Things to do in Zambia sunset

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Zambia is one of those rare countries that everyone should visit at least once in their life.

Why? For a start, Zambia is home to the world’s largest waterfall: the heart-stopping Victoria Falls. But that’s not all.

The landlocked southern African country also offers some of the most untouched safari opportunities and a rich cultural history.

Before COVID-19 struck, Zambia rapidly became one of Africa’s top destinations. The country welcomed around 1.5 million tourists a year from all over the continent, the UK, Europe and the USA.

Things to do in Zambia Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls. Photo credit Diego Delso CC BY-SA

1. Victoria Falls

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is fed by the Zambezi river and splits Zambia and Zimbabwe. Rest assured the view is as stunning from whichever side you find yourself.

The falls were given their name when the British explorer David Livingstone came upon the site and named it after Queen Victoria. However, the original name is far more evocative.

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The Kololo tribe living in the area called the waterfall Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke that Thunders.” This name encapsulates the combination of roaring water and spray that can be seen for miles.

At the height of the rainy season, over five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet into the gorge a hundred meters down. Truly a sight like no other, it’s worth a trip to Zambia for Mosi-oa-Tunya alone.

Zambia South Luangwa
South Luangwa. Photo credit Joachim Huber CC BY-SA 2.0

2. South Luangwa National Park

Located on the eastern side of Zambia, South Luangwa National Park began life as a Game Park in 1904 and was converted into a nature reserve in 1938.

Today, the park covers 9050 square kilometres of the Luangwa Valley floor. Despite its vast size, Luangwa has become known as a pioneer of walking safaris.

Rather than driving around in a Land Rover, trying to tick off the Big Five (the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo) as quickly as possible, walking safaris encourage a more thoughtful engagement with the environment.

That’s not to say you won’t see the same array of wonderful animals. The park’s highly qualified expert guides effortlessly (and safely) bring you toe to toe with some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.

Zambia African Fruit Bat
African Fruit Bat. Photo credit Fritz Geller Grimm CC BY-SA 2.5

3. The Biggest Mammal Migration in the World

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest mammal migration in the world is not the so-called “Great Migration of Wildebeests.”

It’s the Kasanka bat migration in Zambia. Every winter between November and December, as many as 10 million fruit bats arrive at Zambia’s Kasanka National Park to feast on its various fruit trees.

That’s almost five times the 2 million wildebeest that migrate between Tanzania and Kenya. Arrive at a tree hide at dusk and watch these nocturnal creatures take to the sky in their millions, almost blocking out the sky.

Alongside its record-breaking bat population, Kasanka is home to nearly 500 bird species and a recovering herd of elephants. 

Want to go on an African Safari? Read this article for tips on planning a trip to Africa.

Things to do in Zambia
Sunset cruise. Photo credit Tracy Anne Brooks CC BY-SA 4.0

4. Drift Down the Zambezi River On a Canoe Safari

The Zambezi, which gives Zambia its name, is Africa’s fourth-largest river. It stretches over 2500 km before ending in the Indian Ocean.

In the dry season, the Zambezi River is the only water source for much of the Zambia’s big game, making it a perfect safari site.

By far, the best way to enjoy the animals this time is not by foot but by boat. Luxury camps and lodges along the water’s edge offer boat trips, while the more adventurous can take to the water in canoes for an even more authentic experience.

Things to do in Zambia Downtown Lusaka
Downtown Lusaka. Photo credit Matthew Grollnek CC BY-SA 4.0

5. Experience Zambia’s Capital, Lusaka 

While Zambia’s nature has much to offer, it is not the only reason to travel there. The country’s capital, Lusaka, is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. It’s the perfect place to explore the country’s vibrant culture.

Over 80 resident artists from across Zambia’s nine provinces gather at Kabwata Cultural Village each week to sell traditional artisanal works such as drums, masks, and fabrics.

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Zambia’s National Museum takes visitors through the region’s long history, encompassing historic rituals led by witch doctors and the nation’s struggle for independence, which was finally achieved in 1964.

For a sense of Zambia’s thriving contemporary culture, visit 37D Gallery, a non-profit institution that supports and exhibits some of Africa’s most exciting visual artists.

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