There is also the attraction of some curio shopping – with one of the best places being the Mukuni Victoria Falls Craft Village. Mukuni Village is an authentic tribal village where thousands of people live and work.
From a wildlife perspective, there is Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which runs for some 12 kilometres along the River, and includes the Falls themselves. It is a small park, but is home to a number of antelope species, zebra, and giraffe. Elephants cross the Zambezi and freely walk through the park and the surrounding area.
Wildlife is abundant, and game viewing is excellent – whether on a game drive, or from a canoe – even if not all species are represented (notably the giraffe, and rhino). Game generally congregates on the valley floor, and along the River and its tributaries. Visitors frequently see herds of upwards of 100 elephant, with buffalo and waterbuck being common sightings. There is also a good population of lion and leopard in the park. In the river there are hippo and crocodiles, and the Park is also home to an excellent diversity of birds.
South Luangwa has also made its name as THE Park in which to experience a walking safari – surely the best way to experience the bush, and wildlife. Guiding and safety are of an exceptionally high standard.
Part of the Park’s attraction also lies in the woodland and forests, with more common trees including mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, some beautiful specimens of baobab, large ebony forests, vegetable ivory palm, marula and the magnificent tamarind tree.
There are pronounced seasonal changes in the Park – with the dry months generally being April to October (which is also the hottest month). The rains begin in November, and last to March – the best time to see the migratory birds. The Lodges stay open as long as possible, as there are some closures due to accessibility.
Proclaimed in 1950, Kafue is Zambia�s oldest National Park and, additionally, it is the largest at some 22 400 kilometres square.
In addition, the Kafue and Lunga Rivers offer excellent fishing opportunities, and are particularly good for bream, barbel and fresh water pike. Most lodges have fishing tackle, rods, boats and bait available.
To the south, the Kafue runs into the Itezhi Tezhi Dam (which covers 370 square kilometres). This vast area is surrounded in part by grassy plains, and home to numerous hippos. There are also rocky bays and stretches of submerged tree which provide perches for the many water birds inhabiting the area, such as fish eagle, cormorant, spoonbill and goliath heron. The dam also attracts elephant, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest.
The park is also home to innumerable knobbly termite mounds scattered across the plains, which contrasts with the teak forests, large numbers of the striking �candelabra� tree, and the many large black boulders. Much of the park is covered by �Miombo� Woodland (forests made up of a select group of tree species, mainly Brachystegia).
Founded in 1905, and named for the explorer, David Livingstone, the town is arguably now the adventure capital of Southern Africa, although there is still the undeniable attraction of the waterfall itself – Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) – Victoria Falls. Spray from the falls can be seen from kilometres away, as and estimated 546 million cubic metres of water per minute cascade (in peak flood season) down 100 metres, over the 1.7 kilometre edge. The River then disappears into a dramatic series of gorges. Although the peak flood is during March and April, the Falls can still be spectacular, although November and December are the lowest water levels.
There are a number of activities on offer, from the wildest one day white water rafting in the world, canoeing above the Falls, horseback trails and game drives in the adjacent National Park, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge, abseiling in the gorge, tandem kayaking, micro light and helicopter flights, jet boats, elephant back safaris, and fishing.
If you want to take things a little easier, there is the Livingstone Museum – Zambia’s biggest and oldest museum, which includes a good deal of Livingstone memorabilia. There is also a small Railway Museum, which has a collection of steam locomotives and vintage coaches. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, or indulge in a round of golf at the Royal Golf Club, which boasts an 18 hole course.
Lower Zambezi National Park
Of Zambia’s 19 National Parks, the Lower Zambezi is the newest, and already boasts a good number of privately run Lodges in the Park, and in the neighbouring Game Management Areas, most notably the Chiawa Area. The Park itself is some 4 092 kilometres square, making it the fourth largest in the country. With the boundaries including the Zambezi River – including its floodplain – and part of the Zambezi Escarpment (rising to some 1 200 metres above sea level), the park is diverse in terms of vegetation, and topography.
The River’s edge is home to diospyros and ficus species, and inland there are Mopane forests and Winterthorn trees. As part of the Lower Zambezi National Park lies opposite Zimbabwe’s well known Mana Pools National Park, there is an extensive conservation area.
South Luangwa National Park
At 9 050 kilometres square, the South Luangwa is the second largest of Zambia’s National Parks, and boasts diverse habitats, including open grasslands, Mopane forests, and riverine woodlands. This is home to an incredible density of wildlife, which places the South Luangwa in the ranks of the not-to-be-missed game areas. The western border of the Park is the Muchinja escarpment, and the eastern the Luangwa River itself.
There is an excellent diversity of mammals and birds – there are some 14 antelope species alone, and over 400 species of birds. The River is home to huge populations of hippo and crocodile. The Park is also home to the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, and Cookson’s wildebeest. In terms of predators, lion is abundant, as are leopard (although less easy to find), and there is a good population of wild dog. Visitors will also have the chance to see good herds of elephant and buffalo.
Kafue National Park
Kafue covers a diverse landscape, from the extensive Busanga Plains in the North, to the more forested south. The park is fed by the Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers, and is thus able to sustain large herds, and a good diversity of species � including lechwe, puku, sable and roan antelope. Predators are also well represented, with good populations of lion, leopard and cheetah, along with smaller species such as side-striped jackal, civet, genet and a variety of mongoose. As over 400 bird species have been identifying, enthusiasts are in for an excellent time, and have the chance to see wattled crane, and Pel�s fishing owl.
The Busanga Plains are an important wetland area, and are subjective to a seasonal, annual flood � with some 750 square kilometres being affected. This flooding is at peak from March to May, and drainage is into the Lufupa River.
The best time for wildlife sightings is generally in the dry season from April to October, but the Park is at its most beautiful after the rains, in the first part of the year – however many roads are impassable from November to April.