Must see attractions in Zambia, Malawi & Mozambique

  • Top ChoiceSights in Zambia

    South Luangwa National Park

    For scenery, variety and density of animals, South Luangwa is the best park in Zambia and one of the most majestic in Africa. Impalas, pukus, waterbucks, giraffes and buffaloes wander on the wide-open plains; leopards, of which there are many in the park, hunt in the dense woodlands; herds of elephants wade through the marshes; and hippos munch serenely on Nile cabbage in the Luangwa River. The bird life is also tremendous: about 400 species have been recorded. The focal point is Mfuwe, an uninspiring though more prosperous than average village with shops as well as a petrol station and market. Around 1.8km further along is Mfuwe Gate, the main entrance to the park, where a bridge crosses the Luangwa River. Much of the park is inaccessible because of rains between November and April. All lodges/camps run excellent day or night wildlife drives and some have walking safaris (June to November). These activities are included in the rates charged by the upmarket places, while the cheaper lodges/camps can organise things with little notice. A three-hour morning or evening wildlife drive normally costs around US$40, while a wildlife walk is about US$50. The wide Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the park. It rises in the far northeast of Zambia, near the border with Malawi, and flows southward for 800km through the broad Luangwa Valley – an offshoot of the Great Rift Valley, which cuts through East and Southern Africa. It flows all year, and gets very shallow in the dry season (May to October) when vast midstream sandbanks are exposed – usually covered in groups of hippos or crocodiles basking in the sun. Steep exposed banks mean animals prefer to drink at the park’s numerous oxbow lagoons, formed as the river continually changes its course, and this is where wildlife viewing is often best, especially as the smaller water holes run dry. The park is famous for its herds of buffaloes, which are particularly large and dramatic when they congregate in the dry season and march en masse to the river to drink. Elephant numbers are also very healthy, even though ivory poaching in the 1980s had a dramatic effect on the population. Elephants are not at all skittish as they are very used to human activity and wildlife vehicles, especially around Mfuwe. This park is also a great place to see lions and leopards (especially on night drives), plus local species including Cookson’s wildebeest (an unusual light-coloured subspecies) and the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, distinguished from other giraffes by a dark neck pattern.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Livingstone

    Devil's Pool

    One of the most thrilling experiences – not only at the falls but in all of Africa – is the hair-raising journey to Livingstone Island. Here you will bathe in Devil's Pool – nature’s ultimate infinity pool, set directly on the edge of the Victoria Falls. You can leap into the pool and then poke your head over the edge to get an extraordinary view of the 100m drop. Here also you'll see the plaque marking the spot where David Livingstone first sighted the falls. You can only visit Livingstone Island as part of a tour, and swimming in Devil's Pool is only possible during the drier months, usually from the middle of August to mid January. Five trips depart daily by boat to Livingstone Island, from where you'll swim to Devil's Pools. When the water is low around October and November, you’re able to access it via walking across, but a guide is compulsory. Note that access to the island is closed from around March to May when the water levels are too high. Prices start at US$90 which includes a full English Breakfast, US$158 for lunch or US$133 for high tea, including alcohol.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bazaruto Archipelago

    Bazaruto National Park

    This1400-sq-km park protects the five islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, plus surrounding waters. Thanks to this protected status, and to the archipelago's relative isolation from the ravages of war on the mainland, nature bursts forth in full force, with dozens of bird species, including fish eagles and pink flamingos, plus red duikers, bushbucks and, especially on Benguera, Nile crocodiles. Dolphins swim through the clear waters, along with 2000 types of fish, plus loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Most intriguing are the elusive dugongs, who spend their days foraging among seagrass meadows around the archipelago. Living amid all the natural beauty are about 3500 Mozambicans who call the archipelago home. National-park entry fees are normally collected by the island hotels, and in advance by most Vilankulo-based dhow-safari operators. Park headquarters are located at Sitone, on the western side of Bazaruto Island. While fees for diving, walking and other activities within the archipelago have been approved in principle, they are not currently being enforced.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Livingstone

