The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Zambia is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka. Zambia has two major river basins, the Zambezi/Kafue basin which covers about three-quarters of the country and the Congo basin in the north covering about one-quarter of the country. A very small area in the northeast forms part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Rukwa in Tanzania. In the Zambezi basin, there are a number of major rivers flowing wholly or partially through Zambia
Must see destinations in Zambia:
The Victoria Falls - The Victoria Falls lie in between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. The falls are part of two national parks, Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. This incredible amount of water generates a huge amount of spray which shoots 1000 feet into the sky and can be seen 30 miles away and is called Mosi-oa-Tunya the Smoke that thunders. The best time to view the Victoria Falls is during the rainy season from March to May, when they are at their most impressive. I would recommend visiting the falls from both sides Zambia and Zimbabwe. There is a border post you can cross quite easily and day passes are given out so you don't need to get a visa in advance. If you are at the falls during the dry season (September to December) you must go to the Zimbabwean side to see the Falls properly, since the Zambian side can be totally dried up to a trickle. Activities at the Victoria Falls include Flights over the Victoria Falls if you are more adventurous you can opt for a micro light flight. You can take a boat cruise to Livingstone Island on the Zambian side which has some of the best views of the falls. You can swim in a natural rock pool on the edge of the Falls, the Devil's Pool during the dry season. Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, jet boat rides, rafting down the rapids of the Zambezi River and sunset cruises are a popular pastime in this part of the world. Wildlife can also be seen in the vicinity of the Victoria Falls on both sides. Baboons and warthogs are very common. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia) is small but has white rhinos, buffaloes, elephants and giraffe. Elephant safaris and a walking with lions are also possible.
South Luangwa National Park -The South Luangwa National Park is situated in eastern Zambia. It is the southernmost of three national parks the Luangwa River valley and is world-renowned as a wildlife haven. The park supports large herds of elephant and buffaloes often several hundred strong as well as a large population of Thorneycroft’s Giraffe. The Luangwa River is also home to a large population of crocodiles and hippopotamuses. It is one of the best national parks in Africa for walking safaris. Established as a national park in 1972 it covers 9,050 km².
Kafue National Park - Another super game viewing destination in Zambia is the Kafue National Park. Covering an area of about 22,400 km² Kafue is about the same size as Wales. It is the second largest park in Africa and hosts over 55 different species of animals. The park is named after the Kafue River and it stretches over three provinces, North Western, Central and Southern. The geography varies considerably throughout the park, the permanent Kafue River follows a well-defined course, and widens in a few places where barriers of harder rocks near the surface force it into shallow, rocky rapids. The park is surrounded by eight game management areas which provide a valuable buffer zone for the park's wildlife. Kafue has a superb range of antelope, but you will have to travel throughout the park if you wish to see them all. It's possible to visit and see large herds of red lechwe and puku, with smaller groups of zebra and blue wildebeest in the Busanga Plains around June, when it starts to dry out. In the northern half of the park there is a range of mixed bush environments and kudu, bushbuck, eland, reedbuck, common duiker, grysbok and defassa waterbuck are commonly found. Lion are relatively widespread all over the park, but the larger males are scarce. Leopards are found in the main forested areas of the park but are seldom seen on the open plains. Spotted hyenas are seen throughout the park. Cheetahs are found in the north of the park, where they seem to be thriving. Wild dogs occur all over the park which is one of Zambia's best strongholds for them. The birding in Kafue is very good. With about 495 species the park has probably the richest birdlife of any Zambian park.
Although Zambia is situated squarely in the tropics, its elevated position does ensure that there are distinct seasons that run as follows:
September to November which is the hot season and temperatures can reach up to 38-42°C. This period is known for clouds of swirling dust that can make driving on dirt roads dangerous. If heat doesn’t worry you, it's a good time for safaris as the wildlife congregate around the few remaining watering holes.
December to April Rainy season — Temperatures cool down considerably (about 32°C) with high rainfall which can vary between shorter showers of just an hour or two or rain for days on end. Gravel roads become impassable muddy nightmares, and many safari lodges close for business during this time of year.
May to August is dry season and is the coolest time of the year with temperatures 24-28°C during the day and it can drop as low as 7°C at night.
The best time of the year to visit Zambia - May to August is probably the best time of year to visit Zambia. Early in the dry season is excellent for bird watching or to experience the Victoria Falls at their most spectacular. Later on in dry season when the bush has dried up is very for good game viewing on safari. Temperatures fluctuate based on the altitude, down in the valleys such as the Zambezi it will be warmer but higher up like Kasama it will tend to be cooler.
Zambia is one of the best places to experience the real Africa. Zambia has many wonderful national parks and also shares the Victoria Falls one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders with Zimbabwe. Zambia however does not possess the quality infrastructure of countries like South Africa and in that sense it is not as tourist-friendly. Visitors looking for a tourist destination with a westernized infrastructure should look elsewhere. If you are however willing to keep an open mind and accept that services like roads and telecommunications and power won’t be up to first world standards, the beauty of the country and the friendly people will more than make up for the lack of tourist infrastructure.
Population of Zambia - Most Zambians belong to the nine main ethnic groups each with its own language. The different tribes, the Nyanja-Chewa, Bemba, Tonga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya and Lozi who love in rural areas are each concentrated in particular geographic regions of the country. All the ethnic groups can be found in significant numbers in Lusaka and the Copper belt.
Languages of Zambia - The official language of Zambia is English and it is the official business language and medium of instruction in schools. The main local language, especially in Lusaka, is Nyanja, but Bemba and other indigenous languages are spoken in the urban areas as well. The total number of languages spoken in Zambia is 73.
Visa & Passport requirements for Zambia – To enter or exit Zambia you must hold tickets for return or onward travel, sufficient funds for stay and your passport must be valid for three months beyond the date of entry, a visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Visas are available Zambia Embassies. Travellers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia.
Currency of Zambia - The Zambian currency is the Kwatcha. New regulations published recently in Zambia regulate the use of foreign currencies within the country. It will now be necessary to conduct all domestic transactions in the local currency Kwatcha. At this stage visas can still be paid in forex on arrival. However airport taxes (for flights between Zambian centres like Livingstone to Mfuwe) must be paid in kwatcha. There are ATMs at all the airports where foreign cards are able to draw local currency. Guests can still pay for extras at their lodges by credit card. Most of the ATM's accept only VISA. Other international credit cards (like MASTERCARD and AMEX) are generally a problem.
Vaccination requirements for Zambia - Zambia is a malaria area. It is advised that you consult a doctor and anti-malaria prophylactic medication before your arrival. When in Zambia it will help if you cover up with trousers and long sleeve shirts and sleep under a mosquito net after dark. Malaria medication and pregnancy don’t go together. If you are planning a family vacation please discuss a malaria medication that is suitable, with your doctor. Yellow fever injections are required by South Africans and all other travellers who are returning to South Africa from Zambia even if only in transit. You are responsible for your own travel and medical insurance. Please insure fully for emergency evacuation, medical, curtailment and repatriation.
Getting there – Lusaka is Zambia’s main port of entry and has direct flights to London on British Airways and good regional connections. Livingstone situated at the Victoria Falls, and Mfuwe, near South Luangwa National Park, have small international airports serving regional destinations. Livingstone International Airport has daily direct flights from Johannesburg and direct flights from Cape Town to Livingstone are also now available. There are also direct flights from Nelspruit/Kruger to Livingstone on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.