by Thanda Mhlanga on April 25, 2018
7 min read

The secret’s finally out on Zambia. Long overshadowed by its more popular neighbours, it’s now getting the attention it deserves. Increasingly viewed as one of Africa’s most authentic safari destinations, it has captivated visitors with its unspoiled landscapes – including 20 national parks and 16 waterfalls – rich wildlife and an abundance of amusements. And simply because we can’t highlight them all, these are the top, cannot miss, once-in-a-lifetime, must-do activities in Zambia.

Walking Safaris

South Luangwa National Park is one of the best spots for a walking safari in Zambia

A walking safari in South Luangwa National Park
Picture credit: South Luangwa

Zambia has some of the best terrain for walking safaris, in fact, its where the concept originated. With its game-abundant riverine forests and parks that are easy to navigate, you’re almost guaranteed animal encounters. This type of exploration not only places you right there in the middle of the action, on the same plain as lions, elephants and hippos, it invokes a specific reverence in those fortunate enough to experience it.

The South Luangwa National Park, said to be the walking safari’s birthplace, offers the most compelling walking safaris. An armed guide and scout accompany on your journey – for your safety and to ensure that you get the best encounters and sights – as you’re immersed in the wilderness where your senses are naturally heightened. On a walking safari, you’re placed on the same level as Africa’s wild creatures, to observe the circle of life in full motion without the restrictions or barriers of a vehicle. You also get intimate insight into the inner-workings of these primal eco-systems and the chance to encounter its most formidable members. To have this amazing experience, be sure to consider any of these trusted accommodations that offer walking safaris as part of their service.

a walking safari at South Luangwa National Park is one of the must-do activities in Zambia

A giraffe spotted on walking safari
Photo credit: Mfuwe Lodge

FYI

  • Wondering how close you’ll actually get to the animals? Not as close as you would on a safari vehicle but it’ll feel that way. For many people, walking amongst the animals feels more real an encounter than the one on a game drive.
  • Though the danger is minimal, walking safaris do invoke a “fight or flight” response in those who participate – there’s nothing quite like making eye contact with a wild animal and knowing how vulnerable you are in comparison.
  • Walking safaris are certainly not without risk but these can be minimised. Selecting a reputable walking safari provider is one way as they will ensure that you journey with qualified guides who will enrich your experience and make sure that you stay clear of dangerous situations and creatures. Guides will also keep you at a safe distance and one of them will be armed as a last resort.
  • Remember to wear earthy colours so as to blend into the landscape and not draw attention to yourself. Beige, browns and greens are recommended as are sturdy walking boots and a protective wide-brimmed hat.

Bungee Jumping

Victorial Falls offers one of the most thrilling bungee jumps in the world

The epic leap off the Victoria Falls Bridge
Photo credit: Lee Abbamonte

For many, the bungee-jump off Victoria Falls Bridge is one of the most exhilarating ones anywhere in the world. You’re basically falling towards one of the most famed rivers on the continent with an iconic waterfall as your backdrop.

There’s a reason why the Victoria Falls makes the list of our four spectacular places to visit in Zambia. Even before you make your great leap, you get the most breathtakingly panoramic views. The sound of the powerful Falls echoes in your ears as your harnesses are attached before your momentous plunge head-first towards the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge with its treacherous grade-5 rapids. One of the highest commercial bungee-jumps, it’s not for the faint-hearted but certainly is one of the must-do activities in Zambia for the brave and daring.

The smokey Victoria Falls from a unique vantage

A view from the Zambian side of Victoria Falls
Photo credit: Roberto De Micheli Photography

FYI

  • You can book your bungee-jump through an operating agency. You can also just pay on arrival at the bridge. We recommend booking into one of the trusted accommodations that offer bungee jumping in the area.
  • The minimum age is 14 but under 18s need to have a parent or guardian there who must sign the indemnity form. The minimum weight is 40kg and the maxim is 140kg.
  • The bridge is in a “no man’s land” between Zambia and Zimbabwe so you’ll have to let immigration control know that you’re staying on it and not crossing over to the other side. Don’t forget your passport!

Canoeing

A canoe safari will allow you to get incredibly close to wildlife

A canoe safari down Lower Zambezi National Park
Picture credit: Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro

A canoe adventure down the lower Zambezi is one of the most thrilling activities that Zambia has to offer. This type of safari will take you through the section of the Zambezi that’s bordered by National Parks on both sides. From this vantage, you can sight hippos, zebras, kudu, waterbuck, baboons and elephants and a bask of crocodiles on its banks. An armed river guide will escort you down the most populous channels where opportunities to get close to game abound.

FYI

  • There are daily departures all-year-round for half-day or full-day excursions. Some service provides run overnight trips with stays at fitted-out bush camps on the banks of the river. For a selection of the best ones click here.
  • The minimum age for accompanied children varies depending on the operator. Some allow children as young as 8 and for others, the age limit starts at 14 with no maximum age.
  • Pack comfortable clothes, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, polarised sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

Hot Air Ballooning

Exploring its glorious landscapes via hot air balloon is one of the must-do activities in Zambia

A hot balloon flying over Kafue National Park
Photo credit: (Wajahat Mahmood/Flickr)

Kafue National Park, more specifically the Busanga Plains, offers amazing opportunities for the aerial exploration of its landscape. Hot air balloon rides over its vast terrain provide epic views of leafy groves, rugged lagoons, floodplains and, of course, magnificent wildlife. These journeys offer a bird’s eye view of buffalo, red lechwe, puku, lions, elephants and much more, with the slow pace of the balloon giving indulgent sights of these animals in their natural habitat. From the moment you embark on this ride, just before dawn’s early light, to when the  serene isolation of floating above mother nature’s unspoiled creations hits you, you’ll have no doubt that Africa’s one of the most magical places on earth.

FYI

  • Hot Air Ballooning season begins in Kafue National Park from the beginning of August until the end of October.
  • For a list of accommodations offering hot air ballooning, click here.

Devil’s Pool

Devils Pool in Victoria Falls is one the ultimate must-do activities in Zambia.

Swimming on the edge of Victoria Falls
Image credit: Joe Pyrek

On the edge of Zambian side of the legendary Victoria Falls lies Devil’s Pool, an infinity pool formed by thousands of years of erosion, which draw thrill-seekers to its waters each year. Adjacent to the renowned Livingstone Island, it offers revellers the chance to swim literally to the edge of the falls in what is one of our 35 African experiences you need to have before you die.

Those who’ve experienced this activity laud its adrenaline pumping effects – there’s nothing quite like swimming on the extremity of an epic waterfall, it’s hefty curtain-like cascade crashing right in front of you as you float ahead with only a protruding rock lip keeping you from falling over the edge.

To get to Devil’s Pool you must take a short swim in the Zambezi from Livingstone Island. Guides will accompany you as you navigate its breadth, to assist you and ensure your safety. Be sure to book with one of these accommodations offering this unforgettable adventure, which forms part of a Livingstone Island Tour.

A man and woman swimming in the Devil's Pool in Zambia

The thrilling Devil’s Pool experience

  • Yes crocodiles and hippos roam the area, your guides are there to look-out for them, although, a close encounter with them is rare.
  • The swim to where the pool is located happens on a shallow bit of the Zambezi. Because you can stand in this water, it is unlikely that you will swept away.
  • Depending on the water levels in the Zambezi, the pool is usually open between mid August and mid January
  • Kids must be 10 years old to swim Devil’s Pool.

Before you make your journey to great Zambia, be sure to check out our in-depth FAQ on all you need to know about travelling in Zambia. It will help you feel that much more prepared for your thrilling journey to where all the must-do activities in Zambia await.