Exclusive Big-Game Zambia Safari

A 10 day trip to Zambia 
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Zambia is not a country that you will visit, rather it is a country that you will explore. Tucked away from the tourist trail, Zambia is home to some of Africa’s finest safari destinations and will lead you on an immersive journey to the heart of the continent. This itinerary will celebrate three flagship destinations and explore Zambia from all of its eclectic angles. Track rhinos on foot, follow big cats on nighttime drives, cruise past hippos, soar above Victoria Falls and feel your sense of adventure. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

South Luangwa National Park, Luangwa Valley, Luangwa River, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambezi River, Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Mosi Oa Tunya National Park

Departure Dates 

Departure dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Livingstone to South Luangwa – Settle into Zambia’s Flagship Safari Destination

South Luangwa epitomizes the allure of Africa. Antelopes roam the plains, vibrant colors merge along the horizon, the sense of space is absolute, and every exotic angle seems to beckon you forward. Simply flying in is a unique travel memory as your plane will swoop over the deep canyons of the Great Rift Valley to touch down on a runway that is tucked away in the park. Your international flight will land in Livingstone, and a representative will assist you in transferring you to your domestic flight bound for Zambia’s flagship safari destination. Touch down, and you will soon be reveling in the authenticity of the continent.

A guide will greet you at the airstrip, and all activities will be privately guided. Your game drive transfer to the lodge will bring an introduction to the landscape and lead you through the riverine forests and onwards to a lodge on the Luangwa River. This meandering waterway is the epicenter of the park, and most animals stay within a day’s walk of its goodness. Gaze down from your suite, and the big-game encounters continue throughout the late afternoon and into the evening. While it may have been a long journey to get to Zambia, your time spent relaxing along the river will be more than enough to convince you that it was worth it.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer, domestic flight, dinner 

Day 2: South Luangwa – Game Drives Across the Resplendent Wilderness

Game drives bring surprise in South Luangwa as the reality of safari becomes your own. Zebra congregates in large herds but looks different to the photos as they are the endemic Crawshay’s zebra, with distinctive stripes that blur together into one black and white mass of animals. Lions bask in the open, leaving one eye open and returning your stare. Wildebeest gallop with fabulous enthusiasm, making the buffalo and elephant seem lazy in comparison. Drive around another corner, and three jackals may be battling over a discarded impala limb. Keep going, and there is likely to be a battle raging between three young lions and a snarling cackle of hyenas. South Luangwa immediately pulls you into the magic of an African safari and every game drive will reveal something different.

Over the following days, you can create your own safari program. Sunrise is when many of the animals are at their most active, bringing scenes of drama in the woodland and on the plains. Game drive for a couple of hours and then return for brunch, or take a picnic and stay out for the whole day to explore the outer reaches of the park. Choose to loop around the unique photography hides, where you can discover elusive animals from a thrilling perspective. Or follow the river as your guide will leave you to where the big cats lay in ambush. Walking safaris and nighttime drives can be incorporated whenever you like and showcase the landscapes from a very different perspective. The guides will offer ideas and you can just sit back and let them build the dreamy South Luangwa itinerary, or you can narrate your dream safari day and have it happen.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: South Luangwa – Intimate Walking Safari and Thrilling Nighttime Game Drive

Across Africa, many private conservancies or concessions offer walking safaris and nighttime game drives. South Luangwa is relatively unique in that it is a national park with the same diverse offering, yet it is far bigger than any private conservancy and provides an unrivaled scope of where to go. With an armed ranger and local tracker, you can walk slowly and follow the prints in the dirt as you come to within meters of the antelopes and ungulates. Gaze into a zebra’s eyes, and then jump back as he flashes his teeth. Stay rooted to the spot as impala skip all around you and stand transfixed as you come across a tower of giraffe, their vibrant markings glowing high above your head. As on your game drives, you could explore for just 30 minutes on a short journey around the lodge, or you could spend the whole day on foot for a journey deep into the wild bush.

Nighttime game drives are recommended on a daily basis as when the sun sets, the landscape comes alive as animals journey into the cooler air of the evening. Game drives can stay out after dark, or you can enjoy dinner before disappearing into the gloom with just a high-powered spotlight to unveil what congregates by the river. Different animals are on the move, like mongoose and caracal that emerge from their hiding places. Big cats thrive as their visibility keeps everyone else on high alert. Elephants struggle to see and you will witness some tense scenes as their anxiety takes over. With such readily available nighttime drives, a safari in South Luangwa will feel as though you have access to two completely different destinations. Having several days to explore it all is recommended to bring the most from this outstanding national park.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: South Luangwa – Flexible Day to Explore South Luangwa’s Endemic Residents

Complete your time spent in South Luangwa with a final day of privately guided activities. While it is lions and leopards that most hold visitors captive, this park is not just about the most famous animals. Seek out three endemic species with the Crawshay’s zebra, the Thornicroft giraffe, and the unusual Cookson’s wildebeest. Lose yourself in a world of tropical birds as so many colorful wings swoop past your lodge. Snap wildlife portraits from the hides, journey through the park’s nuances, and keep following the dramatic battles between predators. Best of all, in a park of this size, it is not common to encounter other vehicles and visitors, especially when you travel away from the main Mfuwe Gate. So the ambiance is more akin to being in a private concession, increasing the feeling of exclusivity.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Lower Zambezi National Park – Big-Game Safari Along the Zambezi River

Direct flights link South Luangwa with Lower Zambezi National Park, the country’s other premium big game destination. Once the private playground for a Zambian president, the park is now a UNESCO World Heritage site that dazzles with diversity. Monitor lizards crawl by, eland and bushbuck meet on the plains while lionesses chase meaty waterbuck. Duiker skips past as elephants grace the horizon, and then an eagle will drag your attention from a spotted hyena. From May to September, the park’s wildlife is incredibly easy to spot. Waterholes shrivel and everything flocks around the banks of the Lower Zambezi River, where your camp has the perfect vantage point.

