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North-Eastern Zambia

Africa's best authentic tailor-made safaris

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North-Eastern Zambia

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By Diane Du Plessis

Safari Travel Planner

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North-eastern Zambia is a vast, varied region – a mix of lush, open grassland, thick riverine forest, beautiful rivers, wetlands, and lakes. To the south, the Luangwa Valley area is the most accessible – by Zambian standards – and South Luangwa National Park is one of the country’s best, and most popular wildlife destinations.

Further north, access becomes increasingly difficult. The Great North Road, the T2 highway from Lusaka, is the north’s main artery. While it’s generally kept in reasonable condition, most secondary roads are rough and challenging and can be completely impassable in the wet season.

Many of the region’s few visitors forgo the bumpy, time-consuming roads and opt instead for fly-in North-Eastern Zambia safaris to the more remote highlights: North Luangwa and Kasanka National Park and the Bangweulu Wetlands.

Highlights of a North-Easter Zambia Safari

South Luangwa National Park is arguably Zambia’s best for wildlife. It offers the best combination of natural beauty, accessibility, wildlife, and a range of lodges, camps, and Zambia safari activities.

The Luangwa Valley is where the first-ever commercial walking safaris began, and they’re still a highlight of the region. They’re especially worthwhile in the more isolated North Luangwa National Park, known for its expert guides and pristine, largely unvisited wilderness.

hippos-north-eastern-zambia
hippos-north-eastern-zambia

Northwest of Luangwa Valley, the Bangweulu Wetlands are wonderfully wild and remote. The few brave adventurers who visit usually do so for the endemic Black lechwe and the remarkable 1.5m-tall shoebill, which with its goofy smile could have been plucked from a fanciful Disney animation.

Nearby Kasanka National Park is a beautiful reserve and home to a sky-darkening, 10-million-strong bat migration in November and December each year. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit Shiwa Ng’andu estate, the incredible early 20th-century project of British-born Stewart Gore-Browne, who became one of Africa’s greatest champions for autonomy and self-rule. There are hot springs, fishing, canoeing, rafting, and guided walks nearby.

Practical Advice for a North-Easter Zambia Safari
  • If you’re planning to drive, don’t drive alone. A northeastern Zambia safari tour is extremely challenging and remote and is only recommended for experienced 4×4 enthusiasts, ideally traveling in a convoy.
  • Fly-in safaris are the norm here, and all the major camps and lodges offer air transfers, usually from Lusaka. It’s a good idea to book your entire trip with a single, reputable agent – they’re often cheaper than booking directly with a lodge.
  • You’ll also get better rates if you stick with just one safari operator. The more prominent operators run multiple camps and lodges, with deals for more extended stays across their properties.
  • Be aware that similar prices don’t necessarily denote a similar style. The most remote lodges are much more expensive to run, and you’ll pay a premium for the wildest, most exclusive locations.

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