Zambia is the proud host of 19 national parks and reserves, some of which are among the best in Southern Africa. However, the challenges faced by the park authorities are immense, and decades of mismanagement and poaching have taken their toll on Zambia’s wildlife. That said, it is generally agreed that the situation is improving and an emphasis on eco-friendly tour operators, local participation and improved management is paying dividends.
Three parks in particular stand out as great wildlife destinations, and are increasing in popularity – especially for those who wish for their safari to be a little less packaged and a bit more adventurous. Exploring these magnificent areas on game drives, river cruises or walking safaris all feature as our top Zambia travel experiences.
Covering 22,500 km2 in western Zambia is the mighty Kafue National Park. One of the biggest parks in the world, it is Zambia’s best place to spot Africa’s big game. Riverine forest hugs the banks of its crocodile and hippo-infested rivers and there are huge areas of open woodland and floodplains – perfect big game country. Predators are well represented here and the birding, with over 400 recorded species, is excellent.
One of Zambia’s most scenic parks is the Lower Zambezi National Park which covers 4,000 km2 of the Zambezi River’s northwestern banks. Elephant and buffalo feed on the river’s floodplains and there are large areas of woodland covering the northern escarpment. The many lodges in and around the park usually offer a mix of activities including boat trips and canoeing, as well as game drives and bush walks.
The diverse range of habitats supported by the majestic South Luangwa National Park offer superb game viewing in a stunning environment. Dense woodland, open scrub and grasslands surround the winding Luangwa River and its sandbanks covered in dozing hippos and crocodiles.
The best time to travel to Zambia for game viewing is the dry season, when herds gather around water holes. The rainy season is known as the Emerald Season, and the parks and reserves are beautiful with dense, green vegetation; birdwatching is also best during this time.
Below is a complete list of Zambia’s parks and reserves:
Kafue National Park
Kasanka National Park
Liuwa Plains National Park
Lochinvar National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park
Luambe National Park
Lukusuzi National Park
Lusenga Plain National Park
Mosi Oa Tunya National Park
Mweru Wantipa National Park
North Luangwa National Park
Sioma Ngweze National Park
South Luangwa National Park
Sumbu National Park