Thrills on the Zambezi: A Safari to Zambia’s Adventure Capital

A 10 day trip to Zambia 
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The Zambezi River is Southern Africa’s adventure capital as big game adds new drama to nature’s escapades. Walk with rhinos, camp with elephants, kayak past hippos, bungee jump next to Victoria Falls, and enjoy days full of exciting safari activities. Tailored for the intrepid traveler, this 10-day safari features the best of everything that gives the Zambezi its reputation. Think big cats, exhilarating activity and pure adrenalin followed by memorable evenings where you settle into African hospitality and comfort. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Zambezi River, Livingstone, Mosi Au Tunya National Park, Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, Chobe River, Lower Zambezi National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Livingstone – Sunset Cruise Along the Zambezi

The Zambezi River is one of Africa’s great waterways. In places, the river flows languidly, slow enough for wildebeest and buffalo to swim across. In other spots, the water gushes with drama as it picks up speed and sends up flumes of spray and white water. Your lodge is situated on an island in the river, gazing out towards wading hippos while flanked by roaring rapids. Today you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to this secluded island, where your daily sunset cruise will help you settle into the river’s charm. Hippos emerge from the water, crocodiles bathe on the banks, drinks and canapes are served, and the glowing African sun burns orange as it dips onto the horizon.

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

Day 2: Livingstone – Helicopter Above Victoria Falls and Bungee Jump in No Man’s Land

As the water picks up speed, it disappears to plunge over a mile-wide precipice with 1.5 million liters of water gushing over every single second. This is Victoria Falls, a spectacle that is on an astonishing scale. In the morning, you can helicopter above the falls to admire the colors that blur on the landscape below. While your helicopter flight will be all about the dreamy aesthetics, the walking trails provide an entirely different angle as you pass the raucous baboon troops and cross narrow bridges to reach cataracts in the Lower Zambezi. Spray rises high out of the canyon and then tumbles down, consuming the bridges at sporadic intervals. It is difficult to stay dry, and the resounding roar of the falls becomes deafening at times as it is a showcase of power that will impress all of your senses with its powerful eloquence.

There is a small cafe just above the falls, a good place to relax for lunch before taking another bridge, this time into no man’s land between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although you cannot see the falls here, the growling rumble and floating spray remain a distinctive part of the landscape. You will reach the bridge on a zip line, and then jump off the bridge tied to a bungee cord. Three, two, one, and you will drop 111 meters towards the Zambezi River. Bouncing back up, there will be a glimpse of the rainbows that dance in the spray of the falls, but before you can take them all in, you will be hurtling towards the water once more. Bungee jumps around the world may be higher, but few are as iconic. After being lifted back to the bridge, you can step off once more, this time on a bungee swing. Back at the lodge, the sunset cruise helps bring you back down to earth.

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

Day 3: Livingstone – Walk With Rhinos and Kayak Past Hippos

Hippos spend their days in the Zambezi, thousands of them escaping the heat as they move up and down the river. Grunting and huffing, they congregate in large pods and fill the water with their antics. Sometimes they yawn, their jaws opening almost 180 degrees to reveal humongous teeth. This morning you will be kayaking past them, paddling down the Upper Zambezi, circumnavigating the giants. Get too close, and a warning stare will quickly have you paddling away. Fortunately, they are easy to avoid, as you rush along the fast currents and they bathe where the slow water gathers.

Your adventure will continue in Mosi Au Tunya National Park as armed rangers will lead you across the bush, every footstep crunching across the dry and dusty ground. Giraffe lope in the distance and zebra skip past, and lazing in the midday sun are wild rhinos, their bellies rising with every panting breath in the scorching heat. At this time of repose, you can walk close to them, staying downwind and stopping around 15 meters away. Even when lying down their bulk is unforgettable. Horns protrude, leaving you speechless and silent, which is ideal because these are wild rhinos and they do not like being disturbed. A short game drive through the park will complete the experience before the afternoon and evening are at your leisure.

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

Day 4: Livingstone to Chobe National Park – Thrilling Big-Game Mobile Camping Safari

Livingstone is a small town found amongst endless miles of wilderness. The city is on the migratory route of elephants, and the great pachyderms are sometimes seen crossing the main road. They are on route to Chobe National Park in Botswana, barely an hour east of Livingstone. Follow their journey as they cross the Chobe River, where your morning boat cruise will reveal hundreds upon hundreds of elephants. Babies battle with warthogs and infants swing their trunks while matriarchs exude an air of tranquility as young males seem tetchy and mischievous. Conservationists have no idea of the total number found in and around Chobe National Park, but conservative estimates put it at around 100,000. Giraffes are also permanent fixtures on the horizon, from babies yet to develop their vibrant colors to lone old males that stand majestically above the trees.

