Zambia, located in Southern Africa, bordering with 8 neighbouring countries, is a country renowned for its scenic splendour, colour, warmth and friendliness. Zambia is known as the undiscovered gem of Africa, and a safari in this vast country offers huge diversity: an exploration of a land filled with waterfalls, lakes, rivers and wetlands, and the discovery of a country proud of its’ culture and traditions, abundant wildlife and exotic wilderness. Zambia boasts 19 national game parks, including the Kafue National Park, Africa’s largest game reserve, and the South Luangwa, known as one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations. Zambia and Zimbabwe’s borders meet at one of the natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls, and one of the largest man-made lakes, Lake Kariba.
At the crossroads of the north-south and east-west ‘highways’, you will find the Greater City of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. With many excellent, high quality hotels, restaurants and shopping centres, Lusaka has experienced a tremendous amount of positive development in the past decade. Despite this commercial development, Lusaka’s many local markets are still in full swing. Markets where you can buy anything ranging from fruit and vegetables, to curios and ‘chitenges’, the local fabric. A visit to the Lusaka Museum and various cultural villages gives an in-depth insight to the cultural heritage and history of the Zambian people.
For those less into culture or markets, but looking for more adventure and adrenalin, Livingstone is the place to be. Known as the Adventure Capital of Africa, the Livingstone area is the perfect destination for an action packed visit.The mighty Zambezi river allows for rafting or river boarding on world-class white-water rapids which have are reputed as being some of the most challenging in the world. For those who prefer not to get their feet wet, never fear, there is an abundance of other things to do which will get your blood pumping! There is the most spectacular bungi jump on earth, off the Victoria Falls Bridge, suspended 150 m above the Zambezi river! Or soaring with the eagles during a microlight flight over the Falls, a calm paddle down the river in a canoe whilst admiring the wildlife on the banks of the Zambezi, or take a horse back trail along the river and through surrounding teak forests.
Zambia has a temperate climate thanks to it’s altitude. There are three main seasons. – November to March are usually hot with thunderstorms; – April through to July the days are dry and warm, mornings and nights can be cold; And August to October, the most pleasant months, are warm to hot, and dry.
Zambia’s 10 million people are mostly Africans of Bantu origin, belonging to a large number of tribes which speak 73 dialects, although the official language is English. About 40% to 50% of the population lives in the urban area’s, mainly Lusaka and the Copperbelt. There are 7 major tribes in Zambia. – The Bemba live mainly in the Copperbelt, Central, Luapula and Northern Provinces. – The Kaonde,Luvale and Lunda people originate from the North-Western Province,
– The Ngoni are the Nyanja-speaking people coming from Eastern Province. Nowadays Nyanja is widely spoken in Lusaka, and other parts of the country. The Lozi Kingdom finds itself in Western Province. Then there are the Tonga people from the Southern Province
There is a lot of homogeneity among the tribes in Zambia. Some of the tribes descend from the same empire, and there has been a long history of tribes resettling around the country which brought them in contact with each other. Zambia’s first President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda stood for national unity but also appreciated the different languages and cultures. Although there might be some rivalry among some of the tribes, Zambia is One Peaceful Nation. A nation in which Tradition, Family and Proper Conduct are the pillars of society. Family and the tribe are central features in the traditional culture in Zambia. Families are large (often between 6-10 children), and extended family and the idea of kinship is very important. Weddings are therefore of great importance as is the “lobola”, or bride price which the groom must pay to the family of his wife-to-be. Tribal bonds are reinforced by various ceremonies which include initiation rites. To be a responsible member of the group and to carry its traditions forward to the next generation is the message most stressed during initiations.
Although the Zambian people are generally very friendly and easy going towards foreigners, they strongly dislike vocal criticism of the government or country, public nudity or seminudity, and public displays of affection or anger. It is expected that respect be shown and politeness practised towards older people, teachers, doctors, people in authority such as immigration officers, police and village chiefs.
