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Places of Interest in Zambia

Southern Sky Adventures: Places of Interest in Zambia

Capitol is Lusaka


Chimfunzi Chimpanze Sanctuary and Animal Orphanage

On the headwaters of the Kafue River, 35 miles west of Chingola, lies the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage (CWO). Aside from Chimpanzees, Chimfunshi does have a host of other animals benefiting from the care of David and Sheila Siddle.

The Siddle’s retired to farm at Chimfunshi in the late 1970’s. Locally famous for caring for animals, Sheila received in 1983 a young chimpanzee that had been confiscated from Zairian poachers. The Chimpanzee wasn’t expected to survive, but Sheila persisted and nursed the animals back to health. That act of love sparked off a process that has turned Chimfunshi into an internationally recognized sanctuary and rehabilitation center. In fact, it is the only successful center of its kind in the world; surviving on the tenacity and ingenuity of David and Sheila as well the financial support of well wishers (as opposed to international wildlife conservation agencies). Once, millions of chimpanzees roamed the forests of 25 countries in equatorial Africa. Today they are an endangered species.

Chimfunshi is now home to over fifty chimpanzees housed in two enclosures – one walled and the other solar power electric fencing – with cages for the new introductions. But Chimfunshi is outgrowing itself. Plans for the acquisition of more land have developed into the formation of the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust.

The Trust has purchased a neighboring farm of ten thousand acres with the intention to create a 2,500 acre fenced enclosure for the chimps while the balance will be dedicated to a wildlife preserve, education facilities and a tourist lodge.


Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park (KNP) is Zambia’s oldest park and by far the largest. It was proclaimed in 1950 and is spread over 13,500 square miles – the second largest national park in the world and about twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. Despite the Park’s proximity to both Lusaka and the Copperbelt, it has remained underdeveloped until the most recent years. Despite the depravations of poaching and lack of management, the Park is still a raw and diverse slice of African wilderness with excellent game viewing, bird watching and fishing opportunities.

From the astounding Busanga Plains in the North-western section KFP to the tree-choked wilderness and the lush dambos of the south, fed by the emerald green Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers, the park sustains huge herds of a great diversity of wildlife. Amidst the thousands of red lechwe on the Plains, the ubiquitous puku, the stately sable and roan antelopes in the woodland to the diminutive oribi and duiker, KFN boasts a large variety of game. The solid-rumped defassa waterbuck, herds of tsessebe, hartebeest, zebra and buffalo make for a full menu of antelope. Large prides of lion, solitary leopards and cheetahs are the prime predators.


Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba is like an inland sea on the border of two landlocked countries. By volume, Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the world. It is located on the Zambezi River, about halfway between the river’s source and mouth, about 750 miles upstream from the Indian Ocean, and lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its northeastern end, flooding the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River.

Lake, islands and shoreline constitute an unparalleled wilderness spectacle, home to a multitude of wildlife species in a protected environment. Elephants are often seen traversing the lake from shoreline to island. Lake Kariba is teeming with crocodiles and you can see them sunbathing at intervals of a few yards or so along the shore. Matusadona National Park is the finest safari location along the lake with the best of Lake Kariba’s water wildlife coupled with great inland wildlife viewing. Game viewing by boat near the shore is a wonderful experience and visitors will see large herds of elephant, buffalo and plenty of hippos and waterbuck. Further into the park roan and sable antelope, kudu, impala, lions and black rhino are often seen while leopards are elusive.

Kariba is famed for its sport fishing, with the fighting tigerfish as the prime trophy.


Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika’s waters lap Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. It is the longest fresh water lake in the world and the second deepest after lake Baikal in Russia. The immense depth is because it lies in the Great Rift Valley, which also has created its steep shoreline. It reaches a depth of 4,700 feet or almost a mile.

Although Zambia can only lay claim to 7% of its surface area, it stretches north to south a distance of 420 miles and averages about 31 miles wide. The clear waters host more than 350 different species of fish and are well known for aquarium fish exports and excellent angling.


