The Lower Zambezi is Zambia’s newest reserve and is still relatively undeveloped. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to wildlife wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary. Besides walking and day and night game drives, boating safaris and canoeing provide a popular wildlife viewing platform here along with Tiger fishing.
The park covers 2,500 square miles (4,000 sq. kilometers), but most of the wildlife is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the parks animal species. Enormous herds of elephants numbering up to 100 are often seen at the rivers edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard.
The valley floor, although a small area is host to many of the bigger mammals, elephant, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, and crocodiles, impala and warthog. Occasionally roan, eland and the Samango monkey. Nocturnal animals here are hyena, porcupine, civet, genet and honey badger. The birdlife along the riverbanks is exceptional. Many a fish eagle can be seen and heard for miles around. Another unusual the red winged pratincole, the elegant crested guinea fowl, black eagle, and vast swarms of quelea. In summer the stunning narina trogon makes its home here. Other specialties are the trumpeter hornbill and Meyers parrot.
WHEN TO GO: The best time is mid season from June to September, but all lodges and canoeing operators are open from April to November. Fishing is at its best in September / October.
Park Size: 2,500 square miles – 4,000 sq. kilometers
Ecosystems: Zambezi River, riverine forest, acacia forest, open flood plains
Wildlife: elephant, hippo, buffalo, kudu, zebra, impala, bushbuck, duiker, klipspringer, lion, leopard, hyenas, African wild dog, serval, civet, genet, aardvark, chac-ma baboon and vervet and blue monkeys. Birds – fish eagle, red winged pratincole, black eagle
When to go: May through October – most camps closed during rest of year.
Highlights: Game drives in open 4×4, night game drives, walking safaris, boating safaris, mokoro, canoeing, fishing