What we loved…
Victoria Falls – Traveling Zambia without heading to Victoria Falls would be a huge mistake. We happened to be in Zambia when the falls were almost completely dry. It was more like Victoria Canyon for us, which was still breathtaking in its own right. We did venture out to the Devil’s Pool where the falls were flowing in full glory, and it was spectacular! There’s nothing quite like swimming in nature’s pool at the top of one of the largest waterfalls in the world. You can hang over the edge and truly feel and see the power of the falls rush 355 feet down into the Zambezi river below.
Extreme Sports – White water rafting, bungee jumping, kayaking, ziplining, swimming at the top of a massive waterfall, canyon swinging, Zambia knows how to get your adrenaline pumping. Plus you can do sunset cruises past hippos and elephants, or sunrise helicopter flights over the falls. And that’s all just in Livingstone. There’s all kinds of safari on offer around the country (see next item).
Wildlife – Like many African countries, Zambia offers some great Safari areas to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Africa is the only continent where you can witness all these exotic animals in their natural habitat, so be sure to appreciate them while you’re there. Whether you Safari in Zambia or one of it’s neighbors, don’t miss out. Lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, cape buffalo, hippos, hyenas, crocs, monkeys, baboons – there’s plenty to see. There’s even a lion encounter experience where you get to walk with the lions.
What we didn’t love…
Walking Safari – We were so excited about going on a walking safari in Zambia, the home of walking Safaris. We were so disappointed by our experience, even after doing a ton of research. I don’t feel like anyone was truly honest about what a walking Safari is all about. We thought ‘wow, we’ll get out and feel like we’re one with the animals’. We should have known better. Yes, you have to go with an armed scout along with your guide, but they’re still going to keep you away from any potential danger.
This means you stay away from all the animals you’d actually like to see. Yes a walking Safari allows you to see aspects of the ecosystem that are otherwise missed on game drives, but unless you really care about bugs, tracks and scat, you’ll be sorely disappointed. For more on this, check out our Must or Bust article on Walking Safaris.
Power Outages – This is Africa! Because the government has decided to sell much of the power that their great rivers hydro-generate, when the rivers are low, their own country suffers. What, an African government has screwed their own people to benefit their own bank accounts? If you spend enough time in Africa you learn that this is all too common. Zambia has done a pretty good job of trying to give you a heads up at least. They have scheduled rolling blackouts for 8 – 12 hours at a time. But, sometimes they change the schedule without telling anyone, plus there are still unscheduled power outages.
If you have enough money to stay at a nice hotel, this won’t be a problem for you because that hotel will have generators. Backpackers need to be vigilant and charge all electronics when the power is on. Remember, ATMs require power, so plan accordingly.
The Currency – No currency needs that many zeros. Zambia is fixing it soon, but currently 1USD equals 520,000 Zambian Kwacha. That makes everything more difficult from carrying enough bills to doing the conversion math. But as if that isn’t annoying enough, some people reference it as 520 kwacha, some reference it as 5,200 kwacha, and others refer to it as 520,000 kwacha. Talk about confusing! Traveling Zambia will be so much easier once they drop their extra zeroes.