The Lower Zambezi National Park lies on the north bank of the Zambezi River in south-eastern Zambia. The park was established as a national park in 1983, prior to this the area was the private game reserve of Zambia’s president.
The Lower Zambezi is without doubt one of Africa’s most beautiful parks. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big Zambia parks but the opportunities to get close to the meandering game are remarkable and you can spot four of the big five (rhino absent) making the park a great wildlife destination. The Lower Zambezi National Park covers a large stretch of wilderness area along the north-eastern bank of the Zambezi River, on the opposite bank, in Zimbabwe, is Mana Pools National Park, so the whole area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
One attraction of the Lower Zambezi park is its remote location. Here, you are very unlikely to encounter another tourist while travelling around the park. Tourist numbers are minimized due to the park being inaccessible by road. Most tourists fly in from either Livingstone or Lusaka and some arrive by boat on the Zambezi.
The park boasts excellent guiding which makes the safari experience so much greater. Here you can take great night drives, walking and boat safaris. Most safari lodges offer two activities a day, one in the early morning, the second in the late afternoon.
The real attraction is canoeing on the Zambezi. You can take short canoe excursions or embark on canoe trips which last for several days. Canoeing along the Zambezi is a unique opportunity to see such variety and sheer numbers of animals from such a vantage point. You will struggle to find such an experience anywhere else in the world.
If you’re an angler you will certainly want to fish in the park. Here you can try your luck at tiger fishing. The razor-toothed tigerfish is pound-for-pound one of the world’s most powerful freshwater species; providing a real challenge for any fisherman. If you are coming for the fish, the best months for tiger fishing are from June to August.
Note: all fishing here is on a catch-and-release basis
The park has strong populations of buffalo and elephant; visitors often see them grazing on the islands in the middle of the river as they move between Zimbabwe and Zambia. In the river, you will also see crocodile, hippo and water monitor lizard. Antelope is a mainstay of national parks across Africa, this is no different at the Lower Zambezi National Park. There are large herds of impala, kudu, eland wildebeest, bushbuck and waterbuck. There are also good populations of zebra but no giraffe (nor have there ever been).
Large numbers of antelope attract predators. The major predators in the Lower Zambezi are lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Sightings of wild dogs are not unheard of although they tend to be infrequent.
Other mammals include the Samango monkey and nocturnal species such as porcupine, civet, genet and the honey badger.
The Dry season runs from May to November, and it’s the best time for wildlife viewing in Lower Zambezi. Animals gather at the river, and the bush is thinner which makes spotting wildlife easier. Prime viewing time is between July and October.
The birdlife in the park is exceptional, making it a top destination for birders. 378 species have been recorded, including many species of eagle, heron, stork and bee-eater. Along the cliffs, you will see white-fronted and carmine bee-eaters nesting.
Other notable species include red-winged pratincole, crested guinea fowl, black eagle, the trumpeter, hornbill, Meyers parrot and Lilian’s lovebird and of course plenty of fish eagles.
The best time for bird watching is during the wetter months, from November to April, when migrants swoop in, and many birds are in breeding plumage.
The Lower Zambezi National Park offers a different game viewing experience to other Zambian national parks so it is well worth a visit and should be high on your list of must-visit Zambia destinations.