The Lower Zambezi is one of the most scenic safari destinations in Africa –be wowed by the blue waters, sand banks and lush vegetation. Often overshadowed by Zambia’s other national parks and the wonder of Victoria Falls 450 kilometres upstream, expect rich wildlife densities and a plethora of activities – fish in the morning, canoe in the afternoon and enjoy game drives in-between to name just a few.
The Lower Zambezi National Park is arguably Zambia’s most diverse safari destination and certainly ranks highly when it comes to impressive scenery – it has also become the first ever carbon neutral national park. As your light aircraft comes into land, the vista spread out below you will be a vast valley carved out, with a mountainous backbone and dominated by a wide swathe of the mighty Zambezi dotted with sandy channels. Zambia’s Lower Zambezi lies on one side and Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park on the other.
Game viewing in the Lower Zambezi is equally impressive as elsewhere in Zambia although often not seen in the same numbers. Lion and leopard sightings are common and wild dogs are on the increase. Arguably it is the breath-taking elephant encounters that the Lower Zambezi is best known for. It is not uncommon to see elephants crossing from Zimbabwe to Zambia and vice versa – a journey documented by the tide mark often seen on their bodies. The birdlife here is equally impressive with many water species such as goliath hero and saddleback storks seen when out on the river. There are also colonies of Southern carmine bee-eaters who nest by drilling into the river bank which always provide a colourful show.
It is the diversity of activities on offer in the Lower Zambezi which really marks it out from elsewhere. In addition to game drives and bush walks, camps and lodges make use of the river to full effect with fishing, boat cruises and canoeing all on offer. Not only do these activities make a nice change from being in a vehicle but also offer a whole new perspective on African wildlife and the importance of water to them. Camps and lodges in the Lower Zambezi are located either in the main national park or the bordering concession – Chiawa Game Management Area. There is not a huge difference between the two with activities taking place in both areas and animals moving between the two thanks to there being no fence – so don’t be put off by staying outside the park.