Safaris in Africa entice more and more people every year – the image of a near-silent group of people in an open topped jeep watching lions and zebras is very tempting. In Zambia, the opportunity to do this is improved by the national parks – 30% of the country is set aside for wildlife. The top safari lodges and camps set up in these parks take their business seriously – groups are accompanied by a trained guide and a rifle bearing guard. Whether walking or driving, the guides are careful with your safety, but they also know exactly where the local wildlife hangs out. They know how to recognize tracks, where you’re most likely to spot the elusive leopard, and where to keep a watchful eye out for angry hippos. The dry season in most of Zambia is in the winter, from May to December, and many of the camps are only open during that time, but some are available year round. Where to go though? Check out our top 10 to find the perfect spot for you.
10. Sanctuary Puku Ridge
Puku Ridge Camp is up on a hillside overlooking a floodplain in the South Luangwa National Park. The accommodation is in the style of luxury safari tents with en suite bathrooms and a private viewing deck. You’ll be able to see zebra, lions, leopards and elephants from the camp itself, and the camp offers both walking safaris and game drives to see the wildlife out in the park such as buffaloes and hippos.
9. Chindeni Bush Camp
Chindeni Camp, open from May to December, is right on the edge of a lagoon surrounded by ebony trees in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The four rooms are safari tents over wooden floors with four-poster beds. Each one has a private viewing deck looking out over the lagoon. They offer walking safaris, day and night drives, and bird watching. The lagoon attracts hippos and elephants, and at dawn and dusk many of the parks wildlife wander to the edge for a drink.
8. Tena Tena
Tena Tena Camp is again in the South Luangwa National Park, near Kawaza village. The elegant camp is in a grove of mahogany trees on the edge of the Luangwa River, and has 5 luxury safari tents privately nestled among the trees. The activities on offer here include the usual walking and driving safaris, as well as trips into the village of Kawaza, a local wildlife education center, and a local tribal textiles shop.
7. Flatdogs Camp
Flatdogs Camp is on the shores of the Luangwa River, home to crocodiles (“flatdogs”) and hippos, and near an elephant crossing. The camp has chalet rooms and safari tents, as well as a treehouse to stay in. The facility has a swimming pool, bar, and a la carte restaurant. They offer a variety of walking and driving tours of the wilderness, including an all day tour with a picnic lunch. In addition to the crocodiles, warthogs and giraffes are regularly seen in the area, along with zebras and antelopes.
6. Chiawa Camp
Chiawa Camp takes us out of the Luangwa Park and into Lower Zambezi National Park on the banks of the Zambezi River in a mahogany grove. The camp has nine safari tents, several with thatched roofs, for accommodation, as well as a lounge and bar with a second floor viewing deck, a swimming pool, and two wildlife viewing hides. In addition to the bush walks and day and night drives, Chiawa Camp also offers trips out onto the river. You can go out on a motor boat (with a quiet engine) or paddle a canoe down the river for a new view of the wildlife. There is also catch and release fishing.