ZAMBIA – Eight years ago I visited Zimbabwe and afterwards always felt like southern Africa was one of my favorite places on earth. Yet I could never be sure if this was true or if I was just romanticizing my first trip outside of North America. Zambia made me realize that I was right all along. Seeing a way of life that is so drastically different then ours, a landscape that is so different than ours, and animals that should be mythological all combine for the trip of a lifetime. Zambia is lucky enough to have a very eclectic geography as far as southern Africa goes. Livingstone is quickly approaching the “over tourism” border as it takes on most of the tourism from across the Zambezi in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Still, just the sight of the falls is a must, let alone the tons of adventure options at your fingertips.
Personally, though, the best experience is taking advantage of the amazing game parks and reserves in South Luangwa. After having seen Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, I didn’t think it could be topped, but I was wrong. Animal life is teeming here. We were able to see all of the big 5 (with the exception of the rhino which sadly has been poached out of the park) and even take a few night and walking safaris. A trip here isn’t all fun though as it’s very sobering to speak with rural farmers and see the pride they have in their dust-bowl fields and the miracle that is the crop, and to realize that behind Botswana, Zambia has the worst HIV/AIDS situation on Earth. Its effect is not clear until you are their and see the effects first hand (IE mass funeral ceremonies for AIDS victims taking place outdoors under a tree in the hot African sun).
BEST OF ZAMBIA – Devil’s pool swim on the edge of Victoria Falls, rafting the Zambezi, South Luangwe park, staying in a tree blind for the night and having a pride of lions walk under you … wow! A great way to experience real Africa outside the normal Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa.
WORST OF ZAMBIA – Livingstone is in danger of being ruined by over tourism so see it now before it turns into Niagara Falls. HIV/AIDS, it’s a bigger problem than you can possibly imagine.
Photos by Scott Wilson