Top Ten Things to See in Zambia (with Photos)


Update 4/3/12:  Many thanks to WordPress for promoting this post to Freshly Pressed! And thanks to everyone stopping by to visit World Adventurers and say hello. You’re most welcome. There are more than 825 posts on travel and other topics for your reading enjoyment listed in the Category Cloud below. Enjoy!

Here’s a list of the top ten things you should do if you visit Zambia, a country in Southern Africa. Zambia lies southwest of Tanzania, which is featured in my book Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill. The two countries are similar in many ways, with plenty of opportunities to see amazing natural beauty, go on thrilling wildlife safaris, and experience Africa’s unique culture.

This list is based on my own experiences when I lived in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital and largest city. These activities and destinations will give you a taste of what this interesting country has to offer.

1. Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya (Zambia/Zimbabwe): Arguably the world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls in Southern Province never ceases to amaze visitors. This is Zambia’s — and Zimbabwe’s — biggest tourist attraction. It lives up to its local (Tongan) name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning “The Smoke that Thunders.” Most visitors stay in the nearby towns of Livingstone, Zambia or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The upper falls is in Zambia, while the lower portion is on the Zimbabwe side. Both offer different and spectacular views of this natural wonder. Of special note are the two statues of the explorer and missionary David Livingstone (1813-73) locate on each side of the falls. Livingstone is still revered by many Zambians, and the City of Livingstone is named after him.

Victoria Falls (4)

Victoria Falls (1)

The best time of the year to visit the falls is between July and September, when the Zambezi River is aplomb with water. In November and December, the falls are almost dry and look like a canyon. Heavy rainfall fills the Zambezi between January and May, and it’s difficult to see the falls through a wall of mist created by falling water.

Victoria Falls (5)

For a few weeks in November, the water level is so low that visitors can swim in the “Devil’s Pool.” It’s an experience of a lifetime and highly recommended if you visit at that time. The pool lies at the edge of the falls with a 105-meter (350 foot) drop on the other side. Although it looks terrifying, the Devil’s Pool offers brave souls the sensation of swimming in a whirlpool bathtub. If you’re an adventurous sort, there’s also bungee jumping or zip lining from the Victoria Falls Bridge and whitewater rafting in some unruly rapids below the falls. Keep in mind that these activities can be dangerous. In January 2012, an Australian woman nearly died when she bungee jumped off the bridge and the cord snapped, sending her plummeting more than 110 meters (360 feet). Thankfully, she survived both the plunge and the crocodiles below.

Victoria Falls (6)

2. South Luangwa National Park: South Luangwa National Park is one of many national parks in Zambia, and the most popular, because it’s filled with abundant wildlife. It’s a short flight or a ten-hour drive from Lusaka via Eastern Province. Flying is more convenient but can be expensive. The daytime and nighttime game drives in South Luangwa are fabulous.

Luangwa (1)

Luangwa (3)

Luangwa (4)

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Luangwa (2)

For high-end lodging, stay at the Chichele Lodge, the presidential retreat of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda (1964-91), or at Mfuwe Lodge. There are numerous less expensive lodges and bush camps in and around the park.

Luangwa (7)

3. Lower Zambezi River: The Lower Zambezi River basin in Southern Province is a short drive south from Lusaka and a great place for a long weekend getaway. There are several lodges near the towns of Chirindu and Chiawa not far from the confluence of the Zambezi and Kafue rivers. It’s great for bush camp excursions, hunting, fishing, and boat cruises, and popular with tourists who want to fish for tigerfish or camp “in the bush.”

Zambezi (1)

4. Northern Circuit: Zambia is keen to promote tourism in Northern Province on the Tanzanian border. Kasaba Bay on Lake Tanganika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, is currently under development as a major tourist destination. Once it’s completed sometime in the next decade, the area will boast several high-end resorts. Fly to the Mbala airport near Kasaba Bay, or into the regional capital, Kasama. Hire a car and travel the back roads through beautiful country with subtropical forests, colorful villages, and spectacular waterfalls overshadowed by Victoria Falls such as Chishimba Falls.

