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  • Photograph of Leopard

    Leopard by Chris Townend.

    ZAMBIA

    Best Wildlife in Zambia

    Mammals
    Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, African Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, African Buffalo, Straw-coloured Fruit Bat (mostly Nov-Dec), Burchell's Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Chacma and Yellow Baboons, Eland, Greater Kudu, Waterbuck, Topi, (Lichtenstein’s) Hartebeest, Impala, Sitatunga, (Black) Lechwe, Puku, Greater Galago (Bushbaby), Large Spotted (Blotched) Genet and Four-toed Elephant Shrew. Also a chance of African Wild Dog (mostly Apr-May), Cheetah, (Red) Lechwe, Roan, Sable, South African Porcupine and Honey Badger.

    Birds
    African Fish Eagle, Black Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Hamerkop, African Grey, Crowned, Pale-billed, (Southern) Red-billed and Trumpeter Hornbills, Pennant-winged Nightjar (mostly Sep-Mar), African Pitta (mostly Dec-Jan), the endemics Black-cheeked Lovebird and Chaplin’s Barbet, as well as African Pygmy Goose, Helmeted Guineafowl, Great White Pelican, African Darter, Rufous-bellied Heron, Dwarf Bittern (mostly Nov-Mar), African Spoonbill, storks, vultures including Lappet-faced, Bateleur, African Crowned, Long-crested and Martial Eagles, Allen’s Gallinule, Grey Crowned Crane, White-headed Lapwing, Blacksmith Plover, Black-winged Stilt, African Jacana, Rock Pratincole, Heuglin’s Courser, African Skimmer (mostly Nov-Mar), African Green Pigeon, Grey-headed (Cape) and Meyer’s Parrots, Lilian’s Lovebird, Ross’s and Schalow’s Turacos, Grey Go-away-bird, cuckoos including African Emerald, Coppery-tailed Coucal, owls including Verreaux's Eagle Owl, African Black Swift, Bohm’s Spinetail, mousebirds, Narina Trogon, kingfishers including Brown-hooded, Half-collared and Giant, bee-eaters including Blue-breasted, Boehm’s and Southern Carmine (usually at colonies Oct-Nov), Lilac-breasted and Racket-tailed Rollers, African Hoopoe, Green Woodhoopoe, Southern Ground Hornbill, barbets, honeyguides including Brown-backed Honeybird, woodpeckers, African Broadbill, Chin-spot Batis, Retz’s and White-crested Helmetshrikes, Grey-headed and Sulphur-breasted Bushshrikes, Magpie and Souza’s Shrikes, orioles, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Eastern Nicator, Spotted Creeper, greenbuls, Black-necked Eremomela, Southern and Yellow-bellied Hyliotas, Collared Flycatcher (mostly Nov-Mar), Bocage’s Akalat, Arnot’s Chat, Collared Palm Thrush, Groundscraper Thrush, Miombo Rock Thrush, Hartlaub’s Babbler, starlings including Meves’s Glossy and Red-winged, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, sunbirds including Anchieta’s, Purple-banded and Scarlet-chested, Rosy-breasted and Yellow-throated Longclaws, weavers including Bar-winged and Parsitic (Cuckoo Finch), Chestnut-backed Sparrow Weaver, bishops, widowbirds, waxbills, Peters’s Twinspot and Golden-breasted Bunting. Also a chance of Shoebill (especially in May), Goliath Heron, African Finfoot, Chestnut-headed and Red-chested Flufftails, Lesser Jacana, Bronze-winged Courser, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Locustfinch.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Nile Crocodile.

    Other Natural Wonders in Zambia

    Victoria Falls
    In the local language these falls are known as mosi-oa-tunya which in English means ‘smoke that thunders’. These spectacular falls which can be seen close up are 108 m (360 ft) high and 1.7 km (1.1 mile) wide, making them the highest of the ‘big three’ (with Niagara and Iguassu Falls). The amount of water varies considerably from season to season with the most usually occurring between February and May, peaking in April, though sometimes as late as July.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Zambia

    Best Times for Wildlife in Zambia

    The dry season usually lasts from June to October. At the end of this period many birds and mammals congregate around the remaining areas of water, making them easier to find. Southern Carmine Bee-eaters usually begin nesting in September and can be seen at their colonies in October and November. Millions of Straw-coloured Fruit Bats usually arrive in Kasanka NP at the beginning of the wet season with numbers peaking in November. The wet usually lasts from November to April, usually peaking January to March, and this is the best time to track down African Pitta, especially December-January. The end of the wet season, in April-May, when water levels are usually at their highest and the country is at its greenest, is the best time to look for African Wild Dogs in Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks, and Shoebill and Black Lechwe in Bangweulu Wetlands.

    Recommended Books etc. for Zambia

    Stuarts' Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa by C and M Stuart. Random House Struik, 2015 (Revised Edition).

    The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2015 (Second Revised Edition).

    The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2016 (Second Edition).

    SASOL Birds of Southern Africa by I Sinclair et al. C Struik, 2011 (Fourth Edition).

    Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Newman's Birds by Colour by K Newman. C Struik, 2011 (Third Edition).

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by K and V Newman. C Struik, 2010 (Tenth Edition).

    Roberts Bird Guide edited by H Chittenden. Africa Geographic, 2007.

    Southern African Birdfinder by C Cohen and C Spottiswoode. New Holland Publishers, 2005.

    The Birds of Zambia by R J Dowsett et al. Tauraco Press, 2008.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Mammals of Southern Africa

    Kingdon eGuide to African Mammals.

    Audubon African Wildlife.

    SASOL eBirds of Southern Africa.

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa.

    Roberts Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa.

    Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Zambia

    Many trip reports, some for Zambia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Zambia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Zambia' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Zambia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.


    Accommodation in Zambia


    Some Organized Tours to Zambia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Zambia include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.