Zambia’s Hidden Gems

Zambia’s Hidden Gems

27/08/2013 0 By Gayle Dickson

While the popular attractions in Zambia are well known : the fantastic wildlife, exciting safaris, the magnificent views of Victoria Falls, the panoramic lakes, the mighty Zambezi and the excellent variety of adrenaline adventures and relaxing activities, it is Zambia’s unique qualities and off-the-beaten- track treasures that keep bringing people back.

Many visitors to Zambia say one of the most memorable things about the country is the nature of the people themselves. Stories abound with tales of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and within minutes faces will pop up to offer help, and one way or another, a plan will be made to get you on the road again.

Or ask directions and you may find that you too are asked many questions. Zambian’s are well known for their curious and friendly nature. Most speak excellent English and have a considered opinion about worldly matters. Despite the obvious poverty of the majority of Zambia’s inhabitants, most have a positive disposition and an entrepreneurial nature. The downtown streets are abuzz with informal street sellers and stalls.

Zambia2Zambia has 73 tribes, and many have a deep history of how they arrived in this part of the world. These stories are preserved, honoured and celebrated with various annualTraditional Ceremonies that will add a sparkle to your holiday if you are lucky enough to coincide with one of these gems. They are usually private affairs but they have no problem if visitors wish to attend. Each has a different way of honouring their ancