to visit Zambia” for climate charts and advice on the best times for wildlife-viewing.

What to Pack

For your Zambia safari, pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton or linen that will keep you cool, as well as a fleece or jacket for the evenings and early mornings. Zambia is known for its excellent walking safaris so be sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, as well as a hat or cap to protect you from the sun. And if you are visiting during the rainy season, don’t forget to pack a rain coat – downpours in Zambia are generally short but very heavy.

On game drives, stick to light neutral clothing colours such as khaki, olive and brown but not white as it will quickly get dusty. Avoid black and dark blue as these colours attract tsetse flies.

When travelling in Zambia, bear in mind that the dress code is conservative so women should pack knee-length or longer skirts to wear in the towns.

Flights & Getting Around

Did you know you can book your flights through True Lion King Safari? For more information and frequently asked questions, please see our Flights section.

Kenneth Kaunda International Airport: located 14km from Lusaka, Zambia's major gateway is served by several direct flights but many travellers arrive via Johannesburg. Transfer to charter flights for South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue National Parks.

Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (Livingstone): half an hour’s drive from the falls, visitors to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls arrive via Lusaka or Johannesburg.

The distances between Zambia’s parks are considerable and infrastructure is limited, especially in the rainy season, so the easiest way to get around the country is to fly. Transfers and game drives are conducted in open-sided 4X4s.

Note that if you’re taking internal flights there is often a luggage restriction of 12kg per person packed in soft bags. Zambia is stricter about this than most countries and even bags with only one hard side might not be allowed.

Visa & Passport Requirements

All visitors to Zambia need to be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months from their date of departure. Citizens of South Africa and Zimbabwe can obtain Zambian visas upon arrival for free; for all other nationalities, tourist visas are available at all major borders, airports and sea ports.

Generally, Zambia visas are priced in four different brackets, depending on the length of stay: 7-day transit visa; single-entry visa; double-entry visa or multiple-entry visa.

 

About Zambia

History & Economy

The discovery of 2-million year old stone tools suggests that Zambia has long been inhabited by humans but its indigenous Khoisan hunter-gatherers were displaced by waves of migrating African farmers and herders in the 12th century. Arab and Portuguese traders on the hunt for gold, ivory and slaves followed but it was the 19th century explorers, most notably David Livingstone, who put Zambia on the map with the discoveries of Victoria Falls and huge copper deposits. Colonised and ruled as Northern Rhodesia by the British, independence arrived in 1964.

With copper comprising 80% of its exports, the significance of Zambia's copper mining industry cannot be overstated. It is however agriculture that occupies some 80% of the workforce, most of whom are engaged in subsistence farming though corn, sugar cane, peanuts, tobacco and cotton are important cash crops. Initiatives to diversify Zambia's economy include nickel, tin and uranium mining as well as tourism and hydro power projects.

People & Culture

A country comprising some 70 ethnic groups and as many languages, Zambia is one of sub-Saharan Africa's most highly urbanized countries: almost half of its 13.5 million inhabitants live in Lusaka and Copper Belt towns leaving much of the country sparsely populated. It's a deeply religious country - close to 90% of Zambians are Christians - but one that mixes traditional beliefs with formal worship.

Used in commerce and in schools, English is Zambia's official language but Nyanja and Bemba are the most commonly spoken African languages - travellers who make the effort to say a few words in a local language are always appreciated by the locals! A country noted for its pottery, carving, weaving and music, Zambia has a long tradition of festivals and ceremonies; the Lozi tribe's 'Kuomboka', when their king is transported on a river barge, is one of the most spectacular.

Landscape & Wildlife

Slightly larger than Texas, most of Zambia lies on an elevated plateau that gives way to mountains in the country's north-east. Covered in large part by vast open woodlands and punctuated by river valleys, Zambia is in effect a huge drainage basin, supplying water for both the Zambezi and Congo Rivers. Unique 'dambos', flat-bottomed drainage valleys on the plateau, support a wealth of plant life while Zambia's extensive wetlands and floodplains are home to huge numbers of large mammals and birds.

