Immersive Zambia: Africa’s Most Complete Safari Experience

A 9 day trip to Zambia 
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Zambia’s most mesmerizing appeal comes from the diversity of safari perspectives. Horseback ride with giraffe and rhinos, savor Africa’s premier walking safari, and watch animals quarrel on the river banks from a motorboat and a canoe. Game drives go off the trail and continue into the night, helicopters take you above Victoria Falls, and light aircraft connects the various parks that are teeming with an abundant cast of wildlife. Welcome to the big-game wilderness, where every activity offers a completely new experience. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Livingstone, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, South Luangwa National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Livingstone – Introduced to Africa with a Helicopter Ride above Victoria Falls and a Walk across Knife-Edge Bridge

A rainbow of hues stretches out from the Zambezi River. A kaleidoscope of colors is represented in the dense green of the woodland, the lush emerald of the open grasslands, the yellows and oranges created by the sun’s reflection, and the intense blue of the Zambezi River. Follow these colors from the helicopter window, then focus on the blue, and how it slices through the wild, bulges until it’s over a mile in width, then disappears into a 108-meter deep canyon. The water rises as spray, where it’s common to see 360-degree rainbows reaching out from the cascade. This is Victoria Falls, where more water tips over the edge than anywhere else in the world. And it is a perfect introduction to Africa, a helicopter giving you the best angle on the aesthetics of both the falls and its astonishing surroundings.

Today, you land in Livingstone, where it is a short transfer to a lodge on the Zambezi River. Take a relaxed lunch and watch the odd hippo in the water below, and a troop of baboons jumping past the lodge. After the helicopter tour, you continue the adventure by following a walking trail that runs parallel to the falls. Cross Knife-Edge Bridge to find the cataracts in the Zambezi where there is a break in the spray, and capture some close-up photos of the falls. After returning to the trailhead, you can walk a different route, descending to the river beneath the falls, a nice place to relax for an hour or so. You are then transferred back to the lodge for a quiet evening where it is hard to miss the hippos emerging from the water.

You may wish to read some of our travelers' Zambia safari tour reviews to learn more about this exciting trip.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour, dinner

Day 2: Livingstone – Horseback Safari with Rhinos and Giraffe in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park

Your horse walks slowly as the sun peeks above the trees. Three southern giraffes are on the plains, their markings almost blending into the dusty landscape. A handful of zebras wander past, sable antelopes can be seen in the distance, and it is not long before you see a herd of impala skipping across the short grass. The horses are responsive and forward-moving, and different rides are available dependent on your ability. Beginners can ride here; although the horses will not move faster than walking speed, it is still a great way to see animals from up close. Experienced riders can canter and gallop on the plains of Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park, kicking up dust as your horse keeps up with the herds.

On a horseback safari, you are just another mammal, so the wildlife doesn’t run away. It stops and stares at you with a look of curiosity as you join the ungulates, riding close to steenbok, waterbuck, puku, and wildebeest. You can also get wonderfully close to some of the giants since, other than spotted hyenas, there are not any predators in the park. There are big and potentially dangerous mammals, but with expert guides, you can cross open plains where elephants roam. There is an opportunity to creep close to white rhinos who are resting, discovering that the quiet time in the early afternoon is the best for this encounter. After the day’s horseback safari, there are a few quiet hours back at the lodge before a sunset cruise on the Zambezi.

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

Day 3: South Luangwa National Park – Following the Predators on a Full-Day Game Drive

Today you fly north, following the Great Rift Valley into the north of the country. South Luangwa is hundreds of miles from anywhere, a stretch of woodland and savannah that has become one of Africa’s greatest safari destinations. The experience starts with a full-day game drive, first exploring the central plains, following the tracks left behind by elephants and buffalos. Lions are sometimes found basking in the sun, or lounging beneath a stand of ebony trees, lazy in the midday heat. As the sun beats down you, you also stop beneath the ebonies, enjoying a relaxed picnic with views across the savannah. Sit back in the camping chairs and watch the migratory movements of nomads from above.

The drive continues into the afternoon, loosely following the Luangwa River, the lifeblood of the park. Eland and kudu canter along, reedbuck and duiker cluster in large numbers, and you are never far from elephants. Soon you spot the park’s three endemic species: Thornicroft’s giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra, and the enthusiastic Cookson’s wildebeest. As the afternoon light fades, you start seeing the predators on the move, lions and leopards joining the hyena that prowl just before dusk. The drive continues until nightfall and drops you at a bush camp deep in the park, where the safari experience does not end. Sit back on your private veranda, and you are likely to see and hear a huge array of animals. After dinner, there is an option to head out on a nighttime game drive.

