Linger in Lower Zambezi
Source: Cable & Grain
The Lower Zambezi National Park lies on the northern bank of the Zambezi River in southeastern Zambia, opposite Mana Pools National Park on the Zimbabwean side. There are no fences separating the two reserves, and animals such as elephants that don’t mind the swim, roam freely between between the two parks. The Lower Zambezi National Park was the private game reserve of the Zambian president until 1983, when it was declared a national park and opened to the public.
It is almost entirely inaccessible by road, with the exception of well-equipped 4x4s. This has proteced the park from the effects of mass tourism, and it remains one of Africa’s true wilderness areas.
The Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4 090km2, but most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. The sloping escarpment along the northern end acts as a physical barrier to most of the park’s animals. There are 2 distinct woodland eco-regions: the Miombo woodlands in the north, and the Mopane woodlands towards the south, with the floodplain habitat dominating the banks of the river.
The LZNP is a land of meandering river systems, palm trees, 1 000-year-old baobab trees that look like they were planted upside down, acacias, and Machiavellian strangler figs, mountains, wetlands and valleys. It has a raw beauty, and best of all is that you will usually experience it in solitude, with not ather visitor for miles around.
There are similar activities offered in the LZNP as there are in its slightly more decorated Zimbabwean neighbor. Excellent fishing, birding and game viewing – on foot, by canoe or vehicle – will not disappoint. You can spend your days following massive herds of elephant or wallowing pods of hippo.
If you are lucky, you may spot a lion or an elusive leopard, or even the highly endangered African wild dog, then return to camp for a well-deserved spa treatment and the obligatory gin and tonic. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! Remember that giraffe do not occur anywhere in this area, for reasons that are not well understood.
Because it caters almost exclusively for the fly-in market, the accommodation on the Zambian side is generally more luxurious. The guides and the lodge staff are warm and friendly, and nothing is ever too much trouble.
The dry season is the best time of year to visit, as the floodplain is generally impassable during the rains. Many of the lodges close completely over these months. As with most of the great reserves in Zambia, air travel is the easiest and fastest way to get around, and because of this you can conveniently hop from one destination to another.
However, do not fall into the trap of trying to squeeze too much into a short period of time. We guarantee that once you set foot in a place like the LZNP, you will not ever want to leave, so it is advisable to try and spend a minimum of 2 or 3 days in any one place.