Zambia

201203_Luangwa2_308South Luangwa, Emerald Season Photographic Workshop, Zambia, puku, antelope201203_Luangwa2_1530Zambia, South Luangwa National ParkZambia, South Luangwa, group of wild dogs on a road © David Rogers Zambia, Liuwa Plains National Park, male lion200905_Luangwa_2240

Why photographers should visit Zambia

Zambia ranks as one of the top photographic areas in Africa thanks to fantastic wildlife, scenery and diversity, combined with the authenticity of its camps, quality of guides and great opportunities for walking and photographing on foot. It’s a place that can be visited again and again and has options for every season. First time visitors should consider four days in South Luangwa, four days in Lower Zambezi and two days at Victoria Falls. Repeat visitors will find Liuwa Plains, Kafue and Kasanka fascinating. Generally, the game viewing is at its best from June until October. But there are also great offers and opportunities in the Emerald Season from November to May. Let us help you with your planning and arrangements, and we can put you in the right places at the right time.

 

This is one of the premier parks in Africa famous for its spectacular river scenery, walking trails, night drives, game drives, riverine landscapes and high concentrations of game, especially leopards. It is in southeastern Zambia and is flanked by the high ramparts on the Muchinga Escarpment, which define the southern end of the Great Rift Valley. While the best game-viewing season is from June to October, the river trips during the Emerald Season are highly recommended. The park is famous for its relaxed, owner-run camps, which are very authentic.

Great photographic opportunities at South Luangwa

  • Head off on an afternoon game drive looking for leopards.
  • Get in a hide and photograph carmine bee-eaters.
  • Watch pelicans and storks cleaning out the lagoons at fishing parties.
  • Wait for crowned cranes to fly into the salt pans in the mornings.
  • Go in summer and do long river cruises into the flooded lagoons.
  • Marvel at park-like scenery with lagoons, tall baobabs and impressive sausage trees.

Camps we recommend 

Photographers need to know

The Mfuwe, or central area, produces excellent lion and leopard sightings throughout the year and probably offers the best density of wildlife, but over weekends and during peak season, there are many visitors. The north, near Lion Plain and in the Nsefu Sector, provides a more remote and highly prized experience. Off-road driving in the park is not allowed, but the road network is good, and you will get up close to predators.

Gallery

Situated on the floodplain between the escarpment and the twisting Zambezi River, this national park which lies opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools World Heritage Site, is itself a treasure. Game viewing is good, especially elephants and plains game (although not quite so diverse as South Luangwa), and the river is a fantastic attraction with boat trip, game drives, canoeing and walking on offer. While game viewing is best from June onwards, there are some camps that are open during the Emerald Season.

Great photographic opportunities at Lower Zambezi

  • Head onto a sandy island and photograph the Zambezi with the escarpment behind.
  • Go boating and photograph elephants, hippo and water birds.
  • Take a drive and photograph lions, wild dogs, impala and other species.
  • Go canoeing and look out for bee-eaters on the banks.
  • Make sure you’re ready when you fly in for an aerial view of this great river.

Photographers need to know

It’s best to choose a camp close to or inside the national park gate so you can get to game viewing areas in time for the best light.

Gallery

no images were found

This World Heritage Site, which is visible from up to 30-kilometres away at peak flood, is breathtaking.

The Zambian side of the river overlooks the Eastern Cataract and is an ideal location, especially between January and July when the water levels are high. There are also great views from Livingstone Island, which is where the explorer first viewed the falls.

Photographic opportunities at Victoria Falls

  • View the spray from the falls from a cruise on the Upper Zambezi.
  • Charter a helicopter or microlight for aerial opportunities.
  • Visit at full moon and photograph the lunar rainbow.
  • Photograph people swimming in the pool on Livingstone Island.
  • Go into the gorge and photograph rafters and bungee jumpers.

Photographers need to know 

At full water, make sure you have a housing or bag for keeping spray off the camera. During the dry season when the river is low, views of the Eastern Cataract from Zambia can be quite disappointing. But it’s easy to cross the river to get a view from Zimbabwe at this time.

Gallery

no images were found

Few people have ventured into the Liuwa Plains due to its relative inaccessibility in Western Zambia. The prolific birdlife, vast open grasslands and wildebeest migration make it one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas. The park is inundated with water for much of the year. Visit in May or June at the end of the rains or in November or December when the wildebeest migration is in full swing and the Liuwa Plains’ pools are fringed by yellow flowers. It’s a surprising place, which is often reminiscent of the Okavango.

