Getting to Know Zambia

INTRODUCTION

Zambia is a vibrant and welcoming nation whose regional diversity makes for a rich and enthralling travel experience. Visitor numbers are small, and the vast areas of pristine wilderness have remained unchanged for millennia. The opportunity to explore these areas and see the wildlife without sharing the experience with many others is a privilege that’s hard to find these days. From sweeping savannah to mountainous escarpments and mighty rivers to ancient forests, this is a country primed for exploration. Around 30% of Zambia’s land is protected for wildlife, totalling around 250,000 square kilometres spread over 20 national parks and 34 game reserves. Thanks to the varied habitat available, Zambia is home to an astonishing assemblage of biodiversity, including 237 species of mammals and 779 species of birds.

A BRIEF CULTURAL OVERVIEW

Zambia’s population of 17 million people is comprised of 72 unique ethnic groups. Though each has their own language, there are 8 official languages, with English, Nyanja and Bemba being the widest spoken. Zambians are renowned for being very friendly and welcoming. Visitors to the country are invariably touched by the warmth with which they are greeted. It is consistently well-ranked in the UN Global Peace Index, often ranking as one of the best countries in Africa. In addition to a rich traditional food culture, there is a flourishing food scene in the capitol city of Lusaka. The art scene is also thriving, offering travellers chances to experience everything from traditional tribal art to chic photo galleries featuring local artists.

SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

  • Park size: 9,050 sq km
  • Mammal species: 60
  • Bird species: 450
  • Key predators: leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena
  • Highlight species: elephant, carmine bee-eaters, hippos, puku, Thornicroft giraffe (endemic), Crawshay’s zebra (endemic), Cookson’s wildebeest (endemic)
  • Our camps: Time + Tide Chinzombo, Mchenja, Nsolo, Kakuli, Luwi
  • Activities: day and night game drives, walking safaris, Sleepout Under the Stars, wildlife hides, seasonal boating (Jan – Apr), school visits

Known as the Valley of the Leopard, South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s premier wildlife destination. In a tapestry of towering forests, meandering rivers, grassy pans, water holes and mopane woodlands, the park supports abundant and varied wildlife. In 1950, one of our founders, Norman Carr, started a conservation-based ecotourism operation, one of the first of its kind. He pioneered the walking safari, as well community involvement in the long-term operation of the enterprise. Thanks to his innovation, the Luangwa Valley is still thriving to this day. We proudly continue his legacy, bringing that same ethos of sustainability and respect to our five camps in the South Luangwa.

Predator action is excellent in the park, with prolific sightings of the elusive leopard, strong numbers of lions and hyenas, and Zambia’s largest population of endangered wild dogs. The rivers teem with life, hosting countless wading birds, crocodiles and Africa’s densest concentration of hippos. Abundant elephant, buffalo, puku and other plains game can be seen. The region is also home to several endemic species that are only found in the Luangwa Valley: Thornicroft giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra and Cookson’s wildebeest. From September to November, the stunning carmine bee-eaters descend in the thousands to nest in large colonies in the dry riverbanks.

LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK

  • Park size: 4,092 sq km
  • Mammal species: 60
  • Bird species: 378
  • Key predators: lion, leopard, wild dog, hyena
  • Highlight species: elephant, buffalo, hippo
  • Our camps: Time + Tide Chongwe Camp, Suites and House
  • Activities: day and night game drives, walking safaris, boat cruises, canoeing safaris, catch-and-release fishing, Sleepout Under the Stars, wildlife hide, school visits

Flanked by the escarpment on one side and the mighty Zambezi River on the other, Lower Zambezi National Park is an extraordinary wilderness. A land defined by its rivers, lush channels branch from larger rivers and weave through ancient forests and open pans to create a haven for wildlife and birdlife. With few camps in the area, game viewing is uncrowded and engaging. Inspired by a childhood mentorship with the legendary Norman Carr, Chris Liebenberg, co-founder of our Lower Zambezi camps, was inspired to pursue a career in conservation and ecotourism. Still a family run operation, the passion and dedication are felt throughout the camp, with many visitors calling it their ‘happy place’ or ‘home away from home’.