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

Day 4: South Luangwa National Park – Africa’s Original Walking Safari

Elephants smash rugged pathways through mopane woodland, and giraffes and buffalos wander across the trails. Yellow baboons and vervet monkeys shout out as Crawshay’s zebra gather on open stretches of savannah. It is the same animals and same habitat as yesterday, but it feels like a completely different park when you are on a walking safari. The animals are bigger and brighter, with many of the ungulates seen from a closer proximity. The trails are different, taking you into areas that are completely inaccessible to vehicles. The atmosphere excites all the senses, so much to hear and smell, and so many subtle changes to admire.

South Luangwa was the first national park in Africa to operate walking safaris, and it is still the best, with so much of the land kept clear of vehicles, and such intimate knowledge shared by the guides. You will learn how to track animals, identifying their spoor through the obvious and lesser-known clues. Guides will crumble dung in their hands, ascertaining not just the species, but the age, sex, and health of the animal responsible. By slowly understanding the wild, you develop a deeper bond with it, picking up on so much that is easily missed on a game drive. You will spend the whole day on a walking safari, the expedition completed by a two-hour picnic beneath a grove of mahogany trees, a time to rest and relax before continuing your walk through wild Africa.

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

Day 5: South Luangwa National Park – A Flexible Day and a Nighttime Game Drive

On this third day in South Luangwa, you create your own program, filling the day with game drives and walks. There is the chance to search for particular animals that you have yet to see, perhaps choosing to go deep into a leopard’s lair where you might find a spotted cat draped across the branches. Choose morning and afternoon activities, then continue the immersion with a nighttime game drive, the guide illuminating wildlife with a powerful spotlight. Nighttime is when the predators really prowl, not just the famous big cats, but strange species like aardwolves and bat-eared foxes. You travel slowly, inching through the landscape, scanning the plains for signs of life. When the vehicle stops, you absorb the tense atmosphere, your senses slowly tuning into the shadows. The light is cut and every sound is picked up. You can sense that something is grazing nearby, but cannot imagine what it might be. Then the guide shines a light over the plains, and you discover just how close the buffalo have been all along.

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

Day 6: Lower Zambezi National Park – The Beauty of Safari from the Water

Zebras drink from the water’s edge, a pristine line of black and white stripes backdropped by mokolwane palms. Elephants arrive, two calves pushing their way into the water for a quick swimming lesson. Up ahead, you find a herd of buffalos cooling off with their snouts poking above the water. In a safari vehicle, you would see all this from an elevated vantage point, but with a water-based safari you are looking up at the wildlife, appreciating the true size and power of these remarkable animals. Trunks swing above your eyes, herds splash across the shallows, and you gaze towards many yawning hippos.

After the light aircraft flight to Lower Zambezi, you spend the day exploring the two different styles of water-based safari. First head out in a motorboat, a vessel that can cover large distances to bring the best of river-based big-game viewing. You traverse the Zambezi, stopping beside the collections of wildlife, perhaps spotting a lion pride basking on the muddy banks. In a canoe, you move silently, propelled along by the occasional sweep of the paddle. This activity takes you into the maze-like channels and turquoise lagoons, places that are inaccessible by any other means. The wildlife is incredibly close as it does not hear or see you coming, every corner turned is likely to bring a moment of intimacy. Although they do not cover as much distance, these unique canoe safaris really feel like an expedition undertaken by the old explorers.

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

Days 7 – 8: Lower Zambezi National Park – Connecting the Angles: Flexible Two Days of Big-Game Safari

This park is a classic wetland paradise, islands of palms dotted amongst lagoons and floodplains. Water dominates all year around, making the area a migration destination for a wide range of wildlife. Buffalos and elephants sometimes swim here, crossing the Zambezi from Mana Pools National Park, the other half of this World Heritage Site. Water enables a variety of habitats to form: riverine forest, grasslands, mopane woodland, peculiar palms, and deciduous trees. In turn, this attracts a real diversity of wildlife, and the experience in this park is all about the contrasts between what you see.

Baboons and monkeys cry out, warning antelope of a lioness lurking in the bushland. Strange antelopes show unique ways to pick fruit from the trees, and giraffes roam, feasting from the canopies. Open grasslands are flooded with impala and red lechwe, bringing enchantment when you set off on walking safari. Game drives follow elephants and predators, while the water-based safaris provide you a change of perspective. Over these two days, the program is completely customized. You have tried all the safari activities by now and will know which you most enjoy. Each evening, you sit with the guide and plan out the next day, incorporating your pick of land and water-based activities. It is the classic way to complete a safari experience that delights in its diversity.

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

Day 9: Lower Zambezi National Park to Livingstone – Aerial Safari and Departure

A final angle, the spectacular vistas of Zambia from the air, as the light aircraft completes your adventure. Like the other local flights, the small plane offers uninterrupted views onto landscapes that swirl with color. Particularly after canoe and walking safaris, these views offer a mesmerizing insight into the scale of what you have just been exploring. Upon landing in Livingstone, you will transfer onto your international departure.

What’s Included: airport transfer, domestic flight, 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!