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Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park
Lower Zambezi National Park

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The Zambezi River, Zamiba left - Zimbabwe right

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Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park: in detail

Lower Zambezi safari holidays: the full story

The Lower Zambezi valley is a huge rift in the earth's crust, through which a mighty river flows. Over millennia, mineral-rich volcanic soils deposited by the Zambezi have nurtured lush vegetation, while old meanders and oxbow lakes add to the attraction for wildlife.

There are national parks on both sides of the river – Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean bank, and the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side. The landscape is beautiful: tall leadwoods, ebonies, acacias and figs stand on a carpet of rich grassland. But the main attraction is the area's game, which congregates near the river during the dry season.

Safaris to the Lower Zambezi

Most visitors to the Lower Zambezi fly in by light aircraft to one of the valley’s small airstrips, and stay at one or two of the safari camps or lodges along the river. Although it is possible to drive into the valley, or even to drive part of the way and finish your journey by boat, arriving by air is the most efficient way to maximise your time within the park.

Flights can be organised from Lusaka, Livingstone or South Luangwa’s Mfuwe Airport, making a Lower Zambezi safari easy to combine with time in the South Luangwa National Park or a trip to Victoria Falls. On arrival you will be met by someone from your safari lodge, and transferred by 4WD, taking in any game that you see along the way. Back at the camp, you will be welcomed by the team with some time to settle in, before heading out on an activity such as a safari walk or drive.

Lower Zambezi safari camps and lodges

At Expert Africa, we concentrate on the safari camps that are within, or beside, the Lower Zambezi National Park itself – as we believe that these offer the best game and safari experience. All are located in natural bush along the river, with game regularly roaming through camp. Safari camps in the Lower Zambezi are widely spaced, so you won’t see many, if any, other vehicles during a game drive.

Although the safari camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park differ in style, from sophisticated safari lodges to the simplest of bush camps, you can expect personal service that is up there with the best. Guiding is generally excellent, with all guides trained to the high standards set by the Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust.

Several of the camps in the valley, such as Chiawa Camp, Chongwe River Camp, Sausage Tree and Old Mondoro, are independently owned and run, and receive consistently high reports from our travellers. There are also a couple of safari houses, which are great options for small groups or families travelling together.

Activities on a Lower Zambezi safari

Visitors to the Lower Zambezi National Park, with its location on the wide Zambezi River, can usually choose from an exceptional range of activities. Most Lower Zambezi safari lodges offer two activities a day, one in the early morning, the second in late afternoon – with plenty of time for a leisurely lunch and a siesta between the two.

Game drives in open-topped 4WD vehicles are a regular fixture in all camps, but most also offer the option of a walking safari with a qualified guide and armed ranger. On the water, there are boat trips to explore the Zambezi, keeping an eye out for hippos, crocodile and an impressive array of birds. The more intrepid might prefer to take to the waters in a canoe, while anglers won’t want to miss the opportunity to seek out the mighty tigerfish (though note that all fishing here is on a catch-and-release basis).

Flora and fauna of Lower Zambezi National Park

Like the nearby South Luangwa National Park, the Lower Zambezi protects a slice of a huge rift valley which, geologically, is related to East Africa's Great Rift Valley. In fact, most of the park consists of the hilly higher ground on the sides and top of the escarpment – where the bush consists mainly of thick, broad-leafed miombo woodland. However, with little water here the dry season sees the game concentrate on the flat alluvial plain, beside the deep, wide, permanent Zambezi River.

Here the vegetation is very different: rich soils nurture tall, strong trees typical of riverine areas, including ebonies, leadwoods and fig trees. Winterthorn woodlands – where the apple-ring fruits are so popular with hungry elephants – seem to stretch endlessly along the river. The beauty of these areas is that bush growth under the trees is usually sparse or even absent; this allows unobscured views of game, and makes a great environment for walking safaris.

Animals in the Lower Zambezi National Park

The Lower Zambezi has strong populations of big game. Buffalo and elephant are common, and move freely between Zimbabwe and Zambia, often grazing on the islands in the middle of the river. The Lower Zambezi's antelope species are dominated by large herds of impala, but there are also good populations of kudu, eland, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck and the odd duiker or grysbok. Giraffe are completely absent (there is no record of them ever having lived here) as are cheetah and black rhino – the latter due to poaching.