Photographic opportunities at Liuwa Plains

  • Watch birds fluttering about the lily-covered pools.
  • Find lions, wild dogs, cheetah and hyena in their dens.
  • Go on foot and photograph game from low angles.
  • Witness the largest wildebeest migration outside of Kenya.
  • Check out large colonies of cranes and
  • Photograph the fascinating cultural scenes in Barotseland.

Where to stay

Norman Carr Safaris run Matamanene Camp — the only option for staying here.

Need to know

Liuwa Plains is an expensive trip to arrange. The camp is fairly basic in nature, but in a wilderness like this, who cares? J

Gallery

no images were found

At 22 000 square kilometres, Kafue is the largest national park in Zambia with the greatest biodiversity with 480 birds and 15 mammal species. It was established as a National Park in the 1950’s by the legendary Norman Carr, and remains little-known and largely unexplored. Vast tracts of its virgin bush remain untouched. The Lunga and Kafue Rivers offer boating and birding, but the game-viewing highlight is the Busanga Plains in the north. This is a dry season destination with the best months being from June to October.

Photography opportunities at Kafue National Park

  • Find impressive, big-maned lions, large herds of buffalo and elephants.
  • Head out in the early morning when mist is rising off the plains.
  • Get great shots of roan, red lechwe and sable antelope.
  • Photograph unusual species such as black lilies and banana plants. 

Where to stay 

Need to know

Busanga reveals its secrets easily, but other parts of Kafue can be less productive for wildlife.

This is a gem of a park in northern Zambia covering 390 square kilometres of miombo woodland, forest and papyrus which protects an exceptional variety of animals. The camp is best visited in November when the largest concentration of straw coloured fruit bats congregates in the Mushitu Forest.

Photographic opportunities at Kasanka

  • Visit the Fibwe hide which is the best place anywhere to photograph shy sitatunga.
  • Watch five million fruit bats take to the sky at dusk.
  • Take a trip to the Bangweulu Swamps, famed for its shoebills and herds of up to 10 000 endemic black lechwe.

Where to stay 

Photographers need to know

The accommodation is fairly basic and although it offers catering, it’s mostly a self-catering camp.

Gallery

The park has the steep-sided miombo covered Muchinga Escarpment to the north. Clear rivers, with pools of hippos, flow off the escarpment through the park and into the Luangwa River. The park is accessible only during the dry season. The only viable black rhino population in Zambia is protected in this park. The North Luangwa National Park has more of a wilderness feel than its counterpart, South Luangwa. This atmosphere is preserved because excursions are mostly on foot.

Photographic opportunities in North Luangwa

  • Go on foot and photograph lion and buffalo.
  • Explore the escarpment and find hippo pools beneath tumbling waterfalls.

Where to stay 

Photographers need to know

North Luangwa is a long drive from South Luangwa, but it offers a wilderness experience where you are likely to fill everlasting memories rather that memory cards. There are very few roads.

Geography

Zambia is a landlocked country bordered by Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, DRC, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

Full name: Republic of Zambia
Capital: Lusaka
Population: 16.2 million (2015)
Geographic coordinates: 15 25 S, 28 17 E
Area: 752 618 sq. km / 290 587 sq. mi.
Time: +2 hours GMT

VISAS AND PASSPORTS

Visitors to Zambia must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date, together with onward travel documents, proof of accommodation and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. Please also ensure that you have sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least 2 consecutive/side-by-side blank pages. Our recommendation is 3 pages (or even 4 if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey). Visitors from most countries can get a visa on arrival, while visitors from some counties in Southern and East Africa don’t need a visa. Please confirm with your local embassy whether there are any visa requirements or by contacting us.

BANKS AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE

The currency unit is the Zambian kwacha (ZMW). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks and Bureaux de Change. Visa and Mastercard are sometimes accepted but cash is often necessary. You can draw local currency through local ATMs in larger cities. The exchange rate is currently $1 : 11 ZMW.

LANGUAGES

English is an official language as is widely understood. The most common indigenous languages are Bemba, Nyanja and Tonga, but a number of others are also spoken. Road signs and official forms are in English and English will be spoken in tourism destinations.

FREEDOM

Zambia is a democracy. People are extremely friendly. Crime is not prominent, but is a concern in certain areas. You should be careful when travelling not to be an obvious target. Keep a close eye on your possessions and lock your valuables away. Be careful not to venture into unknown urban areas, especially at night. If in any doubt ask your hotel, but use your common sense and you will be more than fine.

