THE LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
This park is still relatively undeveloped and it has its beauty lying in its wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game which wonders in and out of the Zambezi River channels are spectacular. The park is located just opposite the famous Mana Pools Game Reserve of Zimbabwe, so the entire area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of over 4000 square kilometers, most of its game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment on the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the park’s animal species.
WHEN TO VISIT THE LOWER ZAMBEZI
Most of the Lower Zambezi National Park Lodges and Camps are open to visitors from mid April through to mid November when the park is easily accessible for game drive and walking safaris. Fishing is at its best in September and October. There are however, a few lodges which are open in the rainy season to offer water-based activities.
GETTING TO THE LOWER ZAMBEZI
The fastest and easiest way to get to most lodges in the Lower Zambezi is by flight. Proflight operates daily scheduled flights to the Lower Zambezi from Lusaka; we book these domestic flights for our clients as part of the package for their Zambia safari holiday.
You can also access most lodges in the Lower Zambezi by road using a 4 x 4 vehicle and this is our common recommendation for lodges situated near Chirundu Border.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOWER ZAMBEZI
As Authentic Safaris Zambia, we concentrate on recommending the camps and lodges which are within or beside the Lower Zambezi National Park itself because we believe that these are places where the best game and safari experience is offered. All the lodges we book for our clients are located in natural bush along the river, with game regularly roaming through the camp. The camps and lodges in the Lower Zambezi are spaced far from each other, so you won’t see many, if any, other vehicles during a game drive.
Although the safari camps in the Lower Zambezi differ in style, from sophisticated safari lodges to simple bush camps, one thing that is common with all of them is that personal service is guaranteed. Guiding is generally excellent, as all guides are trained to the high standards set by the Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust.
A number of camps in the valley such as Chiawa Camp, Old Mondoro, Sausage Tree Camp, Potato Bushcamp and Chongwe River Camp are independently owned and run, and we receive good reports from our clients who stay there. There are also other lower budget options which we recommend and book for clients who cannot afford the high rates which come with most of the upper-market camps in the area.
WHAT TO SEE IN LOWER ZAMBEZI
The ecological system of the Lower Zambezi National Park and the Chiawa Game Management Area support a relatively large population of animals. The escarpment and plateau regions of the park are unaccessible and have not been formally exploited. A small area of the valley floor is host to many big animals such as elephant, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, zebra and of course, crocodiles in the river. Occasionally, roan, eland and the samango monkey are also seen. In the night, you will most likely see animals such as hyena, porcupine, civet, genet and honeybadger. Lion, leopard and wild dog constitute the main predators in the area.
The birdlife along the river banks is also exceptional. Fish eagle is one of the most common bird species and you will also the white-fronted and carmine bee-eaters nesting along the cliffs. Other common species include red-winged practincole, crested guinea fowl, black eagle and vast swarms of quelea. You will also see the trumpeter hornbill, Meyer’s parrot and Lilian’s lovebird. In the summer, the stunning narina trogon makes its home here.
ACTIVITIES IN LOWER ZAMBEZI
Because of its location, the Lower Zambezi offers an exceptional range of activities to visitors. Most lodges and camps in the area offer 2 activities per day, one in the morning and a second in the late afternoon – with enough time for lunch and siesta in between the two activities of the day.
Game drives in open-topped 4WD vehicles are a regular fixture in all camps, but most of them also offer an option of a walking safari with a qualified guide and armed ranger. On the water, you can enjoy boat trips to explore the Zambezi River, while keeping an eye out for hippos, crocodiles and an impressive array of birds. The more adventurous might prefer to go on a canoe trip, while anglers will have a chance to seek out the mighty tiger fish.