Your time on safari remains exclusive and privately guided, so the choice of activity is yours. Go on a walking safari with an armed ranger, traverse the grasslands of buffalo and elephant. Game drive along the banks to spot a cheetah setting an ambush, or get close enough to see a lion’s belly rise and fall with every breath. Late afternoon is an idyllic time for a boat safari along the river that will feel calm and relaxing until you turn a corner and a dozen hippos are squabbling. You will drift on the current, the ideal way to explore one of Africa’s finest wetlands. Animals are not just grazing and walking, they are also swimming. You will see wildebeest charging across the river, elephants using their trunks as snorkels, and hippos disappearing for ten minutes, before reappearing with a resounding huff.

What’s Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Lower Zambezi National Park – Game Drives and Boat Safaris in a World Heritage Site

Everything will feel still at dawn as just a few wisps of mist will rise above the mahogany trees, but the silence brings a sense of mounting tension. The bushbuck have stopped grazing, their ears on high alert. The engine has been cut and you will scan the grass, but see nothing. You will consider that it is time to move on, but your guide will encourage you to wait. Minutes will tick by and just as your patience is about to run out the silence will break. Lionesses jump from their hiding place, accelerating the ten short steps towards the antelope. Baboons shout and storks squeal, alerting everything to the pride’s presence. Bushbuck scatters, the sound of rolling hooves thudding across the landscape. The animals are up to speed quickly and you will lament that it is not your day as the unsuccessful hunt unfolds before you.

But keep watching, because the bushbuck have run into an ambush, practically galloping into the rest of the hidden pride. Two jaws clamp onto a neck, the lions almost surfing on the antelope’s powerful back, waiting for the moment that its front legs give way. It is all over in less than a minute, and your guide will bring you closer, just in time for the alpha male to rip into the bushbuck’s insides. Now you watch mealtime as the young males are chased away, left to the scraps after the big male and lionesses have enjoyed their fill. Scenes like this are what make an African safari so special. In South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks, these are the types of scenes that are for your eyes only. With their limited visitors, a safari here provides an exclusivity to complement the big game drama.

What’s Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner  

Day 7: Livingstone – Fly Over the Zambezi and Walk With Rhinos

Your journey to Livingstone will follow the curve of the Zambezi River, one of Africa’s greatest waterways that shimmer beneath the wingtips of your plane before you touch down beside Victoria Falls. From the airport, you will transfer straight to Mosi Au Tunya National Park, where the midday heat is best for rhino tracking. At this time, the majestic giants are resting, so you can creep up on foot until you are barely more than 20 meters from their remarkable frames. Admire the graceful horns, listen to the hiss of each breath, and shake your head at the intimacy of the experience. You will be guided by armed rangers that guard the rhinos around the clock, a novel and effective way of keeping away poachers.

From here, you will transfer to a lodge on the Zambezi River for an afternoon at your leisure. Look forward to a sunset river cruise with canapes and cocktails served as the orange sun begins to disappear from the sky. Hippos emerge at this time, and you will see many of them out of the water. Crocodiles lounge on the banks and then sink stealthily beneath the surface. Disembark your boat after sundown to enjoy dinner at your leisure before settling in to drift off to the songs of nature.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner  

Day 8: Livingstone – The Majestic Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is always heard before it can be seen as an unmistakable growl echoes across the land, growing steadily louder as you head into the park and take a walking trail that leads to the world wonder. It is only at the very last moment that the falls are revealed as the trees suddenly open to showcase nature at its most powerful. Spray rises out of the canyon to create rainbows when it catches the sunlight. Follow the trail across narrow bridges, and you will be immersed in the enormity of what the locals call Mosi Au Tunya (translated as “the smoke that thunders”). Return from the trail, and you will get the best views of these falls from a helicopter, the aerial vantage point able to aptly showcase the scale of this remarkable wonder. Over a mile wide and over 100 meters deep, this spectacle hardly seems real from the air.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner 

Day 9: Livingstone – Free Day of Adventure in Nature’s Paradise

This last day is deliberately left free as the adventure in Livingstone can lead you in many directions. After your days of exploring, today might be all about sitting back and soaking up the charms of the river. Perhaps you will want to read on the balcony, looking up as the vervet monkeys or baboons swing past. Or you could go kayaking past the hippos, do a bungee jump in no man’s land, spend the day in neighboring Zimbabwe, or explore the colonial relics of Livingstone town. Like yesterday, and the day before, the sunset river cruise provides an air of tranquility after the exploration.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner 

Day 10: Livingstone – Departure from Zambia

Livingstone International Airport has established itself as a gateway to Zambia, meaning travelers no longer need to fly via capital city Lusaka. There are various direct flights to Europe and the Middle East, along with connections for onward travel across Southern and East Africa. You will be able to use all of the lodge’s facilities until your departure, with the airport just a short journey away.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast 

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!