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The Lower Zambezi National Park

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The Lower Zambezi National Park is just simply exquisite! It is all about colours and nature at its best, gorgeous luxury tented camps and lodges and superb wildlife sightings. The park is only a short flight away from Lusaka, the capital and as the name suggests, the park is dominated by the great Zambezi River.

At certain points it can be almost a kilometre wide. On the opposite bank lies Zimbabwe and its own park – Mana Pools, a Unesco World Heritage Site of natural beauty. The Lower Zambezi is just as wonderful and in addition, it has the Zambezi plateau that dominates the park on its boundary, casting its impressive shadow. 

With her floodplains, grasslands and tall forests as well as the river, the park is a sanctuary for animals and supports incredible game densities of wide variety. This region is excellent for predators, especially lion, but also leopard, too.  Waterbuck, zebra, warthog and wildebeest are common and elephant are often seen swimming the Zambezi River to feed on the grassy islands where buffalo also graze. 

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The sandy riverbanks are home to the iridescent carmine bee-eater colonies while kingfishers and African skimmers flit above the waters.  Predators are present too – lion prides are seen most days and leopard are seen in good numbers too.

The best time for spotting nocturnal species is on an evening drive when armed with a spotlight (with a red filter) and with the whoop of the spotted hyena and the distant cough of the lion, drives in search of leopard, civet and porcupine often prove very fruitful. On one single drive we have seen three leopard, eight porcupine and five civet!

It is the variety of activities available in the Lower Zambezi that makes this park so attractive and to staying much longer than the normal two to three nights. There is more than enough to do and see, from walking safaris to drives, canoeing, boating and fishing that the Lower Zambezi has much to offer and this makes it attractive for family safaris, too.

Canoeing down the Zambezi River is sublime – quiet, beautiful, being at one with nature and blending in with the environment. Perhaps glide slowly and silently along a river bank where carmine bee eaters are nesting, see them swoop through the skies and over the water. Do look out for elephant as they cross the river, their trunks emerging like periscopes, they wade through the shallower parts of the river and browse in the reed-beds.

Try some fishing – the fabulously fighting tiger fish is a challenge to all. Famed for its excellent fishing, other species that can be caught include vundu (giant catfish), a variety of bream, chessa, nkupi and bottlenose. A catch and release policy is enforced.


Pictures by courtesy of Chiawa and Old Mondoro  

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