Little wonder then that on a Zambia safari you'll find some of Africa's best game viewing: the crossover of Southern and Central African species and the fact that Zambian parks tend to have a water element to them greatly increases the country's biodiversity. The extraordinary  South Luangwa National Park is the flagship reserve and home to huge numbers of classic African animals and predators, as is the Big 5 destination of the  Lower Zambezi National Park.

Zambian wildlife highlights include bird watching in  Victoria Falls' Mosi Oa Tunya National Park; guided walking safaris and night drives in South Luangwa; canoe and boat safaris in the Lower Zambezi; and predators and birding in wild  Kafue National Park.

Best Zambia Safari Tour Packages

Zambia tours and safaris are all about exploring remote wilderness areas and being treated to excellent guiding and great game viewing. Its premier parks and reserves each offer something special: enjoy the world-renowned walking safaris and game drives of the legendary South Luangwa; expect extraordinary wildlife viewing and birding in Kafue National Park; and go on river cruises, canoe trips and 4X4 game drives in the Lower Zambezi.

Zambia's most well-known destination and the one on most of its holiday package itineraries is of course Victoria Falls, an excellent start or finish to a Zambia safari - particularly if you're staying at one of the luxurious lodges along the Zambezi River. Moreover, Zambia sits at the crossroads between East and Southern Africa - if you're looking for that little bit extra, why not combine your Zambia holiday with a beach break in Malawi, a safari in Tanzania or a trip into the wilds of Botswana?

Our hand-picked Zambia safari tour packages offer all of the above but if you can't find what you're looking for, one of our experienced Africa Safari Experts will be happy to tailor-make a trip for you.

We love this Zambia & Botswana adventure which is perfect for families with older children, and takes you on a journey to Victoria Falls and through some of Botswana’s most game-dense areas.


Best Zambia Safari Camps & Lodges

Zambia's tented camps and safari lodges give you the chance to marvel at thundering Victoria Falls or explore its famously wild and rewarding national parks while staying in comfortable and often luxurious accommodation.

If you're looking for the grand experience, then our selection of luxury Zambia camps along the bank of the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls will surely take your breath away. But Zambia accommodation isn't just about Victoria Falls: with unique and intimate safari camps set in prime wildlife destinations within the South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue National Parks, Zambia accommodation is also about fantastic game-viewing in remote, largely unvisited conservation areas. Expect attentive service, good food and some of the best guiding in Africa.


Zambia Travel articles

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    Accomodation

    Kruger

    Activities travellers enjoyed: Animal tracking experience Beach activities Bird

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    $500

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      Tours & Safaris

      Siwandu

      Activities travellers enjoyed: Bird watching Boat excursions Game drives Guided walking safaris Private game-drives

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      $8,895

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      Destination

      Gibb's Farm

      Activities travellers enjoyed: Biking Cultural tours Game drives Guided walks Jogging trails Local village visits .

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      $8,895

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      Destination

      Fundu Lagoon

      Activities travellers enjoyed: Boat excursions Canoeing Day tours Deep sea fishing Dhow cruises Fishing .

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      $8,895

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        Accomodation

        Mnemba Island Lodge

        Activities travellers enjoyed: Beach activities Deep sea fishing Scuba diving Snorkelling Kayaking Animal tracking experience .

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        $8,895

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          Tours & Safaris

          Jabali Ridge

          Activities travellers enjoyed: Game drives Guided walking safaris Night drives .

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          $8,895

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          Destination

          Rubondo Island Camp

          Activities travellers enjoyed: Bird watching Boat excursions Fishing Game drives Hiking Guided walking safaris .

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          $8,895

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          Destination

          Singita Faru Faru River Lodge

          Activities travellers enjoyed: Biking Bird watching Game drives Hot air ballooning Specialist guides Tennis .

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          $8,895

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            Accomodation

            Sayari Camp

            Activities travellers enjoyed: 4x4 Drives Bird watching Bush dining Fine dining experience Full-day safaris Game drives .

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            $1,475

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              Tours & Safaris

              The Highlands Ngorongoro

              Activities travellers enjoyed: Cultural tours Game drives Hiking Guided walking safaris Local village visits .

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              $425

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                Tours & Safaris

                Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

                Activities travellers enjoyed: Bird watching Game drives Local village visits Picnics Private game-drives Scenic drives .

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                $1,115