Zambia National Parks

Zambia National Parks

Zambia has an impressive number of protected areas. There are 21 Zambia national parks and 36 game reserves (considered a buffer zone between protected and developed zones). These protected areas cover about 31% of the country’s surface.

 In addition to these Zambia national parks the best wildlife viewing in the world, the country also offers Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and dozens of beautiful waterfalls.

We have compiled a summary of 21 Zambia national parks and hope this guide will help you make a to-do list when planning for a safari in Africa to this Southern Africa country.

While some of the Zambia national parks can definitely be overlooked, others are worth a visit, especially if you want to explore more remote parts of the country.

A-Z List of 21 Zambia National Parks

Blue Lagoon National Park

Zambia National Parks

120 km west of Lusaka, Blue Lagoon is located north of the Kafue River. This is one of the Zambia national parks that offers excellent bird watching opportunities. It is prone to flooding and rarely sees tourists due to limited infrastructure and difficult access.

Isangano National Park

Established in 1972, this 80 km² national park is located east of Lake Bangweulu and is one of the Zambia national parks that experiences similar seasonal flooding. It lacks wild animals and is not worth visiting.

Kafue National Park

Zambia National Parks

One of the largest national parks in the world, Kafue NP was established in 192. This is one of those Zambia national parks known worldwide for its amazing animal population. You should travel on a Zambia safari here and combine with South Luangwa or even alone.

Kasanka National Park

Kasanka NP is among the smallest of Zambia national parks (only 390 km²). However, it hosts the world’s largest bat migration from October to November, when nearly 10 million African straw-haired fruit bats visit the park.

 Lavushi Manda National Park

Zambia National Parks

This is among the Zambia national parks that offers stunning scenery with undulating terrain (Lavushi mountains peak at 1,800 meters) and waterfalls.

It is home to an interesting bird species, although the number of mammals has decreased. Great for hiking, game drives/walking and fishing can also be arranged.

Liuwa Plain National Park

This area has been recognized for its wildlife for over a century, although it was mainly used as a hunting ground for the King of Lozi.

It has now become one of the most exciting Zambia national parks in the region, especially thanks to its huge wildebeest herds and their so-called migration.

 Lochinvar National Park

Zambia National Parks

Known for its birdlife and Kafue Lechwe, the park is very similar to Blue Lagoon National Park on the other side of Kafue. There are also some hot springs and some unique points of interest.

The Lower Zambezi National Park

This is one of the Zambia national parks that covers only a small part of the Lower Zambezi Valley, which stretches from  Lake Kariba (more specifically, its dam) to the border with Mozambique.

This park shares the Zambezi River with Zimbabwe and is home to a wide variety of fauna. It is famous for its water-based safaris that allow you to get quite close to the grazing elephants on the Lower Zambezi Chiawa Safari.

Luambe National Park

One of the oldest Zambia national parks, Luambe NP is a very small area at only 25 km². It is located between South and North Luangwa National Parks, with similar ecosystems.

Lukusuzi National Park

Zambia National Parks

Located on the eastern side of the Luangwa Valley. It is among the undeveloped of Zambia national parks without facilities and the amount of wildlife is basically unknown.

Lusaka National Park

Opened in 2015, it is the youngest park in Zambia and is the closest to the country’s capital, being only 15 km away. It is popular with locals for a day or weekend trip as it is among the most accessible of Zambia national parks.

Lusenga Plain National Park

This park has three very beautiful waterfalls and great walks. However, there is very little wildlife, although animals have been resettled since 2007, it still remains among the underdeveloped Zambia national parks without infrastructure.

Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) National Park

This is among the top destination of all Zambia national parks. It is home of Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya means “thunder smoke”. The park is spread along the Zambezi River (upstream and downstream) and is home to a small population of highly guarded white rhinoceros.

Mweru Wantipa National Park

Another of Zambia national parks with potential for restoration. Mweru Wantipa consists mostly of a lake and swamp similar to the Bangweulu wetland.

Ngonye Falls National Park

This area is rarely officially listed but was registered as a national park in 2009. It is home to the spectacular Ngonye Falls (commonly called Sioma Falls) and an exciting destination for adventure travelers.

North Luangwa National Park

Zambia National Parks

This is among the Zambia national parks that allows you to experience Africa as it was. You won’t want to miss this wild and untouched area – especially for bushwalking.

You can bring 2 Zambia national parks by easily be combined with an extended Zambia safari in South Luangwa National Park.

Nsumbu National Park (also known as Sumbu)

Located at the northern tip of Zambia, this national park, which covers a small part of Lake Tanganyika, appears to have a promising future and already offers game drives, guided walks and bird watching, as well as great fishing on the lake

Nyika Plateau National Park

Zambia National Parks

This is an extension of the national park on the Malawian side, this is one of those Zambia national parks known for its landscape and flora and offers excellent hiking opportunities and unusual wildlife.