Zambia first gained European attention in the 1890s when British business magnate Cecil Rhodes sent expeditions into the area to look for more minerals and cheap labor for his South African mines. Rhodes found what he was looking for and claimed the area, which eventually became known as Northern Rhodesia. A British protectorate from 1924 until 1953, Northern Rhodesia joined what are now Zimbabwe and Malawi in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation was peacefully dissolved in 1964 and newly named Zambia became an independent, multiracial republic.
Kenneth Kaunda, one of the heroes of the independence movement, was named president of the new country, a position he held for the next 27 years. Kaunda imprinted the nation with his vision of “humanism,” a mixture of socialism and Christianity. For a while, it worked. Some of the world’s largest deposits of copper lie beneath Zambian soil, and when copper prices were high, the nation used exports to establish a relatively high standard of living. Unfortunately, when the price of the metal tumbled in the 1970s so did living standards.
In 1990, conditions were bad enough to generate civil unrest, leading to a decision to schedule multiparty elections. In 1991, President Kaunda was replaced by Frederick Chiluba, in what is regarded as one of the smoothest and fairest national elections Africa has ever witnessed. Chiluba instituted a number of free-market reforms, which sent food prices soaring and the national currency plummeting.
His successor President Levy Mwanawasa tried to put an end to the wide spread corruption in the country, and he managed to restore the economy. His death unfortunately came too early, in 2008. President Banda then was elected for a 2 year period, until the next elections will take place.
Zambia is about the size of Western Europe but with a population of less than 11 million people (of which 40-45% lives in the Copperbelt and around Lusaka) Zambia’s countryside has remained largely untouched. Zambia is relatively industrialised. Mining products are still Zambia’s principal export earner, other export products include agricultural and horticultural products, gemstones, timber and cement. A relatively high percentage of agricultural produce (mainly maize) comes from the surplus of small scale farmers. Tobacco, maize, wheat, groundnut and beef are produced mainly by a small number of commercial farmers.
Cities & Towns
Being the capital of Zambia Lusaka offers a range of quality restaurants and accommodation. The Greater City has a few vibrant markets and crafts-centres, an interesting National Museum, and since recently some excellent cinema’s and a ten-pin bowling. Situated on the crossing of the Great East and the Great North Road, Lusaka is an interesting mix of influences from the region. Over the past few years a lot of people from the rural area’s have come to Lusaka to try their fortune, resulting in the establishment of extensive compounds and ghettos on the outskirts of town.
Named the Tourist Capital of Zambia and the Adventure Capital of Africa the town has put the emphasis on adventure sports such as rafting, river boarding, bungee jumping, micro lighting, elephant back rides and so on. Top priority to the visitor however, remains a visit to the majestic Mosi-o-Tunya Fall’s, also known as the Victoria Fall’s.
Lakes & Rivers & Waterfalls
Zambia is estimated to have 45% of the total water-resources of southern Africa. The multitude of rivers, lakes and swamps host an enormous and varied fish population.
In the Zambezi River and it’s side-streams one could fish for Tigerfish, numerous species of Bream, Largemouth, Vundu (a Barbel), Bottlenose and Cornish Jack. Lake Tanganyika is renowned for Goliath Tigerfish and Nile Perch. The devoted fisherman comes here for the Kupi, swallow-tailed and gold in colour the Kupi guarantees a good fight and if prepared well a delicious meal. In the Kafue River one can angle for the Kafue Pike, the Largemouth and the Squeeker. The Silver Barbel is good fun to catch and release (but they taste like mud)
The Kundalila Falls at Kanona in northern Zambia drop 65 meters to fall into a clear pool that invites for a swim in the Kaombe River. The Kalungwishi River near Lake Mweru feeds the spectacular Kundabwika and Lumangwe Fall’s : thirty meters high and some 120 meters wide these fall’s are in many ways a small-scale version of the Mosi-o-Tunya Fall’s.
