Ultimate Dry Season Zambia Safari

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Two African elephants giving each other a warm embrace in Zambia, Africa
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Total Trip:

11 Days
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Countries Visited:

Zambia
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Places Visited:

Livingstone, Victoria Falls, South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park, Kafue National Park
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
This 11-day safari will showcase the highlights of Zambia, taking you off the beaten track and into some of Africa’s most untouched places. From a multitude of exhilarating angles, you will experience the famous animals and a spellbinding wildlife diversity. You will go walking in North Luangwa, canoeing in Lower Zambezi, nighttime driving in South Luangwa, and off-the-trail hiking in Kafue. These are among Africa’s most intimate safari experiences in lands untouched and unchanged, and you will

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Day 1

Livingstone – Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River

New flight routes and a redeveloped airport have made Zambia more accessible. Livingstone is the gateway town for Victoria Falls, and from here, there are safari flights to each of the country’s major destinations. After touching down this morning, you will be transferred to a lodge on the Zambezi River. It is very peaceful here, even with the baboons and vervet monkeys that swing past throughout the day. There will be time to unwind at your lodge before a sunset cruise continues your feeling of tranquility. As drinks and food are served on the boat, this will be your opportunity to glimpse at elephants and hippos for the first time.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast

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Day 2

Livingstone – Experiencing Victoria Falls and White Rhinos

From the forest, you can hear the waterfall growl. The roar of tumbling water will guide you along a winding trail. Then, the falls will seem to appear from nowhere. One more corner and the sheer volume of water will take your breath away. After your first sighting, there will be no escaping the falls. Following the trail onwards, you will cross Knife-edge Bridge to a cataract in the Zambezi River. This is the wettest part of the walk as spray rises from the chasm and rains down upon you. There is no choice but to get wet, and this truly illustrates why Victoria Falls is the most powerful waterfall of them all.

After the falls, you will stay in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. Zambia has plentiful big game, and over the following eight days, you should have intimate encounters with almost all the famous species, including four of the famous big five. However, white rhinos are rare, and only a dozen of them can be found in the entire country. These rhinos are located in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and are under 24-hour armed protection due to the threat of poaching. This afternoon, these guards will lead you across the savanna on foot, until you are barely 15 meters away from the dozing giants. It will be an intense, wildlife experience that epitomizes the inimitability of a Zambian safari.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 3 - 4

South Luangwa National Park – Classic Big Game Safari

South Luangwa will dazzle you from your first glance. Endemic Thornicroft giraffes wander through acacia-dappled savanna. Elephant herds make loud trombone noises in a riverine forest, buffalos are on the march, and you can see enormous herds crossing the plains near your camp. On your first game drive, you will search for animals that cannot be encountered anywhere else in Africa other than Luangwa. Cookson’s wildebeest are joyful creatures and will be full of sparkling energy as they gallop past the vehicle. Of all the zebra subspecies, Crawshay’s zebras have the most enchanting stripes with black shading that brings great subtlety to their appearance.

Each daytime game drive will explore a different area of the park, and Luangwa’s mix of habitats makes for a wide variety of animal encounters. Your camp will be located along a river in the east of the park, and a floodlight illuminates this popular spot at night. So, on both evenings, you can sit around a campfire and watch the different animals that come to take a drink. South Luangwa is one of Africa’s ultimate safari destinations, and two days of daytime game drives will offer you a multitude of impressions. This is a great place to visit first because it has a complete mix of animals, except for rhinos, and really makes for an introduction.

It will be after dark when you enjoy the biggest thrills. Nighttime game drives will track lions and leopards in their natural habitat. Guides and trackers work in tandem to locate the cats, and you will slowly follow them, admiring how they move stealthily in the search for food. These game drives will reveal how the atmosphere changes, and the tables turn at night. Some animals who appear confident during the day become tense and frightened in the dark. Others only emerge at night, such as porcupines, genets, and other serval cats. Spotted hyenas are another excellent animal to track. These are predators who can cover large distances to find sick, weak, and frightened prey. Nighttime game drives can last up to three hours and will be included on both of your nights here.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 5 - 6

North Luangwa National Park – Africa’s Finest Walking Safari

South Luangwa is arguably the best park in Africa to do a nighttime game drive. In North Luangwa, wildlife moves freely between the two parks. This is Africa’s best destination for multi-day walking safaris. Elsewhere in Africa, you can do game drives and walks in the same park. In North Luangwa, there is no driving other than for a single four-wheel drive track that transfers visitors to the airstrip, camps, and different trailheads. Every year, this track is washed away by the rains, and after the rains, the landscape is dominated by high-rising vegetation. This provides many places for predators to hide, so walking safaris simply are not safe. As such, North Luangwa is only open to visitors from June to October.