In the river, crocodile and hippo are always present, but look also for the large water monitor lizard, which occurs frequently here.

The major predators in the Lower Zambezi are lion, leopard and spotted hyena – and in our experience it's an excellent park for game viewing. The varied terrain (with many large trees) seems to suit leopards, whilst the large herds of buffalo attract large prides of lion. Wild dogs occur, and generally also den in or near the park, although sightings tend to be sporadic.

Birdlife of the Lower Zambezi National Park

The park’s birdlife is rich – 378 species have been recorded here, including many species of eagle, heron, stork and bee-eater. Just considering the kingfishers, you'll find pied, giant, woodland, malachite and brown-hooded kingfishers are all common here. Similarly, the river is frequented by darters, cormorants, egrets and storks, and fish eagles are often seen perching in trees that overlook the water. The Lower Zambezi is rich in wading birds, both resident and migrant; uncommon residents include ospreys, spoonbills and African skimmers.

Where to stay in Lower Zambezi

Our suggestions for safari camps in Lower Zambezi National Park


Chongwe River Camp

Chongwe River Camp

A blend of the stylish and traditional in a most picturesque site in the Zambezi Valley, Chongwe River Camp offers an excellent safari experience and real value for money.


96% (116 reviews)
Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp

For an intimate safari in the Lower Zambezi, with superb guiding, Old Mondoro is up there with the best.


99% (103 reviews)
Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp

One of Zambia's top safari camps, Chiawa is family owned and run, offering superb service and a flexible approach from a location well inside the Lower Zambezi National Park.


98% (73 reviews)
Sausage Tree Camp

Sausage Tree Camp

Sausage Tree is a high-quality safari camp of unique design offering excellent personal service deep inside Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park.


97% (33 reviews)
Potato Bush Camp

Potato Bush Camp

Potato Bush is located right in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park, with privately guided activities taking you on game drives, walks, boat trips and canoeing.


98% (11 reviews)
Amanzi

Amanzi

Opened in 2015, Amanzi is an intimate and rustic yet luxury camp in a very quiet area of the Lower Zambezi, with plenty of wildlife and good birding.


96% (10 reviews)
Chongwe River House

Chongwe River House

Chongwe River House is a stylish four-bedroom house designed for the exclusive use of families and small groups, affording the ultimate in flexibility on safari.


100% (8 reviews)
Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp

Anabezi Luxury Camp

Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp offers a high degree of understated luxury in a very lovely, quiet part of the Lower Zambezi with outstanding wildlife.


100% (8 reviews)
Tsika Island Camp

Tsika Island Camp

Tsika Island Camp is a remote bushcamp in the middle of the Zambezi, with links to the local village of Mgugrumenu.


97% (7 reviews)
Kasaka River Lodge

Kasaka River Lodge

Kasaka River Lodge is a relatively simple, family-friendly camp. It's outside the Lower Zambezi National Park and, with a recent change of ownership for the better, it offers a great-value safari destination.


93% (6 reviews)
Kutali Camp

Kutali Camp

Kutali Fly-Camp offers the opportunity to experience the wilderness of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, in this simple fly-camp located on Kulefu Island.


100% (3 reviews)
Chula Island Camp

Chula Island Camp

Chula Island Camp offers the opportunity to experience the wilderness of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, in this simple fly-camp located in a natal mahogany grove on a small island on the Zambezi River.


No reviews yet
Tafara Springs Bushcamp

Tafara Springs

Tarafa Springs offers the opportunity to experience the wilderness of the Lower Zambezi National Park, in this rustic bushcamp located next to the main Zambezi escarpment.


No reviews yet

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Lower Zambezi

This is their success for sightings in Lower Zambezi National Park.
Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.


Elephant

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Buffalo

94% success

Lion

88% success

Leopard

82% success

Spotted Hyena

74% success

Zebra

60% success

Aardvark

19% success

Wild dog

4% success

Eland

2% success

Sable antelope

2% success

Cheetah

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

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