Zambia offers an off the beaten track, unspoilt and less crowded safari experience, making it hugely popular with second- or third-time safari goers. It is renowned for walking safaris giving you a chance explore the wilderness on foot which allows you to immerse yourself in nature, observe smaller details and gain a more detailed understanding of the complex ecosystem which supports some of the most magnificent animals on the planet from incredible birdlife to mysterious leopards.
But with a huge variety of lodges to choose from, how do you choose where to stay? To help you, we’ve broken Zambia up into the three main areas safari goers explore; Kafue National Park at one end of the country, South Luangwa at the other and the Lower Zambezi in the middle. We’ve also included a few more far-flung options for those looking to get truly off the beaten track.
First up, it’s South Luangwa, the most popular park in Zambia due to its beautiful locations and plentiful wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, hippos, buffalo, and a variety of antelope species. The park is particularly famous for its leopard sightings and is fondly called the ‘Valley of Leopards’. South Luangwa is home to a wide range of accommodations.
1. Flatdogs Camp
Flatdogs is one of my favourite camps in Africa. It is an excellent mid-range option and the most affordable camp in the area. Situated along the banks of the Luangwa River, it has stunning views and the pool here is great to relax around after a day of game drives.
It’s range of accommodation is perfect for families & couples, and they have the Crocodiles Nest 2-bedroom villa complete with a viewing deck and pool is perfect for a family or two couples travelling together (they have specific family-friendly activities available too).
The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly with welcoming staff, and the food is always popular.
Safari purists may find the area around the main entrance to the park a little busy, but all first-time safari goers and most repeat visitors will be delighted with the camp, the area and its wildlife.
One of the newest properties in the park, Puku Ridge was built from scratch on the site of an existing lodge in 2019. Situated on a ridge overlooking the beautiful floodplain, all the rooms overlook a lagoon and one of the standout features of the camp is that each room has a tower with its own star bed so you’re free to sleep in or out as you choose without having to make a special reservation.
Each room as its own star bed
Small, luxury camp
Best for: Romantic adventures – sleep out under the stars
3. Kafunta Camps
Kafunta have 3 camps in the South Luangwa; Kafunta Lodge, Three Rivers and Island Bushcamp. It’s possible to combine all 3 camps in a lovely immersive circuit of the area, and for the more adventurous we highly recommend walking between Three Rivers and Island Bushcamp, which is set in a remote part of the park where visitors are few and you are unlikely to have to share your sightings with other visitors.
Lion Camp’s greatest asset is its location as the furthest North camp accessible from Mfuwe. The lagoons and rich riverine vegetation and mixed woodland around the camp support a great density of game and sightings are usually excellent. It’s a luxurious camp with a high standard of service, and children under 12 are only accepted if the entire camp is booked on an exclusive basis.
Luxurious tented chalets
Prime location in a remote part of the National Park
I’ve included Luwi on this list as it’s one of Zambia’s best examples of a traditional bush camp, and is in a really remote location. There are few roads and most of the game viewing is on foot. Luwi is often used as a start point for a walking safari taking in other Norman Carr bushcamps further downstream.
The Lower Zambezi National Park has a great reputation for game viewing and if time permits should feature on a Zambian safari itinerary. It is on the opposite bank to Zimbabwe’s famous Mana Pools National Park and elephants don’t respect border controls, cross the river and are often found feeding on the islands that dot the river.
Activities here feature canoeing or boat cruises as well as the traditional game drives and walks.
One of African Bush Camp’s newest lodges, Lolobezi is all about style. It has beautiful and striking interiors with lots of quirky design features. The suites are super luxurious with plunge pools and huge verandas.
Style is backed up by substance and it’s in a fantastic position in the middle of the Lower Zambezi National Park and game viewing in the area is excellent.
One kilometre of private river frontage
Waking up meters from the mighty Zambezi
Boating and kayaking with hippos and elephants
Best for: Stylish safari & relaxation
Set close to the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers Chongwe is a lovely intimate camp with just 8 tents. The camp's location provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing right from the comfort of the camp. It’s traditional in style and a more affordable option in the Lower Zambezi where a lot of camps are now quite expensive.