The flight between South and North Luangwa only takes 20 minutes and will maximize the time you have for exploring. On day five, you will spend the afternoon walking in the virgin bush and exploring areas that have been completely untouched by human impact. Cookson’s zebras do not move away when you approach them, and wildebeest will stare back at you as do herds of cud-chewing buffalos. Mostly, you will cross open savanna where clear visibility helps ensure your safety. Elephants and giraffes can be encountered from a distance, but the route deliberately stays clear of the big cats. Walking safaris can sound dangerous, but remember that the trackers and guides have grown up in this kind of environment. They have lived side by side with Zambia’s large mammals for a lifetime so they will know how to keep you safe. It is very important that you listen to your guides during this experience.

Day six will be more adventurous as you will spend a full day exploring on foot. Walking safaris are never a race. You will move slowly and learn about the ecosystem and subtleties of animal tracking. Indentations in trees provide a glimpse of where elephants traveled, and prints will alert you to the movement of spotted hyenas or even leopards. So, a walking safari is not just about the animals that you encounter, but the understanding that you gain. You will enjoy a superb connection to the wilderness and learn how to explore with all your senses.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 7 - 8

Lower Zambezi National Park – Enchanting Wetland Safari

Three species will dominate the panorama when you start to explore Lower Zambezi National Park. Hippos will be bathing in the late morning sun, filling big swathes of the Zambezi River. Elephants may appear to be everywhere with the profusion of infants as an indication of their health, and buffalos are almost always visible around the riverbanks and are most famously spotted swimming between this park and Mana Pools in Zimbabwe on the opposite of the river. Wetlands are ideal places for these three species, and this is one of the greatest wetlands of them all. This is a World Heritage ecosystem that is hundreds of miles from any town or city.

After landing at the dusty airstrip, you will be transferred to a lodge on the riverbank, which will prove a prime vantage point from which to watch animals taking a drink. Game drives will take you around the park, and these can continue at night. This is not the best park for encountering big cats; they are present, but the high grass and thick trees mean encounters require both luck and patience. Luckily, there is another predator that you can find. Packs of wild dogs feast on the park’s abundant impala, and your guide knows where they den. With a little fortune, you can track these animals out on a hunt with the pack splitting into formation as they tire out a young impala during a long chase.

Of course, a wetland ecosystem is all about the water. So, on day eight, you will stay on the water, spending the entire day canoeing down the Zambezi River. This will provide access to large parts of the park that are inaccessible to vehicles. If you paddle slowly downriver, you can explore life along the banks where all manner of animals can be coming for a drink. Perhaps, you will see elephants who are playfully splashing with some using their trunks as snorkels. You can also encounter quarrels between different hippos. Like a walking safari, canoeing also offers a very serene experience, and there will be no vehicle noise, so you can hear and smell the ecosystem as much as you see it.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 9 - 10

Kafue National Park – Offbeat Safari on the Open Plains

Kafue epitomizes Zambia’s appeal as an underrated gem. Many thousands of red lechwe dance around the swamps and their antics contrast those of more sober, semi-aquatic residents such as the sitatunga. Waterbuck and kudu travel in large herds, and their dominant size contrasts with smaller puku and oribi. Elephants cover the miombo woodlands while the open, Busanga Plains feel a little like the more famous Serengeti. There are rivers, forests, floodplains, and stretches of bush that are packed with everything from hyena to zebra to buffalo.

Kafue National Park is almost the size of Belgium, yet it receives only a tiny fraction of the visitors that enter more famous parks nearby. Once inside the park, you can explore many different ways, including daytime drives, nighttime drives, game walks, and boat safaris on one of the many swamps. This means Kafue is an ideal place to finish a multi-destination Zambian safari. You will have already tried these different activities and can plan out these two days around what you liked the most.

