Zambia is a top adventure destination and the pioneer of exhilarating walking safaris, appealing to safari purists for whom the rest of the continent has become too predictable. Here the standard of guiding and camp accommodation is consistently high, and night drives (the opportunity to see a different range of nocturnal animals) are permitted in the national parks., There is an astounding diversity of terrain on offer, as well as large concentrations of wildlife, including endemic subspecies of giraffe and wildebeest found in the Luangwa River valley; extensive herds of black lechwe inhabit the floodplains of the Bangweulu. Bird life is particularly prolific, with 740 bird species, including many ornithological specials; it is the southernmost range of the odd-looking African shoebill. The landlocked country is named after the Zambezi River, which rises in its north-west corner and forms the southern border of the country with neighbouring Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The river and its valleys are one defining aspect; another is the great African Rift system which cuts through the eastern and southern parts via several deep troughs along the course of the Luangwa River. Extraordinary natural features include the Victoria Falls, Lake Tanganyika, (the second deepest natural lake in the world), the floodplains of Busanga, Barotseland, the Kafue Flats, and the Bangweulu Swamps. Remarkable too is the richness and variety of cultures to be found in Zambia, home to over seventy ethnically diverse people. There are surprises too, such as Shiwa N’gandu the incongruous stately home built long ago in the remote north by eccentric Englishman Stewart Gore-Brown, where guests can enjoy aristocratic comforts, visit the hot springs nearby or explore the surrounding wilderness area. Most of the country has a mild, pleasant climate, while the river valleys are hotter and more humid; the extreme north is verging on tropical.
South Luangwa National Park
Zambia's top wildlife destination offers unrivalled big game safaris, plus some of Africa's best walking safaris. Plan at least five days of a Zambia safari here, in at least two camps, and consider staying in one of the Luangwa's tiny bush camps set in ancient riverine woodland straddling the river.
Kafue National Park
Zambia's largest national park is higher, cooler and less developed than either the Lower Zambezi or the Luangwa – and offers species such as cheetah, rare elsewhere. The 2.25-million-hectare park and surrounding game management areas in central Zambia make up the largest conservation area, a mix of miombo woodlands; the seasonally inundated Busanga floodplains are the highlight of the park.
Lower Zambezi National Park
The Lower Zambezi is all about big game seen by an expanse of river, often with an astounding mountainous backdrop. Game drives, boat trips, canoeing, great fishing (catch a record tigerfish within sight of a herd of elephant) and walking safaris are on offer– and it's the closest safari destination to Lusaka.
Livingstone & the Victoria Falls
What more could you ask than one of the natural wonders of the world combined with adrenalin sports (from abseiling to white water rafting) and a great many excellent lodges and hotels strung along the banks of the mighty Zambezi.
North Luangwa National Park
North Luangwa National Park, is a remoter version of South Luangwa, offering just a couple of tiny bushcamps which focus exclusively on walking safaris and as such is recommended for experienced safari travellers.
Although Lusaka, Zambia's capital, has few major attractions, and should not be considered a destination in itself, you may need to overnight here before catching an onward flight.
Liuwa Plain National Park
One of the most remote and fascinating of Zambia's safari areas, Liuwa is a vast grass-covered plain in the extreme west. Very few people ever travel here, or see the wildebeest migration, as huge herds gather on the plains every year. The bird-watching is spectacular, notable for huge flocks of crowned cranes and pelicans.
This remote and extremely beautiful inland sea boasts over 350 species of fish. Like Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika is extremely old, and the combination of its age and ecological isolation has led to the evolution of unique fish population – they share the distinction of being the top two lakes in the world in terms of biodiversity, whilst Lake Tanganyika has the highest proportion of endemicity.