Northern (1)

Northern (2)

Northern (3)

Northern (4)

5. Saturday Dutch Market: Every last Saturday of the month, Zambia’s largest open-air market sets up shop at the Dutch Reformed Church in the Kabulonga area of Lusaka. Artisans from Zambia and neighboring countries bring their arts and crafts to you. It’s one of the few places where you can find Zimbabwean soap stone sold next to Zambian copper plates. You can also taste a variety of ethnic dishes and buy produce. If you miss this market, try the smaller Sunday Market at the Arcades Shopping Centre in Lusaka that happens every week. Be sure to bargain – the vendors will reduce prices below their original quotes and expect you to barter.

Market (1)

Market (2)

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6. Lake Kariba: Spend a weekend on the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Kariba, located in Southern Province on the Zimbabwean border. Stay in the town of Siavonga for a relaxing getaway. Take a boat cruise and visit Lake Kariba Dam. Dine on local crayfish. Click here for a detailed account of our trip to Lake Kariba in 2010.

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7. Western Province/Barotseland: Western Province, also called Barotseland, is a large and relatively remote province on the Angolan border. To get there, fly to the capital, Mongu, and hire a car, or self-drive. The province is home to Liuwa Plains National Park, the most isolated and least visited of all national parks in Zambia.

Western (1)

Western (2)

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Western (4)

It’s worth a trip in November at the end of the dry season to see the world’s second largest wildebeest migration, when the herds turn south and head to Namibia. A word of caution — the park is very remote and impassible by land during the rainy season. Even with a 4’x4′ vehicle, the roads are very sandy and difficult to navigate any time of the year. It’s better to visit with an experienced guide.

Liuwa (1)

Liuwa (2)

Western Province is also worth a visit in April to watch the Kuomboka Traditional Ceremony held each year by the Lozi tribe commemorating the end of the rainy season. The date varies with the end of the season. Held at the Barotse king’s palace in Limilunga, it is arguably the country’s most famous traditional ceremony and a great example of Zambian culture. The gift shop at the Barotse Royal Museum sells local arts and crafts. With recent political unrest in Western Province, ask ahead if you’re thinking about attending a ceremony, and avoid discussing Barotseland with locals.

Western (3)

Western (5)

8. Kafue National Park: Although not as famous as South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park in Central Province is a good weekend getaway from Lusaka. It’s Zambia’s oldest and largest national park. Although it suffered for years from game poaching, the animal population has recently rebounded. It’s an easy three-hour drive west of Lusaka, and after a paved road is built, north from Livingstone. Stay at Mukambi Lodge, which is easily accessible from the highway, or at one of several lodges that follow the Kafue River south to the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam. Go with an experienced guide if you plan to venture off the beaten path.

Kafue (1)

Kafue (2)

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9. Visit a compound: Most urban Zambians live in neighborhoods known as “compounds.” Ask a local whom you trust to take you in the daytime to one of the safer compounds. Try drinking Shake-Shake chibuku (fermented corn meal) at a local pub. Two of the largest and safer compounds in Lusaka are the Bauleni and Kalingalinga compounds. Walk around the compound and savor the unique flavor of everyday Zambian life. Meet new friends who will be curious why you’re visiting. Leave your valuables at home to avoid petty theft. Below:  Kipushi, a town on the Zambian-DR Congo border.

Compound (1)

The following photos were taken in compounds around Lusaka and Solwezi, the capital of North-Western Province.

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10. Kasanka Bat Migration: Each October, the world’s largest migration of giant fruit bats happens at Kasanka National Park in Northern Province. You’ll go batty with excitement or fear from the approximately eight million fruit bats that swarm harmlessly above you in a beautifully orchestrated dance.

Kasanka (1)

Kasanka (2)

I couldn’t list everything you can do when you visit Zambia. Some honorable mentions include the Source of the Zambezi River, a place of special significance to the Zambian people, in the remote Mwinilunga district of North-Western Province; Shiwa N’gandu in Northern Province; the mines of Copperbelt Province; Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province; and the Livingstone Memorial in Itala where David Livingstone’s heart (yes, his heart) was buried under an Mvula tree.

