Known as Northern Rhodesia from the late 19th century until gaining independence from Britain in 1964, Zambia is home to 13 million people, including more than 70 tribes. The discovery of copper deposits during Britain’s colonization of the area in 1895, led to the metal quickly becoming not only Zambia’s most lucrative export, but a single crutch upon which the country’s entire economy continues to lean with all its weight. Today, its agriculture and tourism industries represent beacons of hope as modern-day Zambia works towards ensuring stability by way of economic diversification.
The only place on earth where you can find Rhodesian giraffes and Kafue Lechwe, Zambia’s woodlands, grasslands, and forests contain more than 12,000 plant and animal species. And in addition to its diverse wildlife, well-preserved remnants of its 19th-century British colonial roots and their enduring social impacts—especially visible in Livingstone—make Zambia an ideal destination for those looking to explore African nature, culture, and history.
Most Popular Films
Films featuring Zambia from international, independent filmmakers
Travelogue: Zambia 1948
Watch this vintage 16mm footage of a Zulu tribe taken in 1948 by two adventurous film enthusiasts in what is now Zambia.Produced by David Conover & Paul Villanova
Soak in the beauty of Victoria Falls in this film illuminating the wildlife, scenery, and outdoor adventures that attract thrill-seeking visitors.Produced by Tom Varley
Wildlife of Southern Africa
Let the wildlife and scenery of Southern Africa captivate you in this 2-minute film showcasing the natural rhythm of life out in the open plains.Produced by Rudi Zisterer
Zambia Interactive Map
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*Destinations shown on this map are approximations of exact locations
Immerse yourself in Zambia with this selection of articles, recipes, and more
Did you know you can discover Africa’s wilderness without the use of a vehicle? Consider a walking safari.
Learn how to snap wildlife photos like a pro with a few expert tips from Photo Editor Greg Palmer.
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Days in Zambia
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Find the Adventure That’s Right for You
Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.
Activity Level 1:
Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 2:
Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 3:
Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
Activity Level 4:
Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Activity Level 5:
Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.
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Walking in the Wild
Exploring southern Africa on foot
by Philip McCluskey, from Dispatches
When many people picture a safari, they see themselves in a rugged four-wheel-drive vehicle, rumbling across the savannah. While this is a dominant—and fascinating—part of most great African adventures, some regions offer another way to discover this prodigious wilderness: the walking safari.
First developed in Zambia and primarily offered in southern Africa, walking safaris offer a completely different experience than their vehicular counterpart. There is something about feeling your feet thump against the earth in this timeless place that brings you closer to its beauty and its wildness. You feel as though you’re not simply viewing the wildlife; you’re entering their world.
Safari guides are experts at tracking animals—after all, they’ve spent years studying and exploring the bush to learn its secrets. Experienced guide Robson Zimbudzi of O.A.T. has some things you can keep in mind.
The most important first step, of course, is finding the right sites to explore. “First, we choose places that are open, so that we can see animals from a distance,” says Robson. “Before starting the walk, some guides will throw ashes in the air to determine the wind direction. That way, if they see an animal, they’ll know which direction to walk so that the animal won’t pick up their scent.”
Once out in the bush, tracking skills become vital in spotting wildlife. And while it might not be the sexiest way to track, animal droppings are certainly one of the most common ways to do so. “We look at the animal droppings on the ground to know which animals have been in the area,” Robson says. “We joke that this is called the ‘bush newspaper.’”
There are a number of things a guide can tell from the “newspaper”: “We can tell whether certain droppings were made by a male or female,” says Robson. “We can tell whether they came from a kudu or an impala, and how long ago the droppings were left.” Droppings can also indicate the age of an animal. As elephants age, for example, their molars wear out, and they are increasingly unable to fully break down plant matter. This results in more fibrous droppings.
Tracks are another great way to find some fascinating creatures in the wilds of southern Africa. If the tracks are clear enough, you can use their size and shape to get a better idea of what species left the mark. “The freshness of the track helps us determine how close the animal is to those footprints,” says Robson.
Wildlife doesn’t need to be moving to leave a trace, however. In areas of shelter (under trees or in shallow caves), you may even see makeshift beds where larger mammals have slept (known as “lays”). If you do, taking note of the shape of the lay may give some indication of which animal slept there.
Another great facet of a walking safari is seeing the more diminutive denizens of the bush. “The famous ‘Little Five’ are the rhino beetle, red-billed buffalo weaver, the ant lion, the elephant shrew, and the leopard tortoise,” says Robson. So named because they mirror (in part) the names of the Big Five, these tiny creatures are a hit on walking safaris—but it’s hard to see them all at once. “The ant lion, elephant shrew, and red-billed buffalo weaver can be seen on a walk throughout the year,” Robson says. “The rhino beetle can only be seen in the wet season, though, and the leopard tortoise can be seen in summer. They hibernate in the cold season.”
The big animals, of course, are still the most memorable. “I remember going on a morning walking safari, and seeing very fresh tracks of elephants,” says Robson. “Within a few seconds, we heard the unmistakable sound of twigs breaking. It was a breeding herd of elephants. We were able to watch it from a distance.”
When you’re out on a walking safari, every new step seems to offer an opportunity for new discoveries like this. And all you have to do is lace up your hiking boots, keep your eyes open, and enjoy the thrill of walking in a wild and wonderful place.
Exploring southern Africa on foot
Behind the Lens: On Safari
3 tips to enhance your wildlife photography
by Amanda Morrison and Greg Palmer
In September of 2014, Photo Editor Greg Palmer set off for Ultimate Africa for a 3-week photo shoot. Below, he shares 3 tips you can’t leave home without if you’re the kind of traveler who always packs your camera.
1. “Don’t even think about going on safari without a 400mm lens”
One of the challenges of wildlife photography is that approaching your subject can be dangerous. But you can maintain a safe distance by simply zooming in with this lens. And don’t worry so much about the body of the camera—it’s all about the glass.
2. “Compose in camera”
The best travel photos capture the essence of a destination, and to achieve that in the wild, it can help to think of this formula: animal + habitat. It’s about giving your subject context. In the photo above, that leopard had been resting in the shade, and here he is emerging, intense and unblinking as sunlight bathes his face. His expression is totally fierce on its own, but you can really feel his ferocity against that backdrop of brambles and shadows.
3. “Apply the rule of thirds”
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick summary: If you were to divide a photograph into boxes, 3x3, like tic-tac-toe, your main focus should fall on one of those points where the lines intersect. It’s more aesthetically pleasing when your subject isn’t centered.
“Learn your camera before you leave—not while you’re on your trip”
Sometimes the simplest advice is the easiest to ignore. But when you’re ten feet away from that leopard, knowing how to adjust your lens can be the difference between a decent photo and a great one.