The Lower Zambezi valley is a huge rift in the earth’s crust, through which the mighty Zambezi River flows.

There are national parks on both sides of the river – Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean bank, and the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side. The landscape is beautiful: tall lead woods, ebonies, acacias and figs stand on a carpet of rich grassland. But the main attraction is the area’s game, which congregates near the river during the dry season.

Most visitors to the Lower Zambezi fly in by light aircraft to one of the valley’s small airstrips, and stay at one or two of the safari camps or lodges along the river. Although it is possible to drive into the valley, or even to drive part of the way and finish your journey by boat, arriving by air is the most efficient way to maximize your time within the park.

Flights can be organised from Lusaka, Livingstone or South Luangwa’s Mfuwe Airport, making a Lower Zambezi safari easy to combine with time in the South Luangwa National Park or a trip to Victoria Falls. On arrival you will be met by someone from your safari lodge, and transferred by 4WD, taking in any game that you see along the way. Back at the camp, you will be welcomed by the team with some time to settle in, before heading out on an activity such as a safari walk or drive.

At Authentic Safaris Zambia, we concentrate on the Safari Camps that are within, or beside, the Lower Zambezi National Park itself because we believe that these offer the best game and safari experience. All are located in natural bush along the river, with game regularly roaming through camp. Safari camps in the Lower Zambezi are widely spaced, so you won’t see many, if any, other vehicles during a game drive.

Although the safari camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park differ in style, from sophisticated safari lodges to the simplest of bush camps, you can expect personal service that is up there with the best. Guiding is generally excellent, with all guides trained to the high standards set by the Lower Zambezi Conservation Trust.

Several of the camps in the valley are independently owned and run, and receive consistently high reports from our travelers. There are also a couple of safari houses, which are great options for small groups or families traveling together.

Visitors to the Lower Zambezi National Park, with its location on the wide Zambezi River, can usually choose from an exceptional range of activities. Most Lower Zambezi safari lodges offer two activities a day, one in the early morning, the second in late afternoon – with plenty of time for a leisurely lunch and a siesta between the two.

Game drives in open-topped 4WD vehicles are a regular fixture in all camps, but most also offer the option of a walking safari with a qualified guide and armed ranger. On the water, there are boat trips to explore the Zambezi, keeping an eye out for hippos, crocodile and an impressive array of birds. The more intrepid might prefer to take to the waters in a canoe, while anglers won’t want to miss the opportunity to seek out the mighty tiger fish (though note that all fishing here is on a catch-and-release basis).

The Lower Zambezi has strong populations of big game. Buffalo and elephant are common, and move freely between Zimbabwe and Zambia, often grazing on the islands in the middle of the river. The Lower Zambezi’s antelope species are dominated by large herds of impala, but there are also good populations of kudu, eland, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck and the odd duiker or grysbok.

In the river, crocodile and hippo are always present, but look out also for the large water monitor lizard, which occurs frequently here.

The major predators in the Lower Zambezi are lion, leopard and spotted hyena – and in our experience it’s an excellent park for game viewing. The varied terrain (with many large trees) seems to suit leopards, whilst the large herds of buffalo attract large prides of lion. Wild dogs occur, and generally also den in or near the park, although sightings tend to be sporadic.

The park’s bird-life is rich – 378 species have been recorded here, including many species of eagle, heron, stork and bee-eater. Just considering the kingfishers, you’ll find pied, giant, woodland, malachite and brown-hooded kingfishers are all common here. Similarly, the river is frequented by darters, cormorants, egrets and storks, and fish eagles are often seen perching in trees that overlook the water. The Lower Zambezi is rich in wading birds, both resident and migrant; uncommon residents include ospreys, spoonbills and African skimmers