MALARIA

Malaria is a concern in Zambia. Please make sure that you consult your doctor in advance and take necessary precautions.  Yellow fever vaccination is only required if entering from a yellow fever zone. Consult your nearest travel clinic for up to date information. It is also advisable to know your blood group in case of an emergency.

WEATHER

Zambia is a tropical country with distinct seasons. Zambia’s dry seasons stretches form June to November and temperatures are generally pleasant, in the 20s Celsius but reaching the 30s. Wildlife tends to congregate around remaining water sources and game viewing is easier amid sparse vegetation. The rains arrive from November to December and carry on until April. Some camps close in the green season, but it’s a time for wild flowers and birding. Even during the rainy season, storms are usually brief.

INSURANCES

Please ensure that you have medical insurance cover while you are on safari. It is also recommended to have cancellation and curtailment insurance as Photos & Africa or agents cannot be held responsible for unforseen events such as delays in international flights or health issues. We ask that full insurance is put in place at point of confirmation. Please give us the details as above. We expect that every guest has insurance that covers the following as a minimum:

  • Cancellation and curtailment
  • Medical costs (including full hospital costs should it be needed)
  • Personal accident or death
  • Emergency evacuation from the point of evacuation to the nearest best hospital and then back to the guest’s hometown. Family or traveling partner should also be covered for accompanying an evacuation.

We cannot emphasize how important it is to be fully covered. Private hospitals in Africa will not accept a patient until full medical insurance has been established.

WHAT TO BRING

You should always travel with soft bags, not hard suitcases (not only for the smaller aircraft but also to fit into vehicles). Weight restrictions on internal flights is usually between 20 and 25 kg per person with one carry on bag that is usually limited to 7 kg per person. Photographers need not be overly concerned about these limits. The airlines do not allow valuable items to be checked into the hold and will allow cameras to be taken on board as long as the cumulative weight is adhered to. We recommend that you travel with anything essential (medication in particular, spare glasses, batteries) and, if possible, a change of clothes.

WHAT TO PACK

Please see our website for a full description of what to pack, photo gear suggestions, rental and also safari clothing. When packing, consider the following:

Always carry a hat, sunglasses, high-strength sunscreen, moisturizer, lip salve, strong insect repellent, anti-histamine cream and tablets. Bring binoculars, a torch (flashlight) and if you wear prescription glasses, bring a spare.

Clothes – all properties have a daily laundry service, so do not bring too many. Here is a good guide:

  • For safari,
    • 3 sets bush coloured safari outfits (long/shorts/shirts) i.e. green/brown/dark khaki (not white, cream or bright colours – especially for walking).
    • 2 set casual evening clothes (long trousers & shirts and socks to reduce insect bites).
    • 1 lightweight sweat Warm jacket in winter (June/July/early Aug).
    • Light rain gear for the wet months (November – April). Lodges do provide ponchos.
    • Open shoes or sandal type shoes for warmer day A pair of closed walking shoes – need not bring boots.
  • In cities and some of the more upmarket camps, the dress code is generally very informal, but you may wish to bring along a non-safari shirt with a collar – even if it’s a golf shirt.
  • A number of camps do have pools, so bring swimwear with you.

STAYING IN TOUCH

There is mobile and internet reception through Zambia and also at some of the camps. It is likely to be slow internet compared to your home country. Also remember that browsing through local internet service providers is very expensive. We suggest you connect via wireless networks to avoid returning home to a big bill.

POWER AND ADAPTORS

Please note that the plug points in Zambia vary, but most are three-flat pins (220 volt). Most hotels and lodges have adaptors for the commonly used, round two-pin plugs.

plug

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

Please let us know any food allergies or any other special dietary requirements well in advance so the camp /lodge can accommodate you.

RECOMMENDED READING

We recommend the following books specific to the South African region:

  • Scramble for Africa – Thomas Pakenham
  • Creatures of Habit, African Animal Behaviour – Peter Apps
  • Safari Companion – Richard D. Estes
  • Behaviour Guide to African Mammals – Richard Estes
  • Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals – Jonathan Kingdon
  • Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa – Chris & Tilde Stuart
  • Birds of Africa South of the Sahara – Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan

WILD ANIMALS

Africa’s wild animals are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Photographic safari activities and staying in any safari camp place visitors in close proximity to wild animals. It is therefore an inherent risk. Whilst every care is taken by personnel to minimise exposure to risk, our company and its suppliers bear no responsibility whatsoever for any loss, injury, illness, death, delays, cancellation of flights or change of itinerary and retain the right to alter, amend or cancel any part of a safari with just reason.