You don’t realize how many awesome activities and places there are to see in Zambia so so so worth it, from free activities to all levels of expensive. After almost two years around Zambia I have been able to see and do a lot, and still not experienced all Zambia has to offer. However, the best thing is that I can share with you, as a first hand knowledge of what I felt and if they are actually worth it. There are so many things to do and if it is not mentioned, I have haven´t had the chance to do it or see it. I have experienced all of the below activities and places.
In Mfuwe – Eastern Zambia
South Luangwa National Park – The National Park with more leopards in the whole of Africa, so what more can I say 🙂 Totally worth it, and as a plus I highly recommend staying at Marula Lodge which was the best choice for us. They offer a range of different options for accommodation, catering and access to the National Park with guided game drives, and not to forget wild elephants and hippos casually visiting the lodge.
In Chingola, Northern Zambia
Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust – A chimpanzee sanctuary founded by Sheila and Dave Siddle in 1983. Accommodation is available in chalets, or there are places to pitch your tent. There is a kitchen available for self catering or with advance notice you can arrange catering. Chimfunshi is a very peaceful place to spend 2 days or a day visit. You can soak up the sunset on the banks of the Kafue River and enjoy some sun downers (drinks), meet the incredible founder and hear her stories of the early days, have awesome chats with the keepers and, of course, spend time with the chimpanzees. Note that Chingola is the closest town but it is still a 1 hour drive away, you can go with your own car or local buses.
In Livingstone, Southern Zambia
Victoria Falls – One of the natural seven wonders of the world, it is located half in Zambia and half in Zimbabwe. Both sides are beautiful and both worth visiting. It is the largest waterfall in the world with 2.000 million of liters of water flowing through it every minute. For me, it is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I have been in dry season, rainy season, between seasons,… more than 5 times for sure and never never get tired. Tip, do not enter with any kind of food as the wild baboons will steal it from you without hesitation. Other tip that not a lot of people know: if you stand on the bridge long enough looking down the water you will see the otters playing around ♥
There are cafes inside both Zambia and Zimbabwe sides where you can purchase snacks and drinks.
Livingstone Museum – If you are interested in David Livingstone history I would highly recommend a visit to the museum, they have a lot of displays and documentation about his life and travels. Very interesting.
Rhino walking safari in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park – There are only 12 white rhinos in Zambia and 11 are in Livingstone. Walking through the bush with the wildlife authorities to meet these gigantic creatures is such a unique and special activity. The Anti-Poaching Ranger´s guard the rhinos 24/7 to ensure their protection and no poachers are around. Also, if you haven’t done a walking safari I highly recommend it to you as you will have the real feeling of how little we are and vulnerable. Side note: they are not whiter than the black rhinos, the name comes from “wide” as they have a wide mouth-lip. You can arrange a safari or if you are on a budget and want more a personal experience you can go with your own car.
Cowboy bike tour – A guided bicycle tour exploring Livingstone, visiting a local school, a village and a market. Proceeds from the tour support the community school and it is the way the NGO raises money, so if you are in Livingstone and you like bike riding support this NGO and spend a good 4 hours seeing and learning with a local. Tip: you don´t have to be a super cyclist, a friends 70 year old mum did the ride in October the hottest month of the year.
Elephant Cafe – This one is a tricky one. They used to be offered elephant rides until it was classified as animal abuse and they retired those elephants from walks. Now, the elephants roam “free” and the only activity available is to feed them for about 15min and then they wander freely back to the bush while you enjoy a very delicious lunch. I am not a fan of these kind of activities where there is wildlife interaction with no education related on the activity. I would never have gone by myself even being in Livingstone more than 4 times, although my family came to visit and we went together and also good as you have to see to know what is happening. I got a weird feeling, although it is true that the interaction with them is such a short time, just to be able to give them few natural biscuits, and that they are in the bush happily roaming, the keepers were the same ones who trained them on rides and, also, and here is where the big thing is, there is no education at all. So they are not interested in make people know about the critical situation of elephants, pouching, learn more about the specie,… they just use them to attract people to the restaurant. So, it depends on you.
