Zambia: Africa's Best Kept Secret

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    Destinations: Africa
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Tour Description

Africa’s “best kept secret,” Zambia presents myriad opportunities for wildlife viewing, photography, and cultural immersion, especially in the company of renowned Africa safari guide, Lex Hes. During our Zambia expedition, we visit three national parks: Kafue, Lower Zambezi, and South Luangwa. We search by day and night for the intense concentrations of wildlife, some 60 animal species and at least 400 species of birds. We boat the Zambezi River, tracking hippos and crocodiles, a highlight of Zambia adventure travel, then spend peaceful evenings at luxury tented camps. We’ve timed our tour so that we see palearctic migrant birds from Northern Europe, as well as intra-African migrants, so have those binoculars at the ready.

Zambia Adventure Travel highlights include:

  • Kafue National Park expedition, Zambia’s oldest and largest national park, and home to the once nearly extinct red lechwe, now numbering in the thousands.
  • Lower Zambezi National Park, where we hope to witness groups of elephants swimming across the river.
  • South Luangwa National Park, where we’ll find the densest leopard population in Africa—their rasping sounds during night safaris create an otherworldly experience.
  • Luxury tented camp accommodations throughout our Zambia tour, with raised platforms for wildlife viewing.
  • Motorized boating and canoeing along the Zambezi River, home to countless hippos and crocodiles, Pel’s fishing owls, and majestic fishing eagles.

What to expect:

Our Zambia adventure travel expedition includes travel by small charter aircraft and 4x4 game-viewing vehicles as we make our way from camp to camp. During our Kafue National Park tour, we transfer to our camps by helicopter. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required; while our game drives will allow for excellent photographic opportunities, the drives can be long and over bumpy surfaces. At day’s end, we rest in deluxe tented accommodations, designed to the highest standards, with hot and cold running water. Expect high temperatures during the day (90°F), with cooler temperatures at night.

Itinerary

Day 1

Depart USA

Depart USA on your independent flight to Lusaka, Zambia.

Day 2

Lusaka, Zambia

Arrive Lusaka and transfer to the Taj Pamodzi Hotel, surrounded by lush gardens and situated in the heart of the city. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.

Day 3-6

Lusaka / Kafue National Park

Fly to Busanga airstrip, our gateway into Kafue, Zambia’s oldest and largest national park. Untouched by human development, the magnificent Busanga Plains are populated by astounding quantities and diversity of wildlife that move into the region as the dry season progresses. Red lechwe graze the protected plains in the thousands, as do puku, oribi, roan and sable antelope, and herds of tsessebe, hartebeest, zebra, and buffalo. This incredible wealth of game draws predators in large numbers, including wild dogs, leopards, and cheetahs. Lions on the hunt are often spotted—sometimes in prides numbering close to 20. Nocturnal species include aardvark, small-spotted genet, African civet, hyena, and the amazing greater and lesser bushbaby.

Birding on the plains is an exceptional experience and Kafue boasts 490 avian species including crowned and rare wattled cranes, black storks, African finfoot, black-collared eremomela, scaly-throated honeyguide, and the endemic Chaplin’s barbet.

We spend four days here with the group split two nights each at Shumba and Kapinga Camps transferring between them by helicopter. We enjoy multiple opportunities to view and photograph both iconic and lesser-known herd and predator species during walking safaris, by open 4x4 vehicles, and on night drives.

Shumba Camp –Located in the heart of the Busanga Plains, Shumba Camp sits close to permanent water and seasonal floodplains. Raised platforms provide magnificent views and wildlife watching opportunities. Hippos frequent the local waters in great numbers and bird activity is lively in the lush fig tree branches that shelter the camp.

Kapinga Camp –Designed and built in harmonious relationship with its environment, Kapinga is situated in the northwest corner of the Busanga Plains with sweeping views of the land and the many species of antelope that graze here. Herds of wildebeest, zebra, and buffalo are commonly seen and birders will thrill to the sighting of Bohm’s bee-eaters that thrive in the shade of the camp.

Day 7-9

Kafue National Park / South Luangwa National Park

Fly by charter aircraft to South Luangwa National Park for three extraordinary days of exploration in one of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries.

Fabled for its incredible wildlife that comprise 60 animal species, and its few human visitors, South Luangwa is also considered the best walking safari destination in all of Africa. Explore the Luangwa River vegetation and adjacent dambos, a series of wetlands, on guided walks. Game viewing drives take us through mopane woodland, open grassland, along river shores lined with giant crocodiles, and to oxbow lakes where herds of elephant gather and hippos jostle for space. Birders watch for yellow-billed storks, tropical boubous, crowned cranes, scarlet-chested sunbirds, and Lilian’s lovebirds.

South Luangwa’s leopard population is the densest in Africa. These magnificent cats seem to pose for the camera as they laze among tree branches or move stealthily through the underbrush. Other predators—lions, wild dogs, and spotted hyenas—can be seen in this driest time of the year, when waterholes shrink and game is increasingly concentrated. Cookson’s wildebeests and Thornicroft’s giraffes—the world’s tallest animal at nearly 18-feet—are found nowhere else on the planet except in this corner of Africa.

Kalamu Lagoon Camp –Built beneath a canopy of ebony trees, this camp sits along a lagoon off the Luangwa River in the remote southern section of the park. A viewing platform offers spectacular views of the intense numbers of wildlife attracted to the lagoon shores.

Day 10-12

South Luangwa National Park / Lower Zambezi National Park

We fly by charter aircraft to Jeki airstrip in Lower Zambezi National Park and transfer to our camp by boat for three full days in the region around the legendary Zambezi River.

The Lower Zambezi encompasses 1,580 square miles of diverse ecosystems, including rugged escarpment, 80 miles of riverfront, and countless islands, lagoons, and acacia-dotted floodplains. Lush vegetation provides rich habitat for huge herds of elephants. Buffalos and waterbucks feed along the grassy banks and Africa’s iconic predators—lions, leopards, and wild dogs—all thrive on the abundant prey.

Ride motorized boats or canoes past basking crocodiles, down channels teeming with hippos, and close to reed islands where wildlife feed. Birdlife here is astounding as well, and we watch for Pel’s fishing owls, majestic fish-eagles, goliath herons, woolly-necked storks, lovebirds, hornbills, and dazzling little bee-eaters.

Game drives give us excellent photographic opportunities and lions stalking their prey are a frequent sight. Walking the floodplains and mopane forests is also an option, as are night drives, which offer the best chance to spot leopards.

Chiawa Camp –An award-winning safari camp, Chiawa sits beneath a grove of evergreen mahogany trees overlooking the confluence of the Zambezi and Chiawa Rivers. After Lower Zambezi was established as a national park in 1983, the Cumings family built this camp and brought the very first tourists to the park. It was also along these riverbanks that Calvinist missionary, David Livingstone, traveled during his exploration of southern Africa nearly 150 years ago.

Day 13

Lower Zambezi National Park / Lusaka / USA

Transfer to Jeki airstrip by boat for our flight to Lusaka and connect to your flight to the USA.

Day 14

USA

Arrive USA.

Departures

Pricing Information

Land-based Accommodations

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.