Have a look through most reputable international travel guides and you’ll find that the whole of Zambia is all too often reduced to little more than Victoria Falls. Spectacular as the falls are, this is a terrible injustice to the rest of this incredible and enigmatic country that I have come to love so deeply. From pristine, unspoilt national parks teeming with game, oceans as big as lakes and some of the finest lodges you’ll find anywhere in Africa right through to the rich cultural heritage and incredibly welcoming people, Zambia has so much to offer those in search of a unique African adventure that a single ‘listicle’ could never really suffice to say it all.
So take this rundown of five Zambian highlights as little more than a small glimpse of the entire package that makes Zambia, in my eyes at least, the most special place to visit in the warm heart of southern Africa:
South Luangwa National Park
Although South Luangwa is only about half the size of other southern African heavyweights like Kruger in South Africa or Etosha in Namibia and not so well-known internationally, from my experience Zambia’s finest comes out on top every time. Aptly nicknamed the Valley of the Leopard, if you go to South Luangwa and don’t see leopard you need your eyes tested. The incredibly diverse landscapes range from dense forests of mopane trees and the leopard’s favourite sausage trees, to wide open savanna punctuated only by the occasional lonely baobab, all hugged by the wide and winding Luangwa River. Stay at the rustic Track and Trail River Camp just outside the park and enjoy their unique photographic game drives, or if it all gets a bit too much just relax and watch the hippos from the raised riverside rim-flow pool.
*Image of giraffes via Shutterstock