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ZAMBIA SAFARI UNIQUE?
What Makes Zambia Safari
by: Enestle zimba
Zambia is Africa's best kept
secret. It is the sleeping giant of African safari. It's also the
friendly people and the peace the country safeguards and continues
to enjoy. That's what makes the country a haven of peace for refuges
from civil strive. …And Zambia is the hub of African travel.
Zambia is located in south
central Africa with eight neighbouring countries. There are 19
national parks and 34 game management areas. Thus a whopping 30
percent of the country's 752,614 sq kms. The country has the largest
water resources in southern Africa. There are large empty tracts of
land in pristine state and a large wildlife estate. Zambia's unique
natural resources include minerals such as copper, precious stones
and lumber; both native hard wood and soft exotic pinewood timber.
The National Parks
Of the 19 national parks South
Luangwa is Zambia's premier game reserve. The South Luangwa National
Park has probably the largest variety and concentration of game in
Africa and perhaps in the world. Experts in wildlife safari consider
the 9,990 sq kms park has some of the finest viewing areas. It is
rated one of the top game reserves in the world with a unique
profusion of wildlife. Some animals are rare and only found in the
park. An example is the Thornicraft giraffe.
Another game reserve is the
Kafue National Park. The sprawling 22,400 sq kms is the second
largest national park in the world and is about the size of Wales in
Britain and twice the size of Yellowstone National Park in the USA.
The park is located in the central-western Zambia and boasts
excellent game viewing, bird watching and fishing.
The park has two unique
wetlands. The Busanga Floodplain in the northern sector is special.
The emerald green Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers crisscross it. Here
are found multi-species of animals and birds. The Busanga plain is
an antelope country. The endemic lechwe fill its plains. The park's
southern limit also breaks into another wetland the Nanzhila Plains.
The plains are next to Zambia's newest lake at the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam.
Copper and Gemstone Reserves
Apart from the fauna and flora
estate the country holds 6 percent of the worlds copper reserves. In
addition Zambia is the leading producer of precious and
semi-precious gemstones including the rare beauty, the green
emerald. Amethyst, garnet, tourmaline, citrine and their verities
are also found in Zambia. Most of the finished and semi-finished
gemstone products are exported worldwide.
Tracts of Land and the
The population to land ratio is
one of the lowest in Africa. At less than 15 people per sq km it is
one of the lowest in the world. The sparse population has left a
large portion of Zambia unspoiled and in its natural state.
You get to see teeming wildlife
in pristine wilderness. The wildlife is completely ‘wild and
untamed.' Some of the animals have had little or no contact with
humans. So the national parks present wildlife in its natural
habitat, the very same way nature has always wanted it to be.
The Rivers and Lakes of Zambia
Zambia's major rivers, lakes and
wetlands are considered to hold the largest component of water
resources in Southern Africa. There are four major rivers. The
Zambezi covers the largest part of Zambia from northwest through
southern to southeastern. The Kafue cuts the country in the middle.
The Luangwa nearly cuts off the eastern part of the country. But the
Chambeshi that discharge into Lake Bangweulu in north-central Zambia
has suffered name changes along its course. After leaving Bangweulu
it changes its name to Luapula River. It becomes the Congo River on
leaving Lake Mweru and entering the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the south is Lake Kariba on
the Zambezi. It was the largest man-made lake until the Aswan and
the Cobara Bassa were dammed. Lake Kariba is the latest destination
for safari investment besides the Victoria Falls. Another is Lake
Bangweulu surrounded by white sand beaches and by the tenth largest
wetland in Africa. The wetland is the home of the endemic lechwe
antelopes and the rare shoebill stork. The third is Lake Mweru on
the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. And Lake Tanganyika
Africa's deepest lake has its southern tip extending into northern
The Wild Zambezi River
One river that deserves
mentioning is the Zambezi River after which the country is named.
From its source near Kaleni Hills in the northwestern corner of the
country the Zambezi cuts a lying down “S” shape as it flows through
its course a total of 3,450 kms before discharging into the Indian
Ocean. Its entrance at the ocean is dramatic for it ends in many
river channels called a delta.
The Zambezi passes through
changing landscapes and environment. From the rapids in the
notrhwest through the wide river and the site of the “Likumbi Lya
Mize” ceremony of the Luvale people. It then passes through the
Zambezi floodplain where the Ku-omboka ceremony of the Lozi people
takes place. Later the river traverses a hilly area and becomes wide
and tranquil. Suddenly the river breaks into the world's most
spectacular waterfall. This is the mystic and awe-inspiring Victoria
Before the waterfall the Zambezi
passes through a point near Kazungula where four countries meet;
Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Nowhere else do countries
converge on one point in a manner such as this.