After your cruise, you will spend the afternoon on a game drive to weave through the woodland while always being surrounded by elephants. Leopards and lions hide beneath the canopy and a local guide will uncover their camouflage. Zebra and kudu skip by, impala are scattered across a clearing, and hippos are never far away. Intimate and mysterious, the Chobe woodland is also home to rare antelope like nyala and bushbuck. You will drive deep into the park to your mobile camp found amongst the trees. You will be immersed in the sounds of the wild as you listen to the hoots and shouts that flicker beneath the canopy. Spend the evening around a crackling fire, essential for keeping away hyenas, and you will be able to glimpse giant animals silhouetted in the distance. For a thrilling safari experience, it is hard to rival camping amongst the world’s greatest elephant population. The camp has a hot bucket shower, spacious walk-in tent with a bed raised off the ground, and a long-drop toilet with a Western-style toilet seat.

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

Day 5: Chobe National Park to Livingstone – Charms of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers

Continue exploring in the morning as you drive through the park in the active morning hours. Lion prides are on the move and you can spot them moving in and out of the grass. Zebras are down by the river, splashing in the shallows. Hyenas scurry around, shooting you a fixed glare as you drive past. At lunchtime, step onto a Chobe River cruise that will include lunch and pass the river’s thousands of hippos. Later in the afternoon, travel back to Zambia to spend the evening at a different lodge along the river and within easy reach of the town. If you are seeking to explore the vibrancy and hospitality of a typical African town, then the streets of Livingstone are ideal.

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

Day 6: Livingstone – Southern Africa’s Best White-Water Rafting

Victoria Falls has an insatiable energy. After the mile-wide precipice, the water converges to rush through a narrow canyon that marks the start of the Lower Zambezi. This is where you will enter the water to paddle along in a raft and battle against the grade IV and V rapids. Sometimes it is just one or two people who fall off the sides, while occasionally the full raft flips and everyone gets wet. It’s a full-day tour that’s widely considered as the best white-water rafting in Africa and a genuine adventure.

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

Day 7: Lower Zambezi National Park – Game Drives With the Big Cats

The lion pride appears to be sleeping, with cats stretched out in the shade. Look closer, and you will see a few eyes that are open as the cats are snoozing, but still alert to their surroundings. Out of nowhere, a lioness will stand up, causing you to step backward involuntarily in the vehicle. She is coming your way, staring intently, watching you with a hunter’s eyes. Another rises, and then a third. Slowly, they will encircle the safari vehicle, but they are not looking for a meal so much as shade.  Your safari vehicle has created a cool place to lay down, and the three settle in behind the back wheel. You were coming on safari hoping for encounters with the big cats, and now they are barely more than a meter from your quivering camera.

Earlier in the day, you will have taken a flight from Livingstone to Lower Zambezi National Park, for a full day spent on a private game drive through the park. Evocative and enchanting, this national park is home to a fabulous array of antelopes. Kudu, impala, bushbuck, wildebeest, waterbuck, plus half a dozen more you have probably never heard of. This population inevitably attracts the predators, and your game drive will focus on encounters with the big cats. Leopards hide in the miombo woodland and this park is a great place to find the elusive hunter. Cheetah is spotted along the plains, and you will never have to drive far to see spotted hyena. Your luxury camp is along the water and the evenings are as tranquil as they were in Livingstone, just with even more wildlife on show.

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

Day 8: Lower Zambezi National Park – Exclusive Walking Safari in Big-Game Country

Wake to the life found on the river with perhaps the sounds of a herd of wildebeest taking a swim, or a boisterous herd of bachelor buffalo prancing with designs on power. Start exploring the big game landscape as you walk with local guides who have spent generations to understand the subtleties of the land. You are walking away from the big cats as you follow the prints and smells of different antelope. Duiker surrounds you on the open plains, eland stand up tall when you get close, and wild zebra herds watch you pass.

Devoid of the noise of the safari vehicle, a walking safari will add a new layer of intimacy to your safari experience. You are just another mammal sharing the landscape, so the animals do not run away. Instead, they will inspect you with curiosity, especially as you stay slow and silent. Walk for a few hours, and then enjoy brunch beneath the cover of a  tree as you wait for the heat of midday to pass. In the afternoon, you can continue your relaxed walk or switch to a game drive to seek out the other animals of Lower Zambezi.

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

Day 9: Lower Zambezi National Park – Canoe With Big Game and Final Safari Wonders Along the Zambezi

Life in this wilderness revolves around the Zambezi River as most animals stay within easy reach of the water and congregate along the banks in the late afternoon. Lions and leopards lay ambushes, herds believe in safety in numbers, and hippos guard the best wading spaces. Today’s safari program will be flexible, although it is highly recommended that you take a traditional canoe safari along the river. Paddling silently, you can get exceptionally close to the surprises that lurk in the reeds. The big game will come to you as every bend in the river will reveal another giant coming for a drink. Perhaps finish the day with another walking safari with your armed ranger providing back up as you traverse the landscape of buffalo herds and meandering antelope.

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

Day 10: Lower Zambezi National Park to Livingstone – Departure

Spend a relaxed morning along the river to watch the buffalo splash about as the elephants use their trunks as snorkels. Make your way to the small airstrip to take a short flight to return to Livingstone and connect with your international departure.

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

Price

Starting Price 

$4,495
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.