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Lower Zambezi National Park
Canoeing on the Lower Zambezi, Zambia
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Lower Zambezi National Park

Snapshot

Virgin African bush surrounds you and the only sounds you can hear are the melodious calls of hundreds of birds.  Here there are no jostling vehicles, just the gentle rustling of dry twigs as another herd of majestic Elephant glide silently out of the trees mere metres from your vehicle.  Herein lies the charm of the Lower Zambezi National Park - remote, largely undeveloped and one of Africa’s last remaining great wilderness areas.

 

Best Time to Visit:

Come during the dry winter months (June to September) to see game, or November to March for excellent Birding.
 

Average Visitor Rating:

5 out of 5 'Pawprints' Based on 0 Review(s)
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Wilderness Wonder at Lower Zambezi

Formerly the private game reserve of the president of Zambia, this incredible wildlife reserve has been largely sheltered from any form of mass tourism of commercial exploitation.  It was declared a National Park in 1983 and is still relatively under-developed which makes it the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane.  The Zambezi River forms the southern boundary, separating Lower Zambezi NP from the Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean side.  Animals move freely between these two National Parks, as well as three other unfenced game management areas adjacent to Lower Zambezi, meaning that the protected area exceeds a massive 1.85 million hectares.   Come and experience what it means to be part of this remarkable unspoilt landscape of Africa.

 

 

The Zambezi River, the Elephants and other Highlights

The Mighty Zambezi River, one of Africa’s most important waterways, is an absolute game magnet!  In the Lower Zambezi National Park you will never be far from the river, its channels and tributaries, all of which dominate the landscape. This habitat is home to four of the famous Big Five, with only the Rhino absent after years of poaching.  Elephant and Buffalo are particularly common and cross the river whenever it suits them, often stopping to graze on the islands.  The River is also home to scores of Hippo and Crocodile as well as huge Monitor Lizards.  Along the banks there are good concentrations of antelope, Zebra and Wildebeest slaking their thirst, but Giraffe are not endemic to the region and are absent from this Park.  The varied landscape and the many large trees along the River seem to be very attractive to Leopard, while the large numbers of Wildebeest and Buffalo who inhabit the floodplains ensure some big prides of Lion as well as several packs of Wild Dog.

 

The Elephant

There are large herds of Elephant in the Lower Zambezi National Park – it is commonplace to come across up to 100 at a time!  They love the watery wonderland of the Zambezi and you will have some unique opportunities to see them bathing, wallowing and generally enjoying themselves in the many little inlets along the river.  One of the best ways to get close to them is from the water, either by boat or canoe.

 

The Bird Watching

There are nearly 400 bird species to be observed and enjoyed in this park.  One of the most stunning sights you will come across are the thousands of Carmine Bee-eaters that nest en-mass  along the river banks, while the plaintive cry of the African Fish Eagle is a constant reminder of where you find yourself.

 

Safaris in the Lower Zambezi National Park

Due to the terrain large areas of the Park are inaccessible to vehicles, but since most of the animals congregate near the River this is not much of a problem.  All the Camps and Lodges offer morning and evening game drives in open-sided 4X4 vehicles, but since the Camps are so widely spaced you will seldom come across other vehicles during your drive and will never have to jockey for a position at a sighting.  In fact, you could drive all morning and never come across another group, as though you have the Park to yourself.  In addition to game drives you can also go on bush walks with an armed guide or take to the waters in a boat or canoe.  Boat trips offer a marvellous way to see the animals all along the river banks from a different perspective and get some incredible photos.  

 

Canoe Safaris – those who don’t mind a little “roughing-it” and enjoy canoeing can sign up for a canoe safaris for anything from 3 days to 10 days – one of the most rewarding and exciting ways to see the Lower Zambezi.  There is a strong current which makes rowing easy; spend your days silently observing animal antic along the river banks, and your nights in comfortable dome-tents, under the African skies, in some of the most romantic and visually stunning locations in Africa!

 

Photographic Safaris – the Lower Zambezi is a wonderful place for a dedicated Photographic Safari.  You will generally spend some time on foot, some in a vehicle and, best of all, plenty of time on the water with an ornithologist to lead the way.  Photographic Safaris are best during summer, from November to March when the local bird numbers are swollen by thousands of European and inter-African migrants, and many combine Lower Zambezi National Park with South Luangwa National Park.

 

Other Activities

Understandably, such a remote location means that there are fewer other activities besides revelling in the outstanding wilderness, where animals regularly wander through the Campsites and Lodges.  Between game drives and bush walks you will be able to kick back and relax – listen to the sounds of the wilds, read a good book or take a little afternoon nap.  Sun-downer cruises are a feature at some of the Camps and at many of them you can rent basic fishing tackle and try your hand at some fly-fishing.   A few of the camps on the outskirts of the Park also offer Night drives where you have a good opportunity of catching a glimpse of Hyena, Leopard, Porcupines and other shy  nocturnal creatures.

 

 

Accommodation

Accommodation comes in all shapes, sizes and price tags, starting with really basic campsites with running water and barbeque facilities (shared ablutions), all the way to luxury riverside Tented Camps where you can relax in a tub on your private deck with a glass of bubbly while watching Ellies come down to the river for their evening wallow.  There are family-friendly Camps with larger tents that can accommodate 4 people and even some self-catering options if you prefer.  The Camps are all in magnificent bush settings – to get the most out of your visit try and book into at least two different Camps or Lodges in different parts of the Park.

 

 

Best Time to Visit

The areas along the river are absolutely bustling with game during the dry season, which starts in May and ends around September or October.  During the wet months (November to March) you can see huge herds of Buffalo and Wildebeest in the flood plains of the river, and birding is at its most spectacular.  However, Zambia regularly receives heavy rains in summer and many Lodges close between December and March.  May and September are often the best months with few visitors and some really good deals available from the Lodges.

 

 

How to Get There

It is possible to reach Lower Zambezi National Park by road from either Lusaka, Livinstone or Kariba in Zimbabwe, and all the Camps, Lodges and Safari Operators offer transfers from these hubs. Most visitors fly into one of the Parks small airstrips, from which your transfer to camp is your first game-watching opportunity!  Flights can be arranged from Lusaka, Livingstone or South Luangwa’s Mfuwe Airport, (which makes it easy to enjoy a Multi-Park Safari including South Luangwa and Victoria Falls).


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