Intimate and traditional camp
Great location with views of both the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers
Sleep out under the stars high on the Zambezi escarpment
Kafue is Zambia's biggest and oldest National Park, and the central area is easily accessible by road from Lusaka. The camps here are open year-round whilst the Busanga Plains further North are flooded in the summer months so only open from June through until the end of October. Kafue is home to a wider variety of species than any other Park in Zambia, Red Lechwe, Sable and Roan which are uncommon in other Parks are often seen here as are Wild-dog and Cheetah.
8. Chisa Busanga
What I love most about Chisa Busanga are it’s unique nest rooms, elevated high above the ground, and offering great views of the surrounding area. There are only 4 rooms and a communal dining and relaxation area with a small pool.
It’s located in the Busanga Plains in the north of Kafue and the savannah is home to plenty of lions as well as all the plains game that they like to eat!
Chisa Busanga is part of the Green Safaris property portfolio so it has an electric vehicle to enjoy silent safaris, and some e-bikes for guests who would like a little exercise.
Amazing quirky nest rooms
Located in a remote and exclusive area, only accessible for part of the year
Paradise for bird watchers
Best for: Remote and authentic safaris
KaingU is a small intimate camp in a remote area. It’s located on the eastern bank of the Kafue river, just outside the National Park, and has only 4 meru-style safari tents and one family house that has two bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, and a central living area. All have lovely private decks overlooking the river.
There are also 3 Tonga ‘Tree Baskets’, little private sleepout treehouses for adventurous nights under the stars.
Activities include bird-watching, boat cruises, canoeing and fishing on the river as well as walks and game drives inside the National Park
Canoe trails on the Kafue River
Back to basics sleepouts in the trees
Best for: Water based adventures
10. King Lewanika Lodge
Liuwa Plains is one of the oldest and most pristine parks in Africa, originally designated as a royal hunting ground by the Lozi king, Lubosi Lewanika in the 1880s. Now it’s home to one of the highest concentrations of hyena on the continent, and the best place to observe these amazing predators. It’s also home to the remarkable and luxurious King Lewanka Lodge, where high-end and spacious villas blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Each villa features elegant design, modern amenities, en-suite bathrooms, and private decks overlooking the vast plains.
Cultural interaction with the Lozi people
Outstanding conservation in partnership with African Parks Foundation
Ultra remote location
Best for: Enjoying the Hyena nocturnal soundtrack in luxury!
The Zambezi close to Livingstone is the perfect option for a chill out post safari in Zambia (or Botswana as it’s so close to the Bots border). Here you can either do nothing but watch the waters roll past, or you can fish, paddle or take boat cruises. It’s also the perfect location to visit Vic Falls as you’re only 20 minutes away. A sunset cruise with a glass of something cold is an absolute must!
11. Waterberry Lodge
Waterberry is my personal favourite lodge in the Livingstone area. It’s located about 20 minutes drive from Livingstone, so you’re close enough to explore the falls early in the morning before it gets busy, and then you can retreat back to Waterberry’s lush gardens and enjoy the peace & quiet.
The main lodge has 7 rooms, sleeping between 2 & 4 guests, the Woodlands are 3 safari style tents with large en suite bathrooms sleeping 2 guests, and the River Farmhouse is an exclusive use house sleeping between 8 – 10.
The team at Waterberry are warm and so hospitable, the food is great, the rooms are comfortable and it’s just lovely to be there! House activities include boating, sunset cruises, fishing, guided bird walks and trips to visit the falls as well as community visits to see some of the projects that are funded by Waterberry.
Tongabezi is a more luxurious option and closer to Livingstone. It has 5 River Cottages, and 7 Houses, sleeping between 2 and 8 guests. The houses feature plunge pools or outdoor baths all with stunning views of the river. The style is boho-chic, and it’s a favourite with Zambia honeymooners and romantics.
Beautiful guest ‘houses’
Visiting Victoria Falls
Falling asleep meters above the Zambezi
Best for: the most romantic end to a Zambia safari.
These are just a handful of our favourite safari lodges, but where is right for you to stay will depend on what you’re looking for and your budget, so if you’d like to plan a Zambia safari, get in touch today and we’ll create one tailored to your personal needs.