Man canoeing on Zambezi River near elephant.

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

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.