Peering over the edge of Victoria Falls, I saw a double rainbow dipping 300 feet down into the steep gorge. I was cautiously treading water in “Devil’s Pool”, watching the powerful Zambezi River spread out into a 6,000 ft wide curtain of water, then plummet over one of the world’s seven wonders!
Landlocked in south-central Africa, Zambia is in the heart of the continent offering an abundance of wildlife with 19 national parks, a vibrant culture, and is home to Victoria Falls. The Zambezi River, considered one of Africa’s largest rivers, carves its way between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Unique bird species attract birders to the tropical north of Lake Tanganyika.
One of Africa’s best kept secrets, our guide said, “Zambia is still Africa undiscovered with a timeless sense of wilderness. It’s here where the walking safari originated and where you can see ‘Real Africa’.” Dr. David Livingstone, discovered Victoria Falls in 1855, and commented on its wild beauty, “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” He loved the nature surrounding Zambia, and expressed this in statements like this, “Commend me to the merry midnight frogs.”
With the help of Wilderness Safaris suggestions, here are 6 Things to Do while traveling in Zambia:
- Game Drives: Game drives offer sightings of general game species such as elephant, buffalo, giraffe and white rhino. There is also rich birdlife, including sought-after species such as half-collared kingfisher and Schalow’s turaco.
- Walking Safari: Experience Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on foot – a remarkable way to enjoy the small wonders of the Park and to view general game, such as zebra, impala and wildebeest.
- River Safari: Whether a relaxing sunset cruise or a game viewing cruise, there are scenic views and exciting wildlife to be enjoyed from the comfort of a spacious boat. There’s always an abundance of hippo and crocodile, as well as a few other surprises along the way.
- Victoria Falls: This World Heritage Site straddles the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and is the most expansive curtain of water in the world. View its roaring waters, spectacular spray and a small rainforest that clings to the Falls’ edge, with a variety of mammals and birds.
Or you can choose from a variety of adrenaline-packed activities around the falls – helicopter flights, bungee jumping, micro-lighting, canoeing, jet boating and white water rafting. Click here to learn more about Victoria Falls Big Air Experience! “Mosi-oa-Tunya”, is the local name for the falls, meaning “the Smoke that Thunders,” and describes the huge spirals of spray that can be seen up to 20 miles away.
5. Visit Livingstone: Learn about the town’s history at the local museum, pick up some souvenirs from the local markets and shops.
6. Visit a Local Village: We visited Sinde Village and delivered soccer balls and jump ropes to the children. You can also visit a school to learn about the people and culture in this part of Zambia.
Where to Stay?
There are two wonderful lodges in ideal locations near Livingstone that we highly recommend.
Toka Leya – Situated in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, and only 8 miles from Victoria Falls, Toka Leya Camp is a comfortable base to explore the area. We stayed in one of the safari-style tents (en-suite with bathroom and wonderful outdoor shower). We had a deck to enjoy the expansive views of the swift-flowing Zambezi River and several surrounding islands.
There’s plenty of room to relax – the dining, lounge, bar areas, and our favourite – the infinity pool! Meals are served under a canopy of trees on the sundeck, the pool deck and dining room, all overlooking the Zambezi. Be sure to order pizza – the lodge has a pizza oven! Keep a lookout for the occasional hippo, crocodile and elephant that are regularly seen in or near the camp.
When we checked into Toka Leya, we were told that, “The Toka Leya Camp gets its name from Toka (Batoka), who inhabit the western plateau areas north of the river, and the Leya (Baleya), a small group located near modern-day Livingstone. They speak dialects of the Tonga language. The Leya were divided under two chiefdoms, with the hereditary titles of Chief Mukuni and Chief Sekute.”
The River Club – The River Club is steeped in history and brimming with romance! Located about 12 miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, this charming retreat is a restored 1940’s homestead with 11 chalets. The main building has a comfortable lounge, dining room, library, and veranda that open up to spectacular views of the Zambezi River. The meals are excellent and you can dine from the veranda, dining room, or in the lush gardens beneath the trees.
To cool off from the heat of the day, we took a dip into the infinite pool that overlooks the Zambezi, and watched a pod of hippos. The River Club also offers croquet, tennis, or gardens to stroll and a gazebo where you can find a quiet place to read. Relaxing sunset cruises along the Zambezi offer the perfect opportunity to spot a variety of birdlife, as well as plenty of hippo and crocodile in the river.
By Patricia Stone, a travel writer and consultant
Acknowledgements: we would like to thank Wilderness Safaris and ATI Holidays for helping us plan our visit to Zambia.
For more information on Zambia, visit: www.zambiatourism.com
More information on Wilderness Safaris:
Wilderness Safaris is an African ecotourism company dedicated to responsible tourism throughout the areas in which it operates in Africa.
Their vision? A wilderness that inspires positive action.
Their goal? To share wild areas with guests from all over the world, while at the same time help to ensure the future protection of Africa’s spectacular wildlife heritage and sharing the benefits of tourism with local communities.
They operate camps and safaris in 9 different countries: Botswana, Congo (Brazzaville), Kenya, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Seychelles. Their wildlife, marine and cultural safaris in remote and pristine wilderness destinations are customized, educational, explorative, and fun!
They operate on more than 8 million acres of Africa’s best wildlife and wilderness reserves. The idea of space to breathe – the wilderness experience – is what makes them unique and special.
Wilderness Safaris Mission Statement:
v We exist as we believe that the world’s wilderness areas will save humankind.
v Our aim is to get to understand the wilderness better, to respect it, care for it and share it.
v Our quest is to offer our guests the most original journeys and experiences.
v Our promise is the very best in client service and guest experience.