The Lower Zambezi National Park is located in the extreme south of Zambia, along an alluvial plain where the Zambezi River flows, between acacia and miombo woods. It is not one of the most famous African national parks but it is certainly among the most beautiful. A safari in this park offers many fascinating scenarios and interesting encounters – with animals, people and situations. Together with the neighbouring park of Mana Pools, the Lower Zambezi forms a faunal niche unique in the world, the main reason for the tourist push of the place.
Lower Zambezi, an almost “intact” park
Until 1983, when it became a national park, the Lower Zambezi Park was a hunting reserve. First exclusive property of European settlers, later property of the president of Zambia who exploited it for a long time as a hunting reserve too. This kept it wild and intact until the 1980s, never “contaminated” by the crowds of mass tourism.
Today things have changed and everyone can visit the park. But even though access is open to the public, the rangers try to keep the nature inside as it was originally. So the rules for Lower Zambezi safaris are also strict and aim not to disturb the habitats of flora and fauna in any way.
What to see in the Lower Zambezi
Deriving from a hunting reserve, the Lower Zambezi Park does not have a great variety of animals: for example, giraffes are completely absent here and there are few elephants (in the process of restocking) and lions. However, there are large populations of cheetah, impala, zebra, buffalo, and birds. There are over 400 different species of birds, including many aquatic predators that have their habitat on the many lagoons and islets formed by the river. The funny African bird known as the “scissor beak” lives here.
The Zambezi River is also one of the park’s attractions. Dominated by thickets of ebony, fig, mopane and acacia, it flows between endless plains and hills. Most of the animals inhabit the plains, but specimens can also be found on the hills. The river and its nearby tributaries are perfect for activities such as canoeing, controlled fishing, bird watching but also for exploring on foot along the banks.
In the surroundings of the park you can also admire the Victoria Bridge which connects Zambia to Zimbabwe and leads tourists to the famous Victoria Falls; Lake Kariba which is home to a large population of hippos.
When to go and how to get to the park
The Lower Zambezi National Park should be visited between May and October, which is the dry season, when it is easier to go on jeep safaris. Given that in these months the river reduces the flow of water, the animals all gather in front of the few full pools and it is easy to admire them all together.
To reach the park you land at Lusaka airport and from there you move with internal air connections (up to the Royal runway) or directly with the tour operators and their land vehicles. Helicopter transfers can also be booked. The tour proposals also include boat safaris, canoe safaris, hiking and stakeouts so to admire birds or large predators.
Staying in the Lower Zambezi
You can stay both inside and in the immediate surroundings of the national park, with traditional-style or more modern western-style solutions. Indications for the best accommodations can be found AT THIS OFFICIAL LINK.