Kasanka National Park
One of Zambia’s least-known wilderness areas and a real highlight of a visit to this part of the country is the privately managed Kasanka National Park. At just 390 sq km it’s pretty small compared to most African parks, it doesn’t have a huge range of facilities and it sees very few visitors – and this is what makes it special.
Beyond Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River flows through the Batoka Gorge then enters the waters of Lake Kariba. Formed behind the massive Kariba Dam, this is one of the largest artificial lakes in Africa. The lake is enormous and spectacular with the silhouettes of jagged Zimbabwean peaks far across its shimmering waters.
The Bangweulu Wetlands is a watery wilderness of lakes, seasonally flooded grasslands, swamp and unspoiled miombo woodland that lies 50km to the north of Kasanka. This rarely visited part of Zambia is the only place in Africa to see major numbers of black lechwes (antelopes with long, curved antlers).
About 40km northwest of Mbala, along the border between Zambia and Tanzania, is the 221m-high Kalambo Falls. Twice as high but nowhere near as expansive as Victoria Falls, Kalambo is the second-highest single-drop waterfall in Africa (the highest being Tugela Falls in South Africa).
Lochinvar National Park
This small, 410 sq km park, northwest of Monze, consists of grassland, low wooded hills and the seasonally flooded Chunga Lagoon – all part of a huge World Heritage Wetland Site called the Kafue Flats. You may see buffaloes, wildebeests, zebras, kudus and some of the 30,000 Kafue lechwes residing in the park.
Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage
On a farm deep in the African bush, about 70km northwest of Chingola, is this impressive chimpanzee sanctuary. It’s home to around 120 adult and young chimps, most of which have been confiscated from poachers and traders in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo or other parts of Africa. It’s the largest sanctuary of its kind in the world.
Kasama is the capital of the Northern Province and the cultural centre of the Bemba people. With its wide, leafy streets and handsome, old, tin-roofed colonial houses, it is the most appealing of the northern towns. There’s a laid-back, friendly vibe here, a number of good guesthouses, decent shops and good bus connections.
All roads lead to Lusaka, the geographic, commercial and metaphorical heart of the country. However, Zambia's capital and largest urban zone, with its mishmash of dusty tree-lined streets, bustling African markets, Soviet-looking high-rise blocks and modern commerce, doesn't easily justify exploration by the casual visitor.