    Victoria Falls World Heritage National Monument Site

    This is what you're here for: the mighty Victoria Falls! It's a part of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, located 11km outside town before the Zambia border crossing. From the centre, a network of paths leads through thick vegetation to various viewpoints. For close-up views of the Eastern Cataract, nothing beats the hair-raising (and hair-wetting) walk across the footbridge, through swirling clouds of mist, to a sheer buttress called the Knife Edge. If the water is low, or the wind is favourable, you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of the falls as well as the yawning abyss below. Otherwise, your vision (and your clothes) will be drenched by spray. Then you can walk down a steep track to the banks of the great Zambezi to see the huge whirlpool called the Boiling Pot. Watch out for cheeky baboons. Note during the dry season (from August to January) the water flow can be low to non-existent, in which case it's recommended that you cross over to the Zimbabwe side for a look at the main falls; visas are available at the border. When there's a full moon (and just before and after) the park is open in the evenings in order to see the amazing lunar rainbow.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Malawi

    Liwonde National Park

    With its lodges and safari activities, Liwonde is the closest thing Malawi has to a traditional wildlife park. Dominating the west, the Shire River overflows with hippos and crocodiles and is a favourite stomping ground for the 500-plus elephants. Waterbucks are also common near the water, while beautiful sable and roan antelopes, zebras and elands populate the floodplains. Night drives can reveal spotted genets, bushbabies, scrub hares, side-striped jackals and even spotted hyenas. Several black rhinos are protected within a separate enclosure as part of a rhino-breeding program, and there's a rich and colourful array of birdlife. October to January is particularly good for birdwatching, as migratory birds, including Böhm’s bee-eater, set up summer camp. One of the real pleasures of a trip to Liwonde is boating along the river, the water dotted with purple lilies and statuesque palms framing the hills behind. Morning or evening, you're virtually guaranteed to see hippos and likely to see crocodiles, fish eagles, and a whole host of other waterbirds.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Malawi

    Majete Wildlife Reserve

    Since African Parks took over management of this rugged wilderness on the western bank of the Shire River in 2003, things have really been looking up. There are now more than 3000 animals in the reserve, most translocated from other parks in Malawi and elsewhere in Southern Africa, including lions, hyenas, sable antelope, nyalas, black rhinos, buffaloes, elephants, hippos and leopards. The reserve's two main roads are Mkulumadzi Rd, which runs parallel to the Shire River, and Namitsempha Rd, heading west from the entrance. Along Mkulumadzi Rd, just past the reserve gate, are the grand Kapichira Falls; further on is Mvuu Hide, from where you can watch hippos. A reserve map is available at the gate.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mozambique

    Cascata

    Don't worry if you haven't the time or energy to summit Mt Namúli. Equally memorable is the 8km (one way) hike to the cascata (waterfall) in the hills north of town. Take a picnic, carry plenty of water and allow an easy day for the excursion. A guide isn't required, as you'll encounter plenty of local villagers and tea pickers along the route. To get there, head first to the UP4 tea factory (also known as Chá Sambique), which you can see in the distance to the north; ask locals to point out the way and allow about 45 minutes on foot. From UP4, it’s approximately another two hours on foot along a winding track through the tea plantations to the falls, which will be to your right. Swimming is possible in the pools above the cascades.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Maputo

    Chissano Gallery

    Works of renowned sculptor Alberto Chissano, as well as his remains, are on display in his family’s residence at the Chissano Gallery. Taxis from central Maputo charge from Mtc500 return, including waiting time.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Maputo

    National Art Museum

    Half a block west of Avenida Karl Marx, the National Art Museum has an excellent collection of paintings and sculptures by Mozambique’s finest contemporary artists, including Malangatana and Alberto Chissano.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Maputo

    Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano

    An excellent place, with art exhibitions, music and dance performances, films, theatre, a craft shop, a cafe and more.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lilongwe

    Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

    This 1.1-sq-km wilderness area is Malawi's only sanctuary for orphaned, injured and rescued wild animals, and plays an active role in conservation. Local residents include a one-eyed lion rescued from Romania, a python, two cobras, baboons, duikers, servals, and blue and vervet monkeys. The entry fee includes a one-hour tour of the enclosures. This isn’t a zoo, so you aren’t guaranteed to see any animals on the tour, but you will get to walk through a lovely wilderness area and learn about the centre’s aims and animal conservation in Malawi. Alternatively, you can wander the woodland trails and use the playground, picnic area and cafe. The centre is considered by the UK-based Born Free Foundation, among others, to be a safe space for injured animals and those rescued from the bushmeat and wildlife trades, poorly kept zoos, and private collections. Its aim is to rehabilitate the animals for a life back in the wild, and it has a strict no-breeding, no-trade and no-non-essential-contact policy. It also runs an outreach program to schools. A project of the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the centre is alongside the Lingadzi River, between City Centre and Old Town.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northern Malawi

    Cultural & Museum Centre Karonga

    This museum, off the M1, celebrates the numerous fossil discoveries made in these parts, and the skeleton of the Malawisaurus (or a copy of it, anyway) takes pride of place. Visits take the form of a guided tour, with information panels in English adding detail. You’ll enjoy a whistle-stop journey through the history of the planet, with particular reference to the Karonga district, 'from dinosaurs to democracy' via milestones such as the rise of humans and Malawi’s fight for independence. Following the path of a giant snake along the museum floor, you'll encounter some fun exhibits along the way: a viewfinder you can look through to find a prehistoric human staring back at you; displays of late-19th-century warriors’ dress and smoking pipes; and colourful wall murals by local artists defining the themes of the museum's various sections – from a prehistoric family sitting by the lake to 'president for life' Hastings Banda waving his trademark fly whip.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lilongwe

    Parliament Building

    To get up close to Malawi’s movers and shakers, head to the home of the national parliament. It moved in 1994 from Zomba to the ostentatious palace of former president Banda on the outskirts of Lilongwe and now occupies this shiny new building near Capital Hill. Apply for a free guided tour by filling in a form at the gate two days beforehand (and only on weekdays). Tours visit the offices, exterior and, when not in use, debating chamber; specify on the form if you would like to see the proceedings of parliament.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Maputo

    Train Station

    Maputo’s landmark train station is one of the city’s most imposing buildings. The dome was designed by an associate of Alexandre Gustav Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame), although Eiffel himself never set foot in Mozambique. Also impressive are the wrought-iron latticework, pillars and verandas gracing the dark-green exterior. Inside is the Kulungwana Espaço Artístico, with a small exhibition of works by local and visiting artists, and sculptures and paintings for sale.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lilongwe

    Kamuzu Mausoleum

    This marble and granite mausoleum is the final resting place of Malawi's 'president for life', Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Between four pillars bearing the initials of his most prized principles – unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline – is a wrinkled portrait of the 'lion of Malawi'. Guides at the entrance will show you around in exchange for a small tip. Banda ruled from 1961 to 1994 and died in 1997, aged almost 100. Construction of the mausoleum finished in 2006 at a cost of US$600,000.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lusaka

    Lusaka National Park

    The idea of seeing a rhino in the wild just 15km from the capital seems absurd, but this new national park (opened in 2015) allows you to do just that. Set over 46 sq km, it's home to eland, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest, among others. But it's the white rhino that brings people here. While you'll be able to tick it off from the list of Big Five, most likely you'll see them in their holding pen, so it can feel more like a zoo than national park. Imported from South Africa, the rhino are dehorned for anti-poaching purposes and guarded 24 hours a day. They spend most of the time roaming, but are fed in their pen – so it's a good idea to call ahead to ensure you see them. All up it's a nice retreat from town, but with the nearby power station at the park's entry, it's not the most pristine of locations. Theoretically it has bikes to rent, but in practice they're rarely available. It's located 4.5km off Leopards Hill Rd.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lusaka

    Wildlife Discovery Centre

    On the southern outskirts of town is this center set up by Game Rangers International (a Zambian conservationist NGO), which just opened the relocated elephant nursery that moved from Lilayi Lodge in 2022 and works with rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants in Kafue National Park. They are open seven days a week from 9am to 3pm, and elephant viewing happens daily from 11:45am to 1pm. Entry is US$15 for adults; prices vary for residents and citizens. The center also runs sponsored 'Kids for Conservation' programs for children from under-resourced schools in Zambia.