Much of the park closes during the wet season, and you need to be here in the dry season for better viewing of the park’s numerous predators. Lions, cheetahs, and leopards are all present, and the encounters are often dramatic, especially when one of these cats emerges from the high grass and hunts around a swamp or river. You can watch lions chase red lechwe as the antelope use the water for safety. You may also see a cheetah chasing puku across the open plains. Predator encounters are made even more intimate by the opportunity to drive off the four-wheel drive trails. With so few visitors, this is a park where you can make your own trails, which often lead to intense and evocative scenes with Africa’s most iconic species.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 11

Kafue to Livingstone – Departure

After a final safari activity, you will be transferred to the airstrip for your flight back to Livingstone. Dayroom hotel use has been arranged, so you can freshen up and relax before your outbound flight.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

expand/close
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Trip Highlights

  • Connect with the wilderness on a two-day walking safari in North Luangwa, which is a national park that is inaccessible to vehicles
  • Explore an enchanting, wetland ecosystem during two days in Lower Zambezi, including the chance to canoe past four-legged giants
  • Indulge in an evening Game drive in South Luangwa, which is just one highlight of a park that is famous for both its big cats and unusual animals
  • Explore off the beaten track in Kafue, which is a vast savanna ecosystem where you will continuously drive off the trail
  • Marvel at Victoria Falls and admire the thunderous spectacle
  • Track big cats and understand their movements, especially the leopards in South Luangwa and the lions of Kafue
  • Fly between safari destinations, which will save you time and provide stunning views across the Zambian wilderness
  • Bask in the views of the big game, particularly the Zambian abundance of elephants, hippos, and buffalos
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Detailed Description

A Zambia safari is different from a safari elsewhere in Africa. Most of the wilderness can be comparable to other parts of Africa. For example, Lower Zambezi shares many characteristics with the Okavango while the Busanga Plains draw comparisons with the Serengeti. Many of the animals are similar as well, particularly large elephant herds, spotted cats, and boisterous hippos. These big-game favorites are complemented by an eclectic cast of the rare and unusual with Zambia being the only place to encounter species like Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra. The contrast is experiential. In Zambia, the safari is not just about where you go and what you see, but it also concerns how you can explore.

Nighttime drives are not an additional option but are part of your everyday experience. Walking safaris will not take you on a short loop around the camp; they will venture into vast tracts of savanna that are entirely inaccessible to vehicles. Zambia is where the adventure can offer you every possible angle from canoeing down the Zambezi River to going off the trail in Kafue. Please, do note that the destinations and activities are seasonal. It is only during the dry season when these destinations are accessible, and the activities are safe. This handcrafted safari is only possible from June to October, which is when adventure unfolds during the months that are best for game viewing.

Transport connections have been a drawback and traditionally keep visitors away from Zambia. On this luxury safari, you will travel on a light aircraft and spend two nights in each of five countrywide destinations. The flights keep your senses firmly in the wilderness and negate the country’s long and bumpy roads. These five destinations reflect a rich diversity of ecosystems and animals in addition to the stunning mix of safari experiences. All the variety tends to make Zambia a favorite of those returning to Africa for a second or third safari. However, for the complete safari experience, this route will offer almost everything you can ever dream of in Africa.

You will fly to Livingstone, which is the gateway to Victoria Falls. You will spend half a day with the waterfall and an hour on foot with the country’s only white rhinos. On day three, you fly to South Luangwa, which is Zambia’s flagship park that is home to a sublime savanna-type ecosystem. Here, evening game drives will track leopards while daytime drives provide a beautiful introduction to Africa’s big game. On day five, you will take a very short flight to North Luangwa, which is Africa’s ultimate walking safari destination. Game drives are not allowed here, and there are no tracks or vehicle trails. You can walk and discover a landscape that is completely free of human impact, which often results in a wildlife intimacy that is often too surreal to be believed.

Next, it will be a classic wetland safari experience in Lower Zambezi National Park with elephants swimming across the Zambezi River and dramatic scenes along muddy banks. There is abundance here, and much of your time will be spent at the lodge, relaxing on a wooden deck as animals drink from the river below. Canoeing can be a thrilling highlight here, and evening game drives will complement your daytime exploration. Those in the know are still baffled at how Kafue remains off the beaten track. It is one of Africa’s wildest and most intense destinations where the safari can take you through swamps, woodland, grasslands, and riverine forest. Often, you will simply stop and wait to be surrounded by thousands of animals. After two days in Kafue, you will fly back to Livingstone and connect with your outbound flight.  Consider learning more about our travelers’ best Africa Safari activities by reading their travel reviews.

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Starting Price

$4945 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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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.

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