Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. While it is bordered by many countries, including Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, the country boasts incredible heritage sites, diverse wildlife, rugged terrain, and a vibrant culture. These are just some of the many reasons to visit Zambia.
The country has a rich history and culture, along with impressive natural sights. Three great rivers (the Kafue, the Luangwa and the Zambezi) flow through the vast country. They provide the perfect backdrop for a landscape where animals wander free. From the mesmerising wilderness to a lack of crowds, here are 6 reasons to visit Zambia this year.
1Numerous National Parks
There are 20 amazing national parks across Zambia, along with 34 game management areas. Together they make up almost 30% of the country. They provide an opportunity to see lions, buffaloes, elephants, rhinos and leopards (also known as the ‘Big 5’ of Africa). The largest is Kafue National Park, where you can take hot air balloon rides over the Busanga Plains. You can see the endemic Thornicroft giraffe, or Rhodesian giraffe, South Luangwa National Park. At Liuwa Plain National Park, you can see massive blue wildebeest migration each November, and fruit bat migration between October and December at Kasanka National Park.
2Rich Cultural Heritage
Zambia has a vast history and culture. Home to over 72 tribes, there are lots of unique traditions and ceremonies you can experience. One of the most vibrant is the Kuomboka of the Lozi tribe. It recreates the King’s movement during the monsoon from his palace in the floodplains, Lealui, to one on higher ground, Limulunga. There are also more recent castles and manors to explore. Check out the Shiwa Ng’andu Manor in the Great Rift Valley of the Muchinga Province built by an English soldier called Sir Stewart Gore Browne. You can also visit the Norman Style 20th-century Lundazi Castle built by Errol Button.
One of the most famous places in Zambia is the Victoria Falls in Livingstone, on the border with Zimbabwe. Created by the Zambezi River plunging into the narrow Batoka Gorge, it is the world’s largest sheet of falling water. There are lots of activities to do here, such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, or swimming. There are also plenty of opportunities to go on a safari, hiking, snorkelling, and even on hot air balloon rides across the country. The rivers also provide an opportunity for canoe rides and rafting.
While the history and culture of Zambia were originally transmitted orally, museums were built across the country after its independence. They highlight the country’s heritage, art, politics and tribes. One of the best places to start is the Lusaka National Museum in Lusaka, the country’s capital. You can also see the Choma Museum and Crafts Center that explores the heritage of the Tonga tribe and the Nayuma Museum in Mongu with information on the Lozi tribe. Don’t miss the Livingstone Natural History Museum which has exhibits of everything from archaeology to politics.
Eating is a major part of Zambian culture. No social event is complete without a barbeque filled with delicious traditional dishes. A staple is nshima, a sort of porridge made with corn meal. It is served with meat, fish, and vegetables. You can also try chikanda, a sort of vegetarian meatloaf, vitumbuwa, sweet fried dough balls, and michopo, a roasted meat dish often served with beer and Mosi, the local lager. Don’t miss traditional seasonal Zambian fruits (such as masuku and masau) and local delicacies such as ifinkubala (fried caterpillars) and inswa (fried ants).
Zambia is full of vast serene lakes that are full of amazing things to do. Located near the capital city of Lusaka, Lake Kariba is a popular getaway. It is known for its spectacular sunsets and has houseboats for hire. You can also visit the clear waters of Lake Kashiba. Created by the erosion of limestone, the bright blue waters are said to be home to a mythical monster called ‘Ichitapa’ or ‘lsoka lkulu’. The vast Lake Bangweulu, surrounded by white sandy beaches and lodges, is also a popular destination. If you enjoy adventure, the deep Lake Tanganyika is the perfect place to snorkel and scuba dive. Here you can see all kinds of fish, as well as sunken ships.
Zambia has something for any type of traveller. From safaris and adventure sports to serene lakes and rich history, there is any number of reasons to visit Zambia. With so much to do and see, the best time to visit is during the dry season, May to October.