The Zambian climate fluctuates between the dry season (July-November) and the rainy season (December-May). Although the best times to visit are in May and November, Zambia is always beautiful and welcomes you with open arms.

Luangwa (12)

Map picture

Note: This is an updated version of a blog entry originally posted in April 2011.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His next book, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be released on March 31, 2012. He lived in Lusaka, Zambia during 2009-11 and now lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

181 thoughts on “Top Ten Things to See in Zambia (with Photos)

  1. utpal sharma says:

    i wish , to have a visit to Zambia once in my life.feeling good in the way of returning home from hectic office works. Thank you!

  2. Each country in our earth has it’s unique, including Africa and Zambia. They have “animal theatre” and other natural things.

    Beautiful pic.s !

    • Zambia is absolutely a breath-taking place and the Zambian people the most welcoming in Africa. We were there two years ago. Visited the Victoria Falls and went on a game drive. Amazing experience. English is the official language, so you pretty much get around easily.

  3. limey says:

    As someone who grew up in Zambia, I approve of this list and over the years I have done most of them.

    The Victoria Falls are rightly number one. I can’t remember how many time I have seen them, they are a wonderful sight and only the Grand Canyon has challenged them as my favorite place in the world.

  4. limey says:

    Reblogged this on A limey's ramblings and commented:
    I’m reblogging this because Zambia is a country I love and anything that promotes Zambia in a positive way get my vote.

    This is a great list and I am proud to have been able to do most of the items on that list while I was growing up there.

  5. mgedwards says:

    Thanks all for the great comments! I’m glad you like the photos and post. I live in Thailand now, and everytime I see these photos it reminds me of how beautiful Zambia is. It’s a great country and tourist destination.

    I also posted a top ten for Korea here: http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/top-ten-things-to-do-in-korea-with-photos/. I plan to post top ten lists for other countries where I’ve lived, Paraguay and Thailand, soon.

  6. Lotto Ergebnisse says:

    Brilliant pictures! Two pictures one that says “No money no life” and the other one ” and the other one says “Obama – World of spirits, drinks and groceries” are hilarious.

  7. dogsaremylife says:

    What a gorgeous place, the photo’s are fantastic, definitely makes me what to see it all for myself, maybe one day :-)

  8. aleksledocteur says:

    UAUUU, I would love to go to Africa, especially this part, Zambia, Tanzania… Those photos makes you wanna go there now.

    Great job.

  9. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!

    • mgedwards says:

      Hi, thanks for asking. Sure, it’s okay to reblog, repost or quote as long as you credit and provide links back to my site. Thanks!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing the wondeful pictures.

    We just came from Zambia and did the following additional activities that are FUN!

    1) Ride a Microlite over Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River

    2) Take a Full Day White Water Rafting Trip down the Zambezi River (the trip starts by Victoria Falls in a Class 5 Rapid)

    3) Walk with the Lions in a Lion Preserve

  11. It’s such shame that so many Americans (myself included) know so little about Africa. Man, these photos make me want to visit and learn more about the continent, it’s peoples, nations, cultures, climes, and wildlife.

  12. Diane says:

    Reblogged this on My Art Zone and commented:
    Yesterday I blogged about 7 Things… one of which included being born in Zambia and today this post was promoted on Freshly Pressed! Fantastic photos – makes me feel quite homesick!

  13. ~MIAH~ says:

    An amazing adventure and you really provided an excellent analysis of places to travel within the country. I love the falls, I remember watching this on a National Geographic documentary and I’m so impressed you were able to discuss it in greater detail. A wonderful post.

  14. What’s truly bizarre is that I would never associate Zambia with waterfalls — but they’re gorgeous, and learning that’s the biggest tourist attraction made me feel slightly less worldly!
    ;)

    Thanks for the education…it was a beautiful one!

  15. As an ex-African Travel consultant its so refreshing to see a list with some surprises! There are a few places/things to see/do on here that I would have never known about.