Livingstone

Named after the famous Victorian missionary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, the town of Livingstone was established in 1905. As a major European settlement, the town was made the capital of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. As the capital, it enjoyed excellent facilities far superior to anything in the country, as can be seen from the surviving Edwardian colonial buildings that line the city’s main road, and even had the distinction of having the country’s first newspaper.

The capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935 and the bustling city has become a quiet town, a little neglected but still retaining a special charm. The proximity to the Zambezi River and the spectacular Victoria Falls has led it to become a base for travelers from all over the world wanting to explore this Seventh wonder of the World.


Lower Zambezi National Park

The Lower Zambezi National Park is Zambia’s newest Park and as such is still relatively undeveloped, but its beauty lies in its absolute wilderness state. The diversity of animals is notable, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. Elephants regularly cross parts of the river to gain access to lush grasses on the nearby islands. In addition, large hippo groups are found up and down the river in numbers that are hard to match anywhere in Africa. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary.

The Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 2,500 square miles, but most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the parks animal species. Enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, are often seen at the river’s edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard.

Tiger fishing along this stretch of the Zambezi is excellent.


North Luangwa National Park

This remote tract of land covering 2,700 square miles offers one of the finest wilderness experiences in Zambia, if not Africa itself. North Luangwa National Park (NLNP) is not open to the public and there are no permanent lodges there. Access is with one of the few safari operators granted permission to conduct walking safaris there. The beauty of visiting this park is the truly remarkable opportunities to experience Africa as it was. It is wild and untouched and you are simply an unobtrusive witness to its natural beauty and drama.

Although declared a wilderness area, the NLNP, was not open to anyone other than Game Department rangers for more than thirty years. In 1984, Major John Harvey and his wife Lorna sought permission to conduct walking safaris in the area and for many years were the only operators in this remote wilderness.

The NLNP is noted for its massive herds of buffalo, a spectacular sight if they’re seen on the run, kicking up dust for miles behind them. Large prides of lion inhabit the territory and it is not uncommon to witness a kill. Other common mammals are hyena, Cookson’s wildebeest, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, puku and impala. Elephant and leopard are also seen, but not as frequently as in the South Park. Visitors are more likely to see hartebeest, reedbuck and eland here, however.


South Luangwa National Park

Experts have dubbed South Luangwa National Park (SLNP) as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the (SLNP) and its ox bow lagoons is among the most intense in Africa.

The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the park’s 5,500 square miles. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand. The changing seasons add to the park’s richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.

Further out on the plains you’re bound to see the large elephant herds, reaching up to 70 in number. Buffalo are abundant and spread throughout the valley. The hippopotamus is one animal visitors won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be at least 50 hippos per mile of the Luangwa River. Lions are as plentiful in the Luangwa as anywhere else in Africa. South Luangwa has a good population of leopard. The Luangwa River also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.


Victoria Falls

Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘the Smoke that Thunders’ and in more modern terms as ‘the greatest known curtain of falling water’, Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as 546 million cubic yards of water per minute plummet over the edge, at the height of the flood season, over a width of more than one mile into a deep gorge over 300 feet below. The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a wide placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges.

Facing the falls is another sheer wall of basalt, rising to the same height and capped by mist-soaked rain forest. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor who is prepared to brave the tremendous spray with an unparalleled series of views of the falls.

Heralded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls offers a myriad of accommodation choices in and around Livingstone, Zambia. Whitewater rafting, helicopter tours, canoe trips and power boat rides are all means by which to enjoy the falls as well as the walking the paths along the cliffs and strolling across the bridge just a short distance downstream.


Zambezi River

The Zambezi is Africa’s fourth largest River system, after the Nile, Zaire and Niger Rivers. It runs through six countries on its journey from central Africa to the Indian Ocean for a total of 2,000 miles. Its unique value is that it is less developed than others in terms of human settlement and many areas along its banks enjoy protected status.

The river’s power has carved the spectacular Victoria Falls and the zigzagging Batoka Gorge. The Zambezi has been harnessed at various points along the way including the massive Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique.

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