Down stream of the waterfall the
Zambezi collects into a lake at Kariba Dam. Down stream it is joined
firstly by the Kafue, Zambia's second largest river and secondly by
the Luangwa River at a confluence where three countries meet:
Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. …And before its mouth at the Indian
Ocean the Zambezi River forms the second and larger lake at
Cobara-Basa Dam in Mozambique.
The Beautiful Victoria Falls
Now the Victoria Falls is
something worth talking about. Its awesome, beautiful and a world
heritage site. The Toka-Leya people of Chief Mukuni who have always
lived there have built many shrines for their deities and
ceremonies. Because of the continuous thunder from the largest
curtain of falling water and the accompanying mist that plumes from
the bottom of the gorge they have called the waterfall
“Mosi-Oa-Tunya” meaning the “smoke that thunders”. But I like the
other name. “Shungu wa Mutitima.”
Little wonder Dr David Lingstone
the famous Scottish missionary doctor and explorer could not resist
to write in his dairy, “…scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon
by angels in their flight.” Because the beauty is awesome. Dr
Livingstone was the first European to see the waterfall on November
16, 1855. He named it after Queen Victoria.
At the bottom of the falls are
red Kalahari sands. Opposite the waterfall it rains 24 hours a day 7
days a week (24/7). This mist rain nurtures a small rainforest. And
two rain bows too. One is seen during the day and the second occurs
at night on a full moon. These are the popular solar and lunar
rainbows of Victoria Falls …but then that's another story!
Adventure Centre and the Safaris
After the Victoria Falls the
Zambezi River passes through nine gorges it has cut down 122 metres
deep. The nine gorges are in fact former waterfalls at different
stages of the development and migration of the falls up stream. This
migration covers the past 150 million years!
Now the gorges are a spectacular
sight. They also form part of the area where adrenaline pumping
adventures take place – whitewater rafting over 22 rapids, bungi
jumping through 122 metres, gorge swinging, abseiling, river
boarding, jet boating, etc. It is for this reason that Livingstone
town near the Victoria Falls is now recognized as the Southern
Africa Adventure Centre.
If you have a daredevil spirit
take to the air in a microlight flight. Fly over the Victoria Falls,
watch animals in the nearby Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park…and get
really close to the cascading water of the world's largest curtain
of falling water. But if you would rather like mundane pastime then
you might want to enjoy the “Flight of Angels.” Hire a helicopter or
indeed a rigid wing airplane. Even this choice will be your life's
Where to Stay
The banks of the Zambezi River
are dotted with many lodges and camping sites. A visit to the
Zambezi Waterfront might be what you want. More interesting though
is the theme designs of most lodges. They have a strong African
The Sun International resort is
the latest inclusion and is built closest to the Victoria Falls. The
resort is a combo of two hotels: one, the Zambezi Sun is a three
star hotel only minutes from the Victoria Falls and the other the
Royal Livingstone is a five star royal opulence.
The red walls of the Zambezi Sun
depict decorative symbols of prehistoric times. The colour of these
African drawings is similar to the Kalahari sands found at the
bottom of the falls. But the luxury of the Royal Livingstone is all
very different. The ever present butlers and staff wear uniforms
reminiscent of the dress of Dr Livingstone at the time he discovered
the waterfalls one and half centuries ago. He named the waterfalls
in honour of Victoria, then queen of England.
Next to the Mosi-Oa-Tunya
National Park is another new hotel. Chrismar Hotel has just been
completed near the 60 sq km national game park. It's as if the
hotels and lodges are ‘popping' up everyday!
In Lusaka the capital city of
Zambia you'll find other exciting hotels and lodges; the 5 star Taj
Pamodzi, the 5 star Hotel Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and other
The private game lodges are all
within fifty kms. Popular ones are the Lilayi Lodge, the Protea
Safari Lodge, and Chaminuka. But Siavonga at Lake Kariba has
exciting lakeshore lodges. It's only a two-hour drive from Lusaka.
My advice…you'll enjoy the hospitality of Zambia!
How to Get to Zambia
The choice is wide. You can
choose to arrive by air and land at any of the four international
airports that have full custom and immigration facilities. Mfuwe
International Airport is on the boundary with the Zambian premier
game reserve, the South Laungwa National Park. Another is at Ndola
on the Copperbelt of Zambia. And yet another is the Lusaka
International Airport 22 kms from the capital city of Zambia. But
Livingstone International Airport is special. Only 8 kms from the
Victoria Falls whose first sighting you get from the air on approach
And then you may choose to
arrive by road from any of the eight neighbouring countries but
mainly from Bostwana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Get on a plane or car and come
to Zambia …And you'll leave without ever forgetting Zambia safari!
About The Author
Enestle Zimba a geologist for
over twenty years manages Zambia African Safari (ZAS) part time.
Enestle promotes safaris and tourism in Zambia...and conservation is
his great passion.
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