10 Places Which Show How Zambia Is Eco-Amazing

12289079652?profile=RESIZE_930xDiego Delso

When it comes to safaris and ecotourism, Zambia often takes a back seat to the likes of Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania. But this large country in south-central Africa is positively packed with eco treasures, and its marquis attraction is one of the planet´s most spectacular waterfalls, Victoria Falls, which it shares with Zimbabwe. In addition, there are some 20 teeming nature reserves which offer as rewarding an eco-experience as any of Zambia´s neighbors – arguably even more so, without the crowds (just be sure to check the websites of each or ZambiaTourism.com for the best times of year to visit). Another interesting note is that “walking safaris” (aka safari walks and bush walks) were essentially pioneered in Zambia – in the 1950s by renowned British conservationist Norman Carr as a more immersive and less invasive way for visitors to experience wilidlife.

Anyway, here´s a quick look at ten of Zambia´s top eco magnets:

Bangweulu Wetlands

Up in the northeast next to Lake Bangweulu, this is a 3,800-square-mile (9,850-sq.-kilometer) expanse of swampland as well as plains, forests, and meadows which get flooded during the rainy season. It´s particular appealing to birdwatchers, as it´s home to more than 400 species, with standouts including the African spoonbill, great white pelican, pygmy goose, saddle-billed stork, and especially the endangered, elusive shoebill stork. There are plenty of mammals, too, such as elephants, hippos, hyenas, jackals, zebras, and most notably black lechwes, a kind of southern African antelope endemic to wetlands. Getting here from Lusaka requires 5½ hours’ worth of connecting flights.




Kafue National Park

An eight-hour drive west of Lusaka, at nearly 8,650 sq. mi. (22,400km²), Zambia´s largest national park (and all of Africa´s second largest) is practically the size of Massachusetts or Wales. Most of Kafue is covered by what´s known as miombo woodlands (a mix of grasslands, shrublands, and savannas) but it´s most famous for its Busanga Plains up in the northwest, on which roam large prides of lions, herds of elephants and antelopes, and packs of cheetahs, as well as smaller herds of zebras, large schools of hippos, crocodiles. In addition to walking safaris and game drives, canoeing on the Kafue River is also a great way to experience the park.

12289079863?profile=RESIZE_930xZambia Tourism

Kasanka National Park

From the largest to the smallest, Kasanka is just 150 sq. mi. (390km²) and is an 8½-hour drive from Lusaka. It´s home to diverse wildlife including elephants, hippos, and more than 470 bird species, but Kasanka is most famous for the world´s single largest mammal migration: that of millions of fruit bats, which at dawn and dusk fill the skies most impressively from October through December.

12289176269?profile=RESIZE_930xRon Cogswell

Liuwa Plain National Park

Speaking of migrations, this remote reserve (way out west, and a full day´s flight/drive from Lusaka) is home to Africa´s second largest wildebeest migration after that of Kenya-Tanzania, numbering in the tens of thousands – a majestic sight which takes place in November and December. In addition, throughout Liuwa´s 1,300 sq. mi. (3,369km²)  of grasslands you can spot cheetahs, spotted hyenas, leopards, lions, zebras, and more than 300 species of avians.

Lower Zambezi National Park

On the banks of the Zambezi River a three-hour flight east of Lusaka, this pristine, 1,580-sq.-mi (4,092km²) UNESCO World Heritage spread is mostly woodland savannah and home to some 57 species of mammals and reptiles, including antelope of various types, Cape buffalo, crocodiles, a large population of elephants, hippos, leopards, and lions. Plus in addition to land-based safari camps and expeditions, you can also tour via canoe on the river and visit villages of the local people, the Goba.



North Luangwa National Park

Up in the northeast, remote and relatively little visited, here you´ll find a marvelously off-the-beaten-path experience via walking safaris and game-spotting drives. Its 2,880 sq. mi. (4,636km²) of mopane woodland, riverine forest along the Luangwa River and its tributaries, open grasslands, and acacia thickets are home to species which besides many avians includes various kinds of antelopes along with black rhino, buffalo, elephants, lions, wildebeest, and zebras. You get here from Lusaka via flights (five hours and 40 minutes) chartered by safari tour operators; no independent travel is permitted for the time being.



Nsumbu National Park

Located at the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika, way up north and reachable from Lusaka with a full day of flying/driving, in “Sumbu´s” 1,255 sq. mi (2,000km²)  of rugged, hilly grasslands you can spot many of the species mentioned above (though admittedly fewer in numbers due to the neglect of the park up till around 30 years ago, with animal populations now recovering), with the added wrinkle of a beach where you can fish and go on boat excursions as well as snorkeling and scuba diving.

South Luangwa National Park

Mostly woodland savannah, this is probably the country´s best known park (and what´s widely considered one of the world´s greatest wildlife sanctuaries), and is known for some of Africa´s highest concentrations of wildlife along the Luangwa River and its lagoons – especially Cape buffaloes, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippos, leopards, and lions, in addition to more than 400 species of birds. If you had to choose one nature park to visit in all of Zambia, I guess it would be this one. (And by the way, it´s here where Norman Carr actually pioneered the walking safari some 70 years ago. Way to go, Norman!)

Victoria Falls

And last alphabetically but obviously for many first in the imagination, one of the world´s most spectacular waterfalls, on the Zambezi River (above and top) – better known to locals in the Sotho language as Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke That Thunders”) – is of course a Zambian eco experience like no other. Twice the height and well over twice the width of Niagara, Vic Falls is a bucket lister if ever there was one. Plus activities in the area include whitewater rafting;  bungee jumping; ziplining; microlight and helicopter tours; taking a dip in Devil´s Pool right at the edge of the falls; quad and horseback riding; and cruising on the Zambezi. And you can also go wildlife spotting of many of the species mentioned above at a compact national reserve near the falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (25 sq. mi/66km²).



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