Top 10 things to do in Zambia

By Katie Jacholke

What to do in Zambia? What a question! Whilst the country is best-known for its spectacular walking safaris and goosebump-inducing experiences in some seriously wild places, there’s a few things on our ‘What to do in Zambia’ list that might surprise you…

Walking Safari South Luangwa National Park - What to do in Zambia
South Luangwa, the perfect choice for walking safaris

1. Walk among the big five in South Luangwa

It wouldn’t be a ‘What to do in Zambia’ list without mention of the country’s world-famous walking safaris. In fact, the South Luangwa National Park was where the notion of exploring the bush on foot first started, way back in the 1950s. Fast forward a few years and the walking safaris on offer in the park are authentic, thrilling and truly one of the best ways to view Zambia’s plentiful wild things with some of the best guides on the continent by your side.

Our favourite walking safari camps in the South Luangwa include Chamilandu Bush Camp, Tena Tena, and Luwi Bush Camp.

Wildebeest migration Liuwa Plain - What to do in Zambia
An alternative migration spectacle to the Serengeti

2. Witness the second largest migration of wildebeest in Liuwa Plain

Step aside, Serengeti, for Liuwa Plain is in town! Not many know it, but the vast, golden plains of Zambia’s least-explored national park, Liuwa, play host to the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent. From November to July the beasties congregate in the south around the only permanent lodge in the park, King Lewanika, and the spectacle of thousands of wildebeest stretching as far as the eye can see is not be missed.

It’s the only permanent lodge in the park, but it’s also seriously sophisticated and totally safari-chic: King Lewanika Lodge.

Hot air balloon safari in Kafue National Park - What to do in Zambia
A once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon safari over the plains

3. Take to the skies with a hot air balloon over the Kafue National Park

For the best views of Kafue National Park, take to the skies in a hot air balloon and float high above the picturesque plains. You’ll spot pretty herds of red lechwe and puku, wildebeest, zebra and, if Lady Luck is on your side, even a lion or two stalking through the wild date palms. The Busanga Plains is also the only place in Zambia where hot air ballooning is possible, which shoots it even further to the top of our list.

Add Shumba Camp to your route and book a balloon safari for the ultimate Kafue experience.

Sundowners at Luambe Camp Luambe National Park - What to do in Zambia
Watch the snorting hippos from outside your bedroom at Luambe Camp

4. Safari in the raw untamed wild of Luambe National Park

Undoubtedly Africa’s best kept secret, Luambe National Park is a mind-boggling slice of raw, untamed magic. Kept off the radar for many years due mostly to the lack of accommodation, a spot of private investment has turned the tables and there’s now one tiny bush camp ready to welcome guests. Pay a visit and spot snorting pods of hippo, big cats and even wild dog in a wilderness that’s all yours.

Go completely off radar at Luambe Camp and enjoy the wilderness experience of a lifetime.

Microlight flight Victoria Falls - What to do in Zambia
Take flight and experience the misty roar of Vic Falls from the air

5. Swoop over Victoria Falls in a microlight

Completely open to the elements, a microlight flight above Victoria Falls isn’t just about the views (although they’re definitely worth it!). Instead, it’s about immersing yourself in the power of the plunging waterfall as you fly through the ‘smoke’, feel the spray in your hair and the sunlight on your face. Now that’s what we call an experience…

There are several wonderful lodges around Victoria Falls and all will help you book a microlight flight. Two of our top spots are the Waterberry Lodge and Thorntree River Lodge.

Fly camping South Luangwa National Park - What to do in Zambia
Just the crackling campfire and the sound of roaring lion

6. Sleep under the stars in the South Luangwa

Make like the first safari pioneers and sleep under the night sky in the sandbed of the Luwi River. On these adventurous sleepouts, it’s just you, your guide, a mozzie net and the thrill of being deep in the heart of nature, surrounded by the roaring of the lion and the crackling of the campfire. In the morning, wake up to eggs and bacon and embark on a walking safari, tracking leopard prints in the sand and learning the secrets of the bush.

Add a couple of nights at Time + Tide Nsolo Bush Camp to your route and spend one of those snoozing under the stars on a ‘Return to the Wild’ sleepout.

Tiger fishing Zambezi River - What to do in Zambia
Cast a line for the river monsters of the Zambezi

7. Tiger fish in the Lower Zambezi

Known as Africa’s most fearsome, fighting fish, catching a wily tiger fish is a dream for anglers worldwide. One of the best places to catch (and release) one is the Zambezi River in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, particularly in the hotter months of August to November. And even if fishing isn’t on your to-do list, head out on the boat anyway and watch herds of ellies splashing in the water and crocodiles basking in the sun.

Chiawa Camp offers tiger fishing boat trips on the Zambezi (as well as game drives, walking safaris and canoe trips) with expert guides.

Sindabezi Island Camp - What to do in Zambia
Fall asleep to the sound of the Zambezi, the most exclusive it gets

8. Stay on a private island in the Zambezi River

It might sound like something from a movie but if you’ve always hankered after sleeping on a private island, Zambia might just be the place to do it. Sindabezi is your very own private wilderness, smack bang in the middle of the mighty Zambezi River. Utterly idyllic in every way, the cottages look out over the tumbling waves and one of the fabulous butlers is never far away, ready to draw you a bubble bath or top up your champagne glass. Movie-star treatment indeed…

Treat yourself at the beautiful Sindabezi Island ,and if you can’t reserve a cottage here head for sister lodge, Tongabezi; it might not be on a private island, but it’s every inch as beautiful.

Mwaleshi River North Luangwa National Park - What to do in Zambia
Enjoy post-dip sundowners in the Mwaleshi River

9. Swim in the Mwaleshi Falls in the North Luangwa

The North Luangwa, with its absence of roads and beautiful, swoon-worthy landscapes, is a paradise made for walking safaris, but make sure you reserve some time for a trip to the sparkling Mwaleshi Falls. Arrive in the morning for a swim in the crystal-clear waters, then set up lunch on the banks of the river – after all, sandwiches are best munched with a procession of animals ambling past!

The river’s namesake, Mwaleshi Camp, is a simple and unpretentious bush camp that showcases the best of the North Luangwa.

Boat Trip in South Luangwa National Park - What to do in Zambia
Explore areas of the park that wheels can’t take you

10.  Boat down the Luangwa River

Step off the well-trodden path and head to the South Luangwa National Park between January and March. In contrast to the stark beauty of the dry season, the landscape is a verdant carpet of emerald green, puku and impala spring around the plains, and the air is crisp, bright and fresh. Most importantly, the great Luangwa River flows freely, allowing you to explore all the hidden corners of the park by boat.

There are very few camps open in the green season, which only serves to make it more special. Try Time + Tide Kakuli Camp or Nsefu Camp, both in the north of the park and accessible by boat.

written by Katie Jacholke

Katie Jacholke
Born and raised in Scotland, Katie went to Zambia in 2011 for a six-month stint as a camp manager in the remote South Luangwa National Park… and was still there five years later. After moving to Cape Town via seven different countries, she discovered a passion for travel writing and now spends many hours dreaming up Timbuktu’s blog articles, newsletters and marketing content (when she’s not plotting her return to Zambia that is).
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