Elephants are among the Lower Zambezi’s most prolific residents, with large breeding herds found throughout the valley. Attracted to the endless winterthorn seeds found in our Lower Zambezi camps, elephants are daily visitors. Predator action in the park is excellent, with great sightings of lions and endangered wild dogs. The region’s many rivers are home to large hippo pods, monster crocodiles and huge tiger fish. The birding is superb, with everything from bee-eaters and fish eagles to goliath herons and kingfishers. Thanks to the utter silence, canoeing and walking safaris offer the best opportunities for enthusiastic birders.

LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK

  • Park size: 3,360 sq km
  • Mammal species: 60
  • Bird species: 334
  • Key predators: lion, hyena, cheetah
  • Highlight species: wildebeest and zebra migration, crowned and wattled cranes
  • Our camp: Time + Tide King Lewanika
  • Activities: day and night game drives, walking safaris, canoeing safaris, birdwatching, Sleepout Under the Stars, scenic helicopter flips, school visits

First protected in the 1880s by King Lewanika of the Lozi People, Liuwa Plain National Park has a richly intertwined cultural and natural heritage that is felt throughout the park even today. The Lozi tribe still resides in and around the national park – the only place in Africa where this is so. Every year when the floods arrive, the king’s royal Kuomboka Procession makes its way down the river in a cacophony of drumming, dancing and singing. The region is under the conservation management of African Parks Network, and thanks to their dedicated efforts, the region has a growing cheetah and lion population, with 22 new cheetah cubs born in 2018.

The region is home to Africa’s second biggest wildebeest migration, varied plains game ranging from tiny oribi to enormous eland, cheetah, lion, hyena, and impressively diverse birdlife. In this unusual ecosystem, hyenas are the apex predators, with clans numbering up to 50 individuals. There are no tsetse flies, hippos or crocodiles. When the seasonal floods arrive between December and April, the birdlife flourishes, with many migrant species arriving to breed in the safety and abundance of the wetlands. Year-round, it is also home Africa’s densest concentration of endangered crowned and wattled cranes. Avid birdwatchers should consider the area a must-go destination.

Liuwa Plain is a photographer’s dream come true! As the only permanent camp in the park, we offer exclusive access for our guests. With seasonal flood plains, vast wildflower blooms, sweeping savannah vistas, and dramatic thunderstorms that build on the horizon, it is perfect for landscape photography. With virtually no other vehicles, you will have every sighting to yourself, allowing you to get the best angles on all the action.

EXPLORE WITH TIME + TIDE, THE ZAMBIA EXPERTS

With a legacy dating back to 1950 with the founding of Norman Carr’s visionary ecotourism enterprise, Time + Tide are the go-to Zambian experts. We are the only company that operates in three national parks, meaning we offer the widest knowledge base and the most variety of safari experiences. From scenic helicopter flips and sleeping out under the stars to game drives and canoeing safaris, we have the best array of activities to create an in-depth exploration of Zambia’s wilderness that leaves you feeling fully alive. Every guest is welcomed into the Time + Tide family with open arms and big smiles. Join us and reconnect with nature in a sustainable, meaningful way. Touch the earth and feel every sense come to life with the endless delights that a Time + Tide safari offers. Our award-winning guides are widely known as some of the best in Africa, with several of our senior guides trained by Norman Carr himself. By working only with highly trained local guides, we ensure that guests receive not just an unparalleled level of natural history knowledge, but also the cultural heritage and traditions of the Zambian people who have resided here for generations. The result is an enriching and touching experience that stays with you for years to come, long after the sunset has faded on your trip’s last sundowner.

Many of our sales and reservations team have lived in our camps, and all have an excellent understanding of how to smoothly operate a trip that combines Zambia’s most exclusive and coveted destinations. By working with Time + Tide, you gain access to our knowledge, passion, professionalism, heritage and destinations. We look forward to sharing our beautiful nation with you. With our 70th anniversary coming up next year, we are the best partner for all of your Zambian adventures.

OTHER WELL KNOWN ZAMBIAN DESTINATIONS

  • Victoria Falls – iconic waterfall spanning the Zambia/Zimbabwe border (highest flow rate Feb – May)
  • Bangweulu Wetlands – excellent birding, home to the rare shoebill stork
  • Kasanka National Park – largest mammal migration in the world when 10 million bats arrive en mass to breed (Oct – Dec)
  • Kafue National Park – second largest national park in Africa
  • Kundalila Falls – one of Zambia’s many stunning waterfalls
  • Lusaka – Zambia’s capital city

Book your own dream safari and experience Zambia with us
cath@timeandtideafrica.com
or contact your current Time + Tide travel designer

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