Sioma Ngwezi National Park

It is among the largely neglected Zambia national parks. This is Zambia’s third largest national park located in the southwest corner of Zambia (bordering Angola and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip) and should see some revival in the future.

South Luangwa National Park

Arguably one of the most famous Zambia national parks, it can claim to be at the top of Africa’s best nature reserves thanks to its incredible density and diversity.

West Lungwa National Park

Zambia National Parks

Although the West Lunga National Park may improve somewhat in the future, it is mostly a bush reserve with larger game generally depleted. Boat trips and fishing are still available on the river.

Learn More about Important Zambia National Parks

1.      South Luangwa National Park

Nicknamed The Valley of the Leopard, South Luangwa is particularly famous for its high density of leopards, but the diversity of game is actually quite remarkable.

South Luangwa National Park is usually at the top of everyone’s list when planning a safari to Zambia, and it’s not hard to say why. With an abundance of animals, stunning sunsets and an abundance of birds, there is something for almost everyone.

The South Luangwa is also popular for “walking safaris” from where they originate, which are a must-see.

In total, the park is home to more than 60 species of animals and 00 species of birds. This makes it one of the strongest concentrations of wildlife in Zambia.

Best Time to visit Zambia to South Luangwa

The rainy season in South Luangwa ends at the end of March, beginning of April. It’s the best time to visit South Luangwa and enjoy great time watching birds because everything is still green. Sightings of species such as herons and gray cranes are common.

May-October is the dry season. Vegetation thins and game viewing becomes easier as animals congregate near the remaining water of the Luangwa River.

There are about 50 hippos in every kilometer of the Luangwa River. It is not uncommon to find a huge herd in the water.

Game drives are a great way to discover some of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife. In South Luangwa, you can also take night drives to watch predators on the move.  The African wild dog population is now reported to be the largest in Zambia

2. Kafue National Park

Imagine a national park the size of Wales!  Kafue National Park is approximately 22,500 square kilometers in size. The largest of Zambia national parks and the second largest on the continent remains inaccessible.

Kafue is also known for  its biodiversity, similar to South Luangwa, although cheetahs and roan, sable and lechwa antelopes are of particular interest.

Best time to visit Kafue National Park

The best time to visit Zambia and head to Kafue is from June to October. The dry season is in full swing and access is easier as parts of the park can be quite flooded.

However, if you are willing to put up with the roads and heavy rains, the park is amazing during the rainy season. From November to April, Kafue becomes a green paradise, but the choice of accommodation is very limited.

Busunga Plains is home to one of the park’s most iconic birds.  Wattle Grues nest in these park floodplains. If you are lucky, you may spot a cheetah hunting in the open grasslands.

Among the Zambia national parks,Kafue NP is the only park where you can enjoy a hot air balloon.

3. Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park has the hallmarks of a true African adventure: the slow winding Zambezi River, rugged cliffs and dense acacia forests.

Before the Lower Zambezi was officially declared a national park, it was the private game reserve of the President of Zambia until 1983, which ironically helped preserve the pristine beauty of the park.

The Lower Zambezi Valley stretches from the Caribbean Dam to the Mozambique border and  has a huge reputation for big game – especially elephants and buffalo.

Kayaking is an undeniably popular pastime on the slow-moving Zambezi and a great way to see hippos and elephants.

Game drives and bush walks take you into denser forest to see leopards and wild dogs.  If you enjoy fishing, most campgrounds have catch and releases.

4. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park – “Smoke That Roar”

 Mosi-oa-Tunya is a conservation area that covers much of the land surrounding Victoria Falls, as well as the upper and lower rivers.

The park takes its name from the thunderous “smoke” produced by the falls themselves, which rises upwards as the Zambezi rushes down the gorge in full force.

Compared to parks like Kafue, Mosi-oa-Tunya is among the smallest of Zambia national parks, covering only 66 square kilometers. But what it lacks in looks, it makes up for.

This small park is home to the world’s largest waterfall and is why many people travel to Zambia.

Best time to visit Mosi-oa-Tunya

The Zambezi River is at its strongest in February-April, so visiting the falls is (very) wet. May-July is probably the best time to see the falls without getting wet.

A month later, the river dries up significantly and the falls are less impressive – although they never dry up completely.

For the more daring, there is the Victoria Falls Gorge Swing. 95m long swing, 120m high, 70m free fall – now that’s worth a lot of shouting!

For the less adventurous, bird watching along the river is exceptional. The park is home to a number of white rhinos and their armed security guards are always guarding them as ordered by the government. Seeing these rare animals in Zambia is a privilege.

In conclusion

Magnificent waterfalls, vast African bush, flowering swamps, the wildlife experience in Zambia is unforgettable. The nature here is diverse, unpredictable and always exciting.

From the remote Zambezi trails to the luxury safaris of South Luangwa, Zambia is one of those unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime destinations.