Zambia is a landlocked country that is neighbored by Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo in the north, Malawi in the east, Angola in the west, and Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia in the south. Most of the cities in Zambia are small. And for the most part, Zambia is dominated by rolling plateaus that are between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. Its Eastern Highlands, however, reach as high as 6,000 feet and the country’s highest point in the northeast, the Muchinga Mountains, reaches 7,000 feet high.
Zambia’s main tourist attraction is Victoria Falls, which the country shares with Zimbabwe. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to see this spectacular set of waterfalls – the widest in the world at 1.5 miles. These falls are also twice as high as the famous Niagara Falls in North America, and drops more than 550 million liters of water per minute into its narrow chasms. The spray from the falls can be seen 20 miles away. The best place to view the main falls is at Knife Edge Bridge. You can also see the “boiling pot” which is where the river turns and heads toward the Batoka Gorge.
Another sight at the falls is the Victoria Falls Bridge, which is a railway bridge looming over several gorges. This bridge offers bungee-jumpers the world’s highest bungee drops at more than 360 feet.
Another popular attraction is the Kafue National Park. This is the second largest national park in the world and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It is located at the heart of the country’s southern region. Bisecting the park is the beautiful Kafue River, which attracts hundreds of species of fish and birds, making it both a popular birding and fishing destination. The principal attraction of Kafue, however, is its safari wildlife; you’ll find hippos, giraffes, lions, elephants, and antelopes. There are lodges and campsites at the park.
While Kafue is the biggest and largest of the parks, Zambia has several more. The North Luangwa National Park is a vast wilderness decorated by woodlands and small rivers. It is home to elephants, buffalos, leopards, baboons, zebras, hyenas, wildcats, impalas, pukus, and velvet monkeys. You’ll also find more than 350 bird species, including the carmine bee-eater, crested leorie, giant eagle owl, and crowned crane.
The South Luangwa National Park, meanwhile, has elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, buffalos, antelopes, hippos, and wild dogs. But it is also noted for its exotic flowers and blossoming trees. Several lodges and camp sites litter this park.
The Lower Zambezi National Park, which sits along the Zambezi River downstream from the Victoria Falls, is also a prolific habitat for wildlife. You’ll find the typical elephants, lions, zebras, buffalos, cheetahs, big cats, and bird varieties, in addition to rivers that teem with fishes such as the bottle-nose and the bream. The river is a source of good fishing and romantic canoe safari rides.
One of Zambia’s smaller parks is the Kasanka National Park. It features eight lakes and four rivers, highlighted by the Luwombwa River. The park and its forests and swamps provide a habitat for specialized birds and mammals. You’ll certainly see the typical safari animals, but you’ll also find rare blue monkeys in the forests.
The Sumbu National Park is more noted for its outdoor sports than it wildlife. Lake Tanganyika is lined with beach resorts at Nkamba, Kasaba, and Ndole Bay; the latter has a camp site. The entire park is dotted with lodges and various eco-style accommodations. At Sumbu, you can enjoy swimming, game-viewing, beautiful sunsets, and freshwater fishing, which is a particular treat considering the big-game you’ll find: giant catfishes, goliath tigerfishes, and huge Nile perches.
The Lochinvar National Park is one of the better birding destinations in Zambia. There are more than 420 known bird species here. The park lies on the southern fringes of the Kafue flats, a flood plain river that is home to herds of lechwe antelopes.
Zambia is rich with opportunities for adventure sports. In that regard, Livingstone is the capital. Its location near the Victoria Falls makes it a great base for daily excursions to the Zambezi River, where you can abseil down the gorge and chasm. The falls, of course, is great for bungee jumping and the Zambezi River renowned for its white-water rafting. For tamer water sports, hang out around Lake Kariba to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
Zambia has been inhabited since at least 500,000 years ago, based on artifacts dug up. However, little is known about these people. During the Stone Age, early humans took to the caves of Kabwe. They were probably followed by the Pygmies who hunted and gathered fruits and grains in the area. In the 13th century, Bantu tribes moved into the area, living a pastoral life grazing cattle and periodically planting crops.
In the 15th century, Portuguese explorers ventured into the interior of present-day Zambia. It was not until the mid- to late- 19th century when the Europeans settled the region. British mining tycoon, Cecil John Rhodes, entered Zambia in the 1880s and signed an agreement with local chiefs that gave him the mineral rights to Zambia. He then established a British colony that ran the territory until 1924.
In 1963, Zambia which was known as Northern Rhodesia dissolved its union with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), forming the independent nation of Zambia. One-party elections were held for much of the early years, until popular discontent led to the first multiparty elections in 1991.
In the mid-1970s, Zambia suffered an economic decline when the price of its chief export, copper, declined worldwide. The country became increasingly strained by its growing debt and received no help in the form of relief from foreign and international lenders. Today, Zambia remains one of the poorer countries in Africa, with one of the highest debt per capita in the world.