If you’re out to experience the ‘real’ Africa, Zambia is that diamond in the rough. The country boasts some of the continent’s best wildlife parks, and shares (with Zimbabwe) some of the region’s major highlights: Victoria Falls in Southwestern Zambia, Lake Kariba as well as Lower Zambezi National Park in Southeastern Zambia. It is also an angler’s dream, as fishermen hail from all over the world to try their luck on the mighty Zambezi River with the hopes of landing a toothy tigerfish or the rare, giant vundu. Avid birders also flock to Zambia to glimpse its fabulous diversity of birds, most notably Chaplin’s barbets.
For independent travellers Zambia can be a challenge: distances between major towns and attractions are large, and getting around by car or public transport takes time and patience. But for many, this challenge is part of Zambia’s appeal. Save Lusaka and Livingstone, this is the ‘real’ Africa, so rare among the increasingly developed and Westernised parts of the region.
So if you like your travel easy and your wilderness neatly bundled into a homogenised and Westernised version of ‘Africa’, then much of Zambia may not appeal. But if you enjoy a raw edge and an Africa with few tourists, Zambia is the place you’re looking for.
Best places to stay in Zambia
Take to the skies: the world's greatest airborne adventures
Got a head for heights? Soar into the ether in some of the world’s most inspiring locations. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Paragliding at Pokhara, Nepal Paragliders over Pokhara, Nepal by momo. CC BY 2.0.
Top things to do in Victoria Falls
Zambia destination guides
Hold tight: the world's best rafting rivers
Zip up your wetsuit, cinch your helmet: we bring you the biggest, baddest and raddest rivers for rafting the world over – and all guided commercially for your convenience. Sun Kosi River, Nepal Raft negotiating the 'Meatgrinder' rapid on Sun Kosi River. Image by Anders Blomqvist / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.
Southern Africa Explorer
A classic overland journey through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe
African Wilderness in Comfort
A diverse accommodated overland traverse through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls)
Top 10 reasons to visit Zambia
This large, landlocked country in southern Africa has natural attractions that rival any continental competitor. The sheer size and remoteness of Zambia’s vast network of national parks mean no safari jeep traffic jams, very personal service and an opportunity to meet massive mammals eye-to-eye.