Mosi-o-Tunya Falls – also known as Victoria Falls
Mosi-o-Tunya means ‘the Smoke that Thunders’. Hereby the locals used to refer to the noise and the spray coming from the Fall’s. More than one million litres of water per hour pour down over a 1,7 kilometer ridge, into a canyon that is more than a hundred meters deep. Looking into the spray in the canyon you might see dozens of rainbows reflecting your excitement. And by moonlight you might have the enlightening experience of seeing a lunar rainbow! These Fall’s are one of the most majestic monuments in the world. If you come and see it for yourself you will feel it for yourself : Romance, Magic and soaking wet!
In 1959 the last skip of concrete was poured onto a 128m high, 600m long and 26m thick wall that would hold back the might of the Zambezi for 280 kilometre! Lake Kariba today is still one of the biggest man-made lakes in the world. The primary function of Lake Kariba was to generate hydro-electric power, later a sardine-like fish from Lake Tanganyika, the Kapenta was introduced in these waters which has boosted a fishing industry.
The building of Kariba has generated many stories of heroism and endeavour. Operation Noah, in which thousands of animals were rescued from the rising waters, caught the imagination of the world. Nowadays tourism has also become a successful industry, in Siavonga there are numerous facilities to overnight, at Sinazongwe one can embark on a houseboat for a few days or visit one of the largest crocodile farms in the world. Every year in October there is an international Tigerfishing Tournament at the Lake on the Zimbabwe side that attracts international competitors.
Elephants and Buffalo’s appear in large herds in several of the parks and back from the rivers in the grasslands there are herds of ‘plains game’ such as Zebra, Impala and Puku. In the bush there are Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Duikers and Klipspringers, to name a few Antelope species. Where there are grazers you will find predators. The Cheetah and the Wild Dog are quite elusive but the Lion, Hyena and even the Leopard are frequently seen.
There are no more Rhino in the wild in Zambia, but species like the Lechwe still maintain massive populations.
There are endemic species like the Defassa Waterbuck in the Kafue National Park and the Thornicroft Giraffe and Cookson’s Wildebeest in South Luangwa.
The Roan Antelope, the Wild Dog, the Honey Badger, Pangolin and Aardvark are considered to be endangered species but are still frequently seen in Zambia.
Bird Watchers will find their Walhalla in Zambia: over 750 species have been recorded here. Zambia has only one endemic species, the Chaplin’s Barbet, but the bird watcher is treated to a number of other rare species that hardly occur in the rest of the region anymore.
Like the African Finfoot, the Wattled Crane, the Shoebill Stork or the Yellow Billed Stork. Like Pel’s Fishing Owl or the Knysna Lourie, Meyer’s Parrot or Black Cheeked Lovebirds. We recommend Roberts and Newman’s field guides and a pair of good binoculars to fully enjoy the presence of these birds during your stay in Zambia.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fishes
The Nile Crocodile can grow up to 6 meters and looks best from a little distance. The Monitor Lizard, the Common Flap Necked Chameleon and the House Gecko could be your pets. The African Python can grow up to 5 meters and could swallow a whole Impala, but as for the other snakes, the chances that you would meet one are slim
The Cape Vine Snake is so well camouflaged that you wouldn’t even see it if it was right in front of your nose. It is venomous but not aggressive. Look for the African Bullfrog : it grows to 14 cm and it can make a hell of a lot of noise! On the anthill’s you might find the Red Toad looking for a meal.
Most famous fish is no doubt the Tigerfish or even the Goliath Tigerfish or Nile Perch from Lake Tanganyika. We find a few species of Catfish and a wide variety of Bream in the Zambian waters. Unfortunately snorkeling is no good in these waters but for the fisherman circumstances just could not be better. Please look in our page with Links and recommended Books and Guides for more topics about wildlife in Zambia that might interest you.
Game Management Areas
Zambia has 31 Game Management area’s. These were established as buffer-zones around the National Parks, separating them from farmland and offering space for commercial hunting. There can be as many or as few animals in the Game Management Area’s as in the National Parks but often there is a lack of game viewing loops in the GMA’s which limits the chances of good sightings sometimes.