Zambia is a 752,617 km2 (290,587 sq. mi) landlocked country in Southern Africa, with a tropical climate, and consists mostly of high plateaus with some hills and mountains, dissected by river valleys. It is closer to the equator, hence relatively higher rainfall, implying numerous ecosystems ranging from forest, thicket, woodland and grassland vegetation types. This results in higher flora and fauna diversity. It has 73 ethnic groups meaning great cultural diversity within its borders. A total of 242 mammalian species have been recorded. Around 757 bird species have been recorded, of which 600 are either resident or Afrotropic migrants. 470 species are known to breed within Zambian borders and 100 are non-breeding migrants. Comprehensively, Zambia is a top destination to enjoy landscape, culture and wildlife.
The main Highlights of the country includes:
Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky”, which is a perfect description of this extraordinary community-owned protected wetland in north-eastern Zambia. Covering a total surface area of 9 850 km2 (3 800 sq. mi), the area is a designated RAMSAR site (Wetlands of International Importance) and also an Important Bird Area. Between 50 000 and 90 000 people live in villages around this area and they livelihoods are dependent on it. The area is an example of a wildlife conservation success story because human/wildlife conflict has been contained by African Parks organization by involving locals in management programs. Various mammals found here include Cape Buffalo, Plains Zebra, Bushbuck, Tsessebe, Elephant, Hippopotamus, Hyeana, Side-striped Jackal, Oribi, Reedbuck, Roan and Sable Antelope, Sitatunga among others. Bangweulu has the only remaining significant population of the Black Lechwe which are estimated to be around 36 000. The wetlands host more than 400 bird species, but most notably the Shoebill. Activities here include walking safaris, game drives and canoeing (depends on water levels).
Kasanga National Park
Covering a mere surface area of 390 km2 (150 sq. mi), the Kasanga National Park is one of Zambia’s small parks. Ironically it boasts of 114 mammalian species and over 470 bird species. Although it is part of the Greater Bangweulu Ecosystem, there is no direct hydrological connection between the park and the Bangweulu Wetlands. The park is renowned for having the largest mammal migration in the world, particularly when approximately ten million African Straw-coloured Fruit Bats migrate to the Mushitu swamp evergreen forest in the park for three months during October to December. Mammals here include Puku, Kinda Baboon, shy and elusive Sitatunga, rare Blue Monkey, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Defassa Waterbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, Yellow-backed Duiker, Moloney’s Monkey, several species of Mongoose (Slender, Dwarf, Water and White-tailed Mongoose), the rare Meller’s Mongoose, Caracal, Leopard, among others. Special birds include Ross’s Turaco, Bohm’s Bee-eater, Marsh Tchagra, Fulleborn’s Longclaw among others. Activities here include Walking Safaris, Birding, Game drives, Fishing, Canoeing and Cycling.
South and North Luangwa National Parks
The South Luangwa covers a surface area of 9 050 km2 (3 490 sq. mi) and its famous for the evolution of walking safaris. It has 2 eco-regions, the Miombo woodlands and the Zambezian and Mopane woodlands. Patches of grasslands and floodplains are found within these woodlands. This habitat up to 60 mammal species and over 400 bird species. It is renowned for having one of the highest density of Leopard in Africa. There is a huge diversity of mammals, flagship species being the Cookson’s Wildebeest and Crawshay’s Zebra which are endemic or near-endemic to the area. Previously referred to as the Thornicroft’s Giraffe, a subspecies of the Masai Giraffe; the Luangwa Giraffe (Giraffa t. thornicrofti) is also special to this area. The area is also a top birding spot. Activities include Guided Walking Safaris, Game drives, Night Drives, Mobile Walking Safaris, Birding Safaris, Boat Safaris and a Cultural Tour in the Kawaza Village to see the Kunda Tribe. South Luangwa does not have the Black Rhino whereas North Luangwa has.
Kafue National Park
Stretching over 3 provinces in Zambia, Kafue National Park covers a surface area of 22 400 km2 (8 600 sq. mi). Most of the park is covered with semi-deciduous forests, marshy grasslands and open grasslands. The Busanga plains in the northwestern side of the park has large herds of herbivores hence predators as well, special one being tree climbing Lions. The Busanga plains does get affected by wildfires from time to time( Wetland fire ecology and post-fire plant interaction in the Busanga plains (Zambia) | Previous Tsvigu – Academia.edu) . A 152 mammal species and over 480 bird species have been recorded here. Four of the Big Five mammals occur here, missing the Rhino but Cheetah comes in as a bonus. Special birds include Black-cheeked Lovebird and Zambian Barbet. Activities include game drives, guided safari walks, night drives and boat safaris.
Liuwa Plains National Park
This is remote park in the far west is pristine wilderness, completely natural and uncommercialised. Covering a surface area of 3 369 km2 (1 301 sq. mi), the habitat is mainly grasslands that support a variety of large mammals, including tens of thousands of blue wildebeest, whose annual migration is Africa’s second-largest. Various mammals and birds occur in this area, but what makes it special is that it is less visited part of the country. Over 330 bird species are found here and includes specials like Black Coucal, Black-winged Pratincole, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Denham’s bustard, Palm-nut Vulture, Sharp-tailed Starling, Sooty Chat, White-bellied Bustard among others. Activities include Game drives, Walking Safaris and Canoe Safaris.
Mosi-oa-Tunya and Livingstone
This is Zambia’s smallest National Park as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It covers a surface area of 66 km2 (25 sq mi) and rich in wildlife found along the Zambezi River. This small sanctuary has man-made boundaries and is the only wildlife area with White Rhino in Zambia. In addition to the migratory Elephants, wildlife including White Rhino, Southern Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Waterbuck, Common Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Bushbuck, Warthog, Vervet Monkey, Chacma Baboon, Hippo and Nile Crocodile are residents in the park year round. Situated in a Riverine habitat, this area is a birders’ paradise. A range of activities are available including a visit to the Victoria Falls, Helicopter Tours, Bungee Jumping, Zambezi Sunset Dinner Cruise, Victoria Falls Gorge Swing, Chobe National Park Day Trip, White water Rafting, Game Drive among others.
Lower Zambezi National Park
Covering a surface area of 4 092 km2 (1 580 sq. mi), the Lower Zambezi National Park is one the most undeveloped and wilderness area in Zambia. This park is renowned for both its array and abundance of wildlife species as well as its remoteness which creates a true African adventure. The park is isolated along the Zambezi River with no real road access. Visitors must take a small plane or a boat up the Zambezi River to reach the park area. Among other common antelopes, Elephants, Hippos and Giraffes are quite abundant in the area and also accompanied by Lion, Leopard and African Wild dog. More than 350 bird species have been recorded in Lower Zambezi National Park, making it a top destination for birders. Activities here include Game Drive, Walking Safaris, Canoeing, Fishing and Cultural Tours to Goba Villages.