    Makes me miss Africa!

  16. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful photos! I have a dear friend in the Peace Corps who is stationed in Zambia right now and he hasn’t had a chance to post many photos or share a lot of what it’s like. This post showed up on the WordPress homepage right on time! <3

  17. So close to nature – people coexisting with beauty on earth. A glimpse into a life style soon to become extinct and you captured it for all of us in a way that makes us feel we were there with you.

  18. Wow, all the places you’ve mentioned look incredible and your photos are beautiful. It’s a very helpful guide if we ever get a chance to travel to Zambia, which I would love to do some day! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  19. I’d love to go to Africa. My wife and I have been praying about going to Ghana to help with an orphanage called Haven of Hope, but I must confess that seeing a few countries while on that continent would be nice as well. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of Zambia!

  20. thebitchybride says:

    I’ve seen two of these ten (Vic Falls and Kariba Lake) and hope I get to go back one day to see the rest. Amazing photos! x

  21. I’d love to visit Victoria Falls someday! I had just heard about the woman who had survived her accident there, I would enjoy watching others bungee off the bridge, but am not sure If I would have it in me to try it myself! Great pictures, love the glimpse of a totally different experience there.

  22. Milanist says:

    Hey there, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, excellent blog!

  23. This is awesome!
    I lived in Zambia for a year and I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane! Zambia really is one of Africa’s hidden jewels and I loved seeing all the pictures!!!!
    (and swimming at the edge of the falls is amazing. everyone should experience Victoria Falls in every season, so beautiful!)

  24. fayzwordz says:

    Hi! We went to Vic Falls and South Luanga National Park last year. Absolutely fabulous!! I loved Zambia and wish I could visit again one day to see the other places you mention in your Top 10 list! Thanks for sharing your photos – mine are still being edited!! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  25. sonjarosas says:

    What an amazing post. Thanks so much for taking me on a Tuesday trip to the bush. I’ve always wanted to go and I’m glad I got a chance to see all these things through your lens. :)

  26. mgedwards says:

    Thank you all for your comments and well wishes. I appreciate it and am so happy you discovered my blog! Life is crazy at the moment with my new e-book, releasing it in print tomorrow, and now, Freshly Pressed! After this is over I’ll try to stop by your blogs and say hello. Thanks so much for connecting.

  27. Beautiful photos! I grew up in Tanzania, but one of my closest friends lived on a farm in Livingston where you could see the mist from Victoria Falls. I had the privilege of visiting her there a couple of times and it is absolutely one of the most stunning places that I have ever been and one of my favorite in all the world . The falls are so powerful, I love the way that you get drenched by the mists just by being near it.
    I travel a lot, and take only 3 “home” items with me every time that I move countries, one of the three is a photograph of Vic falls which I will always cherish. Thanks for sharing! Zambia love!

  28. What a great collection of photos. Zambia is a wonderful country – I was last there, canoeing down the Zambeezi the day that Princess Diana died in fact, so my memories are a little hazy/surreal. I am definitely too chicken for the ‘Devil’s Pool’ and as for that poor Australian girl bungee jumping….how horrific.

  29. Thanks for such a great blog entry! I’d love to reblog this on my blog (once I figure out how to do that). I’ve been to Zimbabwe several times but I’ve never been to Vic Falls or Lake Kariba. These photos definitely make me want to visit them. Thanks again!

  30. Love your photo of the giraffe bent over drinking water. It’s the first time I’ve seen a photo of a giraffe doing this. And I love all the elephants photos. One elephants looks like he needs to go on a diet.

  31. Wow… I never know zambia have a beautiful spot because when I looking for vacation in Africa there is only cape town in my mind first. Thank you for sharing

  32. Thanks for sharing this get post. Zambia is absolutely amazing, and I would recommend anyone who wants to go on a special vacation, honeymoon, or anniversary to certainly think about it. You can never go wrong and you will get your money’s worth. One of the most politically stable countries in Africa, and the Zambian people are the most friendly people on earth. Amazing pictures, Thanks for sharing!

