A Lower Zambezi safari in Zambia offers an enchanting escape into the untamed beauty of the Zambezi River and its surrounding wilderness.
Accessible through the Jeki or Royal airstrips, getting to Lower Zambezi is typically done by a short flight from Lusaka or from the Luangwa. The lodges in this region range from luxurious safari lodges to tented camps, providing a range of accommodations to suit different preferences. Perched along the riverbanks or nestled within the woodland, these lodges offer panoramic views of the Zambezi and ensure a close connection with nature.
The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks (there are famously no giraffes as the hilly terrain that protects the Zambia River doesn’t suit them) but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. It lies opposite the famous Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
The river’s edge is overhung with a thick riverine fringe, including ebony and fig trees. Further inland is a floodplain fringed with mopane forest and interspersed with winterthorn trees and huge acacias. The rolling hills, which form the backdrop to the park, are covered in broadleaf woodland.
Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4 092km² / 2 542mi², most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end that acts as a physical barrier to most of the park’s animal species. Enormous herds of elephant, some up to a hundred strong, are often seen at the river’s edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard, and listen too for the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle.
Once there, visitors can embark on a variety of activities. Game drives provide an opportunity to encounter elephants, lions, buffalos, and other iconic African wildlife.
This part of the mighty Zambezi River has become a particular favorite with fishing aficionados. Healthy tigerfish and bream catches are common. Fishing trips can be organized from a number of the lodges that are found along the lush green river banks within Lower Zambezi National Park, as can canoeing trips and boat safaris. On these trips, it’s not uncommon to see large herds of elephants ‘island hopping’ across the river channels.
Guided walking safaris offer an intimate experience, revealing the smaller wonders of the bush and providing insights into tracking and bushcraft.
Cultural visits to nearby communities offer a chance to learn about local traditions and engage with the local people. The best time is mid-season from July to October but virtually all lodges and canoeing operators are open from about April to November. Fishing is at its best in September and October. From April to June, the bush is still dense and the grass long so it may be harder to spot game. Animals may also be skittish as they will not have seen many vehicles during the summer rainy season.
A Lower Zambezi safari promises a blend of thrilling adventures, serene landscapes, and unforgettable wildlife encounters in one of Africa's most picturesque settings.