Zambia map & highlights


Logistically, Zambia isnít the easiest by road; the main routes are mostly on good quality, sealed roads, but veer off and youíll be met by ruts and potholes aplenty. It is, however, very well connected via a good network of internal flights. You canít fly directly from the UK to Lusaka, but once here you need only jump on a short flight and face a slow and steady two-hour car journey to reach more remote areas such as the South Luangwa National Park. Do this by road alone and youíre looking at a 13-hour stretch.
Bangweulu wetlands Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Kafue National Park Lake Kariba Liuwa Plain National Park Livingstone Lower Zambezi National Park Lusaka North Luangwa National Park South Luangwa National Park Victoria Falls Zambezi River

Bangweulu wetlands

One of Africaís most spectacular, and best kept, wildlife secrets. Over 100,000 black lechwe antelope live here and this is one of the best places in the world to see shoebill storks. As the Bangweulu swamp dries up, you can birdwatch on foot around the remaining pools. Game drives are spectacular, too, with elephant, buffalo and other antelope here, all adapted to life in a wetland environment.

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage

Few tours take in this world-renowned orphanage for chimpanzees, near the DRC border, but itís well worth a visit. On the headwaters of the Kafue River, the sanctuary houses some 120 chimps in 4,200 hectares of forest and fruit groves. Itís also home to numerous other animals which roam around the grounds. Conservation work with local communities takes place, too.

Kafue National Park

Kafue covers an enormous 220,000km2 and has a great conservation record, yet remains largely unexplored. The sheer quantity of wildlife youíll encounter here is secondary to its incredible diversity Ė boasting numerous species of ungulate and rare antelope, plus leopard and cheetah. Those looking to tick off the Big Five in 24 hours are missing what makes this park so special.

Lake Kariba

Bordering Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba is the largest lake in Zambia at 280km long by 50km wide and itís also one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. Itís known for its population of fish eagles and is studded with islands, including Chete, a road-free piece of land where leopards, impalas and lots of lions and crocs roam.

Liuwa Plain National Park

This remote park is a pristine wilderness. Game tends to spread out, so expect some driving, but the rewards are seeing prowling wild dogs or dozing lions, in a forgotten piece of Africa that remains undeveloped. In November, huge herds of blue wildebeest arrive from Angola Ė the second largest gathering of them in Africa, overshadowed by East Africaís more famous Great Migration.


Named after the 19th century Scottish missionary explorer Dr David Livingstone, this was once the busy hub of Northern Rhodesia, until the capitalís relocation to Lusaka in 1935. Today, itís a relaxed and friendly town by Victoria Falls, with craft markets to explore, and also a hub for the adventure scene. Book activities like rafting, bungee jumping and microlight flights over the falls here.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Downriver from Victoria Falls, this national park is home to some really remote camps and much wilder game due to limited exposure to people. Here, game walks bring you closer to the flora and fauna, great and small, while canoeing in the Lower Zambezi is an exciting way to see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, impala, warthog and numerous colourful birds.


Zambiaís capital doesnít boast any obvious attractions or historical treats, and its mishmash of streets, Soviet-style high-rises and modern buildings donít entice travelers to linger Ė many organised trips merely touch down here. Nevertheless, its busy markets and great restaurants are worth exploring, and the city has a genuinely African feel with an interesting, cosmopolitan population.

North Luangwa National Park

Way less visited than its famous southern counterpart, this park is Africa as it once was Ė wild and untouched. You wonít see many, if any, other tourists here, but will spot huge herds of buffalo and large prides of lions. The park has no permanent lodges, with only the northern section open to the public and a few operators licensed to run game drives and walking safaris here.

South Luangwa National Park

One of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world and the birthplace of the walking safari, South Luangwa National Park surpasses expectations. An unspoiled wilderness with one of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa found around the Luangwa river, itís home to elephant, giraffe, buffalo and leopard, plus over 400 species of bird. Added bonus Ė itís never crowded.

Victoria Falls

The localsí nickname for Victoria Falls is ĎMosi-oa-Tunyaí, which means Ďthe smoke that thundersí. One glimpse of this spectacular, mile-wide sheet of water tumbling into a narrow gorge below confirms why. At peak flow the falls become a raging torrent, with the spray created rising up 400m. Double the height of Canadaís Niagara Falls, this is one of the Earthís greatest spectacles.

Zambezi River

The great Zambezi River sets the rhythm of life for those that live along it. In the upper part, farmers and fishermen make the most of the unpolluted water. In the middle, it serves as a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and as a playground for white water rafting and kayaking, and in the lower part, itís flanked by national parks, supporting the abundance of wildlife that dwells there.


Safari and Victoria Falls (11 days):
Lusaka ► South Luangwa (six days) ► Livingstone ► Victoria Falls

Canoe safari (10 days):
Lusaka ► Nyamomba ► Lower Zambezi River (3 days) ► Chiawa Game Management Area ► Lower Zambezi National Park

Off the beaten track and chimps (21 days):
Livingstone ► Victoria Falls ► Liuwa Plain National Park ► Kafue National Park ► Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage

Travel times in Zambia

Lusaka Ė Mfuwe (for South Luangwa): 1hr by plane
Lusaka Ė South Luangwa National Park: 13hrs by car
Lusaka Ė Livingstone: 70 mins by plane
Lusaka Ė Livingstone: 6hrs by car
Lusaka Ė Lower Zambezi National Park: 3-4hrs by car
Lusaka Ė Kafue National Park: 13hrs by car
Livingstone Ė Botswana border for Chobe National Park: 1hr by car
Photo credits: [Map intro: Christiaan Triebert] [Bangweulu wetlands: Mehmet Karatay ] [Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage: Prabir2011] [Kafue National Park: sarahDepper] [Lake Kariba : Peaches&Cream] [Liuwa Plain National Park: Jonchwalker] [Livingstone: SarahDepper] [Lower Zambezi National Park: Paul Kane] [Lusaka: Lighton Phiri] [North Luangwa National Park: Paul Kane] [South Luangwa National Park: Pauk] [Victoria Falls: Zest-pk] [Zambezi River: Laura]
Written by Joanna Simmons
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