The great British explorer and professional hunter, Frederick Courtenay Selous, wrote about his travels up the Zambezi, “As I travel north on the western floodplain of this great vein of water, I feel sure this must be the lifeblood of southern Africa and its most powerful water mass.”
Zambia has slowly awakened as a tourist attraction centre in the immediate area of the Victoria Falls nearby Livingstone. The country is well-known for its impressive waterfalls, vast floodplains, mighty rivers and protected wilderness areas attracting a great variety of African wildlife.
The Zambezi is the main river – a source of living for thousands of Zambians and a magnet for adventure seekers. White-water rafting, river boarding, jet boating and kayaking are but some of the adventure activities offered on the Zambezi while game viewing safaris are a great way to observe the wildlife residing around the river.
The spectacular curtains of water known as the Victoria Falls or “Mosi-oa-Tunya’’ (the Smoke that Thunders) are over 1.6 km (1 mi) wide with an average of just over 100 m (328 ft) in height (roughly twice the height of the Niagara Falls), making it one of the world’s greatest waterfalls. David Livingstone, Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European recorded to view the Victoria Falls – which he did from what is now known as “Livingstone Island” in Zambia, the only land accessible in the middle of the Falls.
The Zambezi basin above the Falls experience a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season the rest of the year. The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April. The spray from the Falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 50 km (30 mi) away. At full moon, a “moonbow” can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow. During the flood season, however, it is impossible to see the foot of the Falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Close to the edge of the cliff, spray shoots upward like inverted rain.
A famous feature is a naturally formed pool known as the Devil’s Pool, near the edge of the Falls, accessed via Livingstone Island. When the river flow is at a safe level, usually September to December, it is possible to swim close to the edge of the Falls within the pool. This is possible due to a natural rock wall just below the water and at the very edge of the Falls that stop their progress despite the current.
The city of Livingstone is a great base from which to visit the Vic Falls and enjoy activities around the Zambezi River. An excellent local market and restaurants in town serving traditional Zambian food add an authentic cultural experience.
A short tour to Livingstone & the Vic Falls (2 or 3 days) can easily be added to any safari trip within Zambia such as Lower Zambezi National Park, North and South Luangwa, Kafue Flats as well as Chobe National Park in Botswana and north-eastern Namibia.
Many clients choose to do a self-drive tour in Botswana, ending their trip at the Vic Falls and flying out from Livingstone. This can easily be arranged by leaving your vehicle in Botswana and have our trusted partners in Zambia assist in your border crossing, transfers and activities once in Zambia.
Another great Zambian destination is Lake Kariba, nestled between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is the largest man-made lake and dam by volume and is known worldwide as a fishing paradise with tiger fish being its most sought-after catch. Lake Kariba often gets overlooked by tourists, but those who visit fall in love with its spectacular views and sunsets. Apart from fishing, other activities worth considering are game viewing and live-abroad houseboat experiences.
Further afield, for the more independent and adventurous self-driver, vast wilderness national parks await. Lusaka, Zambian’s capital, or Livingstone are great basis from which to embark on epic self-drive safaris into the Lower Zambezi National Park, North – and South Luangwa and the Kafue National Park (Wetland)
Zambia’s elevation on a plateau gives it a moderate climate, despite the fact that it lies within tropical latitudes. There are three seasons: warm and wet from December to April, cool and dry from May to August and hot and dry from September to November. Only in the wet season is there noticeable humidity and in the river valleys very hot in the month of October.
Some of the great activities and excursions to be done in Zambia include:
- White Water Rafting – 23 Wild Zambezi rapids below the Victoria Falls. The Zambezi White Water Rafting is regarded as the most exciting rafting in Africa and possibly the world!
- Flights over Vic Falls – Take a Microlight, helicopter of fixed wing plane for the most spectacular views over the Falls and the deep Batoka Gorge.
- Riverboarding – Surf the Zambezi rapids on marvellous standing waves.
- Bungy Jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge and feel the spray of water on your face while jumping into a gorge.
- Abseiling & Gorge Swinging up the gorges of Victoria Falls and Zambezi River – fantastic fun and completely safe for the whole family.
- Kayaking: An experienced kayaker will take you through the raging rapids of the Zambezi.
- Game viewing safaris along the Zambezi River.
- Houseboating excursions on Lake Kariba.
- Walking Safaris with an experienced guide in the surrounding Game Reserves.
- Livingstone Island Tour including Devil’s Pool (Dry months only) and High Tea.
- Fly fishing & Tiger fishing – some of the best fresh water fishing is available in Zambia and on the Zambezi River.
- Horse Back Trails along the Zambezi River or in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
- Quad-biking – Explore the amazing geographical formations of this area on a quad bike.
- Golf – Set in a veritable botanical garden with over 118 tree species, an 18-hole course provide a unique African golfing experience.
- Birding Safaris – Zambia has 740 bird species and offers superb safaris to see them.
- Photographic Safaris- Excellent photo opportunities with small groups.
- Safari Game Drives: Guided game viewing in open safari vehicles.