There is the option of a speed boat up the Zambezi or a bus transfer.
Sunset cruise and/or drinks at the Royal Livingstone – You have to soak up the magic of the Zambezi River, a well known African river by its quantity of crocodiles. The sun sets right over it and you will never get tired of these. If you want to feel the colonial spirit while enjoying the magic of the African sunset I would totally recommend to go to Royal Livingstone, a gorgeous colonial hotel on the Zambezi, for a sunset cocktail. It is the best place to see the sunset and the spray of the Victoria Falls at the same time. Of course this is my opinion, so in case you would like another kind of activity you can do a sunset cruise up the Zambezi River where you will see wildlife and all the drinks are included.
Bovu Island – Do you have some days off or have no activities planned? Escape to Bovu Island, a sand island surrounded by the Zambezi River. They will come and pick you up from Livingstone and after a car and traditional mokoro (handmade canoe) ride you will arrive to this little paradise. The perfect place to relax.
Helicopter or Micro-flight over Victoria Falls – This is an expensive activity but, if you can afford it, when again are you going to be on top of the largest waterfall of the world? Do it!!
Luna Rainbow – Victoria Falls is the only place in the world that the rainbow can be seen at night time due to the spray from the fall. Only on the full moons of summer the Victoria Falls opens its doors to this magical activity. Watch this wonderful sight and check the full moon days here.
Chobe National Park – You maybe wondering why is this activity here if it is done in Botswana and we are in Zambia? In fact the Kasane, Botswana border is less than an hours drive from Livingstone. Plus I totally recommend to arrange a safari to this beautiful National Park where you will find the largest population of elephants in Africa. The tour operators will come and pick you up from your accommodation, assist with the border crossing, and after an early breakfast you will be in the National Park. Don’t hesitate you won’t regret it! As a recommendation we did our camping safari with Kalahari Tours, and chose the 2 day overnight camping, sleeping inside the National Park, where you will hear lions roar at night!
White water rafting on the great Zambezi River – Starting at the base of Victoria Falls to raft in its water, you can choose a half day, full day or multi day trips. The Zambezi river has several of the most dangerous rapids in the world. I am not a white water rafting person so I have never done it but all my friends who have done were not disappointed at all. Recommendation: do it with a professional company like Bundu or SAFPAR.
The heart racing Devil´s Pool – the natural pool on the edge of the actual Victoria Falls, open for a few months in the dry season it is one of the craziest things I have ever done in my entire life. Classified as one of the 25 most dangerous things of the world, it is so worth it!
Volunteer for a day at a local preschool with Baobuyu Learning Centre – Do you want to make a difference for a day? Bring a big smile to the kids faces? This preschool is an awesome NGO who accepts daily visits and spending some time with the kids and teachers will make your journey a little bit more magical. Believe me, go and visit them! Get in contact with Baobuyu Learning Centre
Feeling tired from all the adventures, treat yourself with the best massage ever while you support a local business. Namakau and her team at Namakau’s Health Spa, offer beauty treatments but you can´t pass up the 1 hour massage for just $20. You will float out of there.
◊ There are still few places where you can find elephant rides and other wildlife interaction in Zambia, PLEASE, think twice and be a responsible tourist. Don’t support animal abuse, there shouldn’t be any wild animal captive for our own entertainment (and yes, captivity for a wild animal it is abuse) ◊
Hike down one of the rapids – This was one of our favorite things to do. If you feel adventurous and want to enjoy one of the best views ever, ask to somebody how to hike down a rapid or even just to stand on top of Rapid 7 while you watch the sunset. Please, note that they have been few robberies there so be very careful.
In Lusaka, the capital of Zambia
Monkey pools – If you are stopping through Lusaka and have a day off I would recommend to visit these natural pools where you will feel like the only person there. Crystaline water surrounded by the bush. Be sure to take your own drinks and snacks. Totally worth it!
Visit local curio markets – if you are looking for arts, crafts, souvenirs or hand carved wood works to take home, a visit to the curio markets is a must. Be ready to bargain down the price/s as tourists, like anywhere, are overcharged with crazy inflated prices. Tip: prices are also cheaper than in Livingstone.