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ZAMBIA: A NEW SAFARI DESTINATION
by Ted Cookson
Published in September 2005
Landlocked Zambia, situated in southeastern Africa north of Zimbabwe, takes its name from the Zambezi River. The Zambezi begins in northeastern Zambia and flows 1,550 miles to the Indian Ocean, forming Zambia's southern border. There, lying astride Zambia and Zimbabwe, lies Victoria Falls, one of Africa's most beautiful and best-known sights.
Zambia was inhabited in prehistoric times. Bantu tribes invaded from the sixteenth century onward. They were followed by Arab slave traders, the Portuguese and other African tribes in the nineteenth century. David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls in 1855. Britain took formal control in 1924 and ruled what was then called Northern Rhodesia until independence in 1964.
As large as France, much of Zambia is a plateau lying at an altitude of 3,000 to 7,000 feet. Zambia's economy is based on copper and cobalt mining. Its capital, Lusaka, was a mere railway station as late as 1905. Today, although it boasts a population of over 1.5 million and has a pleasant climate year-round, Lusaka offers little to international safari enthusiasts who typically use it only as a jumping-off point. Instead, much smaller Livingstone, near Victoria Falls, is considered Zambia's major tourist town.
Zambia has set aside one-third of its territory for the preservation of wildlife through the creation of 19 national parks. A safari in Zambia is different from a safari in East Africa because game walks and night game drives are both permitted in Zambia. Also, the safari vehicle in Zambia is usually open-air rather than a closed van with a pop-up roof as in East Africa. Zambia's four primary tourist attractions are the Luangwa Valley, Kafue National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park and Victoria Falls.
The superb Luangwa Valley, which stretches across the entire length of eastern Zambia, is noted for its rocky escarpments and for the wide, muddy Luangwa River. The combined North and South Luangwa National Parks constitute a vast sanctuary of 3,500 square miles where game is truly abundant. Thornicroft's giraffe is indigenous to South Luangwa, and small herds of Cookson's wildebeest are unique to this park. There is a large concentration of elephant, and black rhino is found in large numbers. In addition to 50 other species of mammals, leopard, lion, hyena and hippo are common; and over 400 bird species have been recorded. North Luangwa National Park is managed as a wilderness area. Yet even in South Luangwa National Park the effects of mass tourism have not been seen. With its small camps and lodges, South Luangwa is one of Africa's premier wildlife destinations.
At roughly half the size of Switzerland, Kafue National Park is one of Africa's largest game reserves. Only a two-hour drive from Lusaka, Kafue is both diverse and well-endowed with game and birds. In fact, Kafue boasts more species of antelope than any other African game park. However, the animals are more difficult to view in Kafue since they are not as habituated to humans as are those animals in South Luangwa.
Lower Zambezi National Park extends for 75 miles along the Zambezi River opposite Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park. With permanent water, there is an abundance of elephant, buffalo and antelope. This in turn attracts lion, leopard and hyena. The Zambezi contains a multitude of fish. Tigerfish are especially popular with anglers. Also, bird life is prolific.
A visit to Victoria Falls can be combined with a safari in Zambia very easily. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls really must be seen to be believed. The Zambezi is more than 1,700 yards wide at the falls, where the water drops 100 yards or more into a narrow chasm. The resulting spray is so great that, when the moon shines, a lunar rainbow is created! Also, the area around Victoria Falls has grown into southern Africa's adventure tourism capital. The activities on offer include white water rafting, canoeing, riverboarding, jet boats, boat cruises, bungee jumping, helicopter flights, microlighting, absailing, horse safaris and even elephant rides!
PRACTICALITIES AND SUGGESTIONS:
The best time to visit the excellent South Luangwa National Park is during the dry season, from June to October. Then the game is concentrated around the remaining water holes. Also, the grasses are shorter during the dry season, which makes wildlife viewing easier.
The best time to visit Victoria Falls is also from June to October. Then the water volume is not at its maximum so there is less mist to obscure the views. During morning and late afternoon the light is best for photography, and don't forget your polarizing filter to capture the rainbows!
Currently the least expensive total round trip airfare on Kenya Airways from Cairo to Lusaka via Nairobi is approximately EGP 4,345. For this fare the minimum stay is six nights and the maximum stay is 30 nights.
ABOUT TED COOKSON: Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been to every country in the world! He has also visited 307 of the 315 destinations on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club). A travel agent in Cairo since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4 Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi. Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open 7 days a week 9 AM-5 PM) at: Tels. 2359-0200, 2358-5880, 2359-1301. Fax 2359-1199. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site: www.eptours.com.
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