  • Sights in Southern Mozambique

    Maputo Special Reserve

    The Maputo Special Reserve – about a two-hour drive south of Maputo – is the closest place to the capital to experience Mozambique's bush. The pristine and stunning wilderness scenery and birding are the main attractions. With luck, you may also see elephants and smaller wildlife. Children under 12 years old enter free. The fee for Mozambique-registered vehicles is Mtc300.

  • Sights in Zambia

    Kafue National Park

    Covering more than 22,500 sq km (8687 sq mi), this is the largest park in Zambia and one of the biggest in the world. With terrain ranging from the lush riverine forest of the Kafue River to the vast grassland of the Busanga Plains, the park rewards wildlife enthusiasts with glimpses of various carnivores and their nimble prey. This is the only major park in Zambia that’s easily accessible by public transport, with a handful of camps just off the highway. Kafue is classic wildlife country. Staying a few days here will allow you to explore different habitats and to experience the great diversity of wildlife that this beautiful park has to offer. The main road between Lusaka and Mongu runs through the park, which divides it into northern and southern sectors. In the northern sector, the Kafue River and its main tributaries – the Lufupa and Lunga – are fantastic for boat rides to see hippos in great grunting profusion, as well as crocodiles. This area is one of the best places in Zambia (maybe even in Africa) to see leopards – they are regularly spotted on night drives. To the far north is Kafue’s top highlight, the Busanga Plains, a vast tract of Serengeti-style grassland (note that this area is accessible only between mid-July and November.) Attracted by rich pickings, lions (which climb the local sycamore figs to keep cool and away from the flies, and swim through deep pools in the swamps during the wet season) and hyenas are plentiful, and during the dry season there are buffaloes, zebras and wildebeest herds. Cheetahs are also around, as well as wild dogs. In the southern sector of the park, the vegetation is more dense, and early in the season the grass is very high, making animals harder to locate, although the thick woodland around Ngoma is the best place to see elephants. Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, a vast expanse of water, is both tranquil and beautiful. In the far south, the Nanzhila Plains support an abundance of red lechwe among other antelope species. Large buffalo herds are sometimes seen, and there are lions and leopards to see. The southern sector is less visited (not that the north is crowded); you’re unlikely to see another vehicle all day. For birdlovers, Kafue is a dream; the wide range of habitats means that over 500 species have been recorded. There are several gates, but the main ones are: Nalusanga Gate, along the eastern boundary, for the northern sector; Dundumwezi for the southern sector if coming from Livingstone or Choma; Kabanga Gate if visiting the north and Tateyoyo Gate for either sector if you’re coming from the west.

  • Sights in Zambia

    Lower Zambezi National Park

    One of the country’s premier wildlife viewing areas, the Lower Zambezi National Park covers a large stretch of wilderness area along the northeastern bank of the Zambezi River. The best wildlife viewing is on the flood plain and along the river itself. Mammal species include puku, impala, zebra, buffalo, bushbuck, leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog, and more than 400 bird species have been recorded. The best time to visit is May to October. The main entrance is at Chongwe Gate along the southwestern boundary. The southwestern sector of the park is the easiest to reach and the most scenic, and has excellent wildlife viewing, so as you might expect, it’s a popular area. As you go further into the central part of the park the surroundings become wilder and more open and there’s more chance of having the place to yourself. Although the park is technically open all year, access is impossible in the rainy season and most lodges are closed down from at least mid-December to the end of February. Several smaller rivers flow through the park, which is centered around a beautiful flood plain alongside the mighty Zambezi, itself home to several islands. Along the riverside grow the largest trees – jackleberry, mahogany and winterthorn. On the opposite bank, in Zimbabwe, is Mana Pools National Park, and together the parks constitute one of Africa’s finest wildlife areas.