  33. Anarya Andir says:

    Wow is all I have to say! What an amazing post and what beautiful photos. You also lived in Zambia??? I was there for 6 years (in school) in Lusaka and I remember it every single day of my life. It’s such a beautiful country. It will always be close to my heart and I will consider myself blessed if I ever return to Zambia. I’m so glad someone wrote about it :). Thank you!

  34. This post gave me chills and brought back so many memories.I’ve been to most of the places on the list.It’s so surreal how you captured the details.As a Zambian,I definitely enjoyed this post.Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a memorable experience.I will be reblogging this.:)

  35. James says:

    Zambia looks like a very beautiful and interesting place. I knew a guy from Zambia when I was in college he was a cool guy…

  36. This is amazing I really love all the pictures. I am attending college to get a degree in Digital Media/Film and my dream job is to go around the world and visit as many countries as possible while taking pictures and documenting every moment of my time.

  37. Absolutely beautiful!!! Thanks so much for sharing! I hope to see all of Zambia’ beauty in person someday!!! Thanks again for posting!!!

  38. Great pictures, sadly I wont be able to include this part of Africa into my trip this summer but I’m sure Tanzania will be great aswell :-)

  39. Great post and great pictures. I can’t wait until I go to Africa, whenever that may be, but it will be in the next few years for sure. I have a friend from Africa who owns a teak farm and he says I’m welcome anytime, it will be a lot of fun.

  40. mgedwards says:

    Thank you, everyone! Your responses have been overwhelming! I was surprised to be featured on Freshly Pressed and even more by how many of you have visited and posted positive comments! To my Zambian brothers and Zambia-philes, I apologize for letting the world know what a beautiful place Zambia is. My time there was magical. So often it’s overshadowed by its neighbors, but it’s a hidden gem. I hope all of you will consider adding Zambia to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to Africa. It’s a special place. After this roller coaster ride is over, I’ll go through all the comments and well wishes and stop by to visit your blogs too. Thanks for your support!

  41. Awesome pictures. I’ve been to a number of different African countries, but not Zambia. It’s great to “visit” through your blog post and pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  42. If you are planning a visit to Zambia, be sure to check out my blog for more info on great places to visit (including more info about the Kasanka Bat Migration and the David Livingstone Memorail ), at nsoberoute.wordpress.com!

    • mgedwards says:

      Great, glad you liked the post. Thanks for visiting my blog; I appreciate it! Zambia is a beautiful country. I really enjoyed my time there. I hope you can go back for a visit and rediscover it.

  43. Lulu says:

    I’m from Zambia and away from home this year and the next and feeling a little homesick. Love your pics and the descriptions that go with them. You really captured a true picture of Z. Thank you so much!

    • mgedwards says:

      Thanks, Lulu! I’m glad you liked the photos. I hope you can go back to visit Zambia someday soon. It’s a beautiful country!

  44. malingose says:

    my God you have captured the true Zambia,am a Zambian living in Zambia and when i saw these photos i was so amazed at how beautiful my country is,am going to be visit the victoria falls this july with a friend from Canada,i cant wait to see her face light at the site of the mosi-oa-tunya and many other great places am to take her…you all who want to visit my country are most welcome….Mgedwards thank you for the love and passion you have for my country and for sharing its beauty with the world..

    • mgedwards says:

      Thank you very much! It was my pleasure. I’m really glad you liked the post. It’s a great compliment when someone from Zambia thinks I captured the beauty of the country well. I miss it! It’s a wonderful place.

  45. Ok!! am Zambian and i was on Holiday in Livinstone (home of the Mighty Victoria Falls) with my friends (zambians too) a month ago (and i was born in the town of Livingstone-so you can imagin the feeling). I have to say these photos are breathtaking and you did a better job than i could ever do in showing off how beautiful this country is-which you have now made fall in love with over again. Just seeing these pics has made me put the other destinations on my list on hold….checks out like i still got other places to explore see this year in this country of mine.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience in Zambia.!!!

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