Discover Zambia in 12 days

Zambia is known primarily for Victoria Falls, the awe-inspiring waterfalls that straddle the international border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. An under-the-radar safari destination, the country is one of the best game viewing destinations in Africa. It is like Kenya 30 years ago, according to travelers who have experienced Zambia’s safari destinations. This 12-day suggested itinerary is for those who are short on time, but still want to get a good taste of what Zambia has to offer.

Detailed itinerary: Discover Zambia in 12 days

Day 1 to 2: Victoria Falls

Today starts your adventure in Zambia! Home to one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, Victoria Falls, Zambia offers remote and awe-inspiring wilderness. You could spend months in the country to experience everything it has to offer, but if you have limited time, this guide will help you plan your dream Zambia trip. On day 1 and day 2, get up close and personal view of the Victoria Falls. Make sure to visit all the accessible vantage points such as the Knife-edge Bridge, Falls Bridge, Devils Pool, and the Lookout Tree. Also, avail the Zambezi Sunset Cruise, a dinner cruise that takes you to the legendary Zambezi, the fourth largest river in Africa.

Day 3: Livingstone to South Luangwa

After your early morning game drive, leave Victoria Falls for the amazing South Luangwa National Park, located on the east side of Zambia’s Luangwa River. The national park is about a 5-hour flight via the only domestic carrier, Proflight, from Livingstone to Mfuwe Airport (via Lusaka). Flights are very expensive and could go as high as USD 500 one way. A cheaper alternative is by taking a bus from Livingstone to Lusaka, then another long bus ride to South Luangwa.

Welcoming sign in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Welcoming sign in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia (PlusONE / Shutterstock)

Travel Tip: Buy tickets for a one-way flight ahead of time. This may not be the cheapest option but it will save you two entire days since you only have 12 days in Zambia. You may also avail an all-in package tour from a local travel agency in Livingstone. Also, reserve a hotel ahead of time to get the best rates. There are several safari lodges in the heart of the protected national park where you can practically see the abundant wildlife from your bedroom window.

Giraffes in the open plains of South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Giraffes in the open plains of South Luangwa National Park (paula french / Shutterstock)

At South Luangwa National Park, there are plenty of safari camps and lodges to choose from. Most of it lie along Luangwa River or one of its tributaries, but are placed in quite a distance from each other. As the national park draws fewer visitors compared to its neighbors, you rarely pass another group, even during peak season. If you are following this suggested itinerary, you would have to look for an accommodation in Nsefu Camp, Lion Camp and Chongwe River Camp.

Lodges to consider in South Luangwa National Park:

Bilimungwe Bushcamp – The Bushcamp Company

Mfuwe Lodge – The Bushcamp Company

Chindeni Bushcamp – The Bushcamp Company

Thornicroft Lodge

Shenton Safaris Mwamba Bush Camp

Day 4 to 6: Nsefu Camp

Situated in the Nsefu Sector in the Northern part of South Luangwa National Park, Nsefu Camp has a reputation of high wildlife sightings including lions and leopards. It is one of the finest safari destinations in Zambia, with abundant wildlife and distinct vegetation. Basically, it has the wildlife and wonders of an African safari, but it’s less crowded so it will provide you a feeling of being one with nature. Even during the peak season, you will rarely see another group during your game drives; the national park seems to be your alone.

Female lion in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Female lion in South Luangwa National Park (YolLusZam1802 / Shutterstock)

Nsefu Camp is also famous among nature enthusiasts and bird photographers because it is home to about 400 species of birds like yellow-billed storks, flamingos, osprey, among others.

White throated bee-eater, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
White throated bee-eater, South Luangwa National Park (Sharon Haeger / Shutterstock)

Day 7 to 9: Lion Camp

Undoubtedly one of the best travel experiences in South Luangwa National Park is a visit to Lion Camp, still located in the north sector of the park. It is one of the best places in the world to spot lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards. Just like in Nsefu Camp, you can do early morning and night game drives, and walking safari. To get a higher probability of sighting the famed big five, it is best to go in the open savanna in the early mornings. As the 4×4 goes deeper into the wilderness, you can spot an array of African wildlife having out together. There is abundance of wildlife in Lion Camp that you will surely lose count of what’s been spotted.

Buffalo in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Buffalo in South Luangwa National Park (RPSP / Shutterstock)

Day 10 to 12: Chongwe River Camp

On days 10 to 11, jump into a safari 4×4 and continue your safari adventure in search for lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants and buffalo, Africa’s famed big five, at the Chongwe River Camp. In an impressive riverside position in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi Valley, the river camp has a deserved reputation for a staggering concentration of African wildlife. Game drives are conducted by experienced and qualified game rangers and trackers who will share the secrets of the wilderness.

Hippos, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
African darter, Anhinga rufa, sitting on the back of hippopotamus ( / Shutterstock)

Day 12 marks the end of your adventure in Zambia. Start early in the morning in order to be transferred to the airport in time for your flight back to Livingstone. If you have extra money to splurge, continue your Zambian safari in Old Mondoro Camp or Chiawa Camp.

Have you been to Zambia?  Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.

Featured image: Elephant with baby near the Zambezi River, Zambia (GUDKOV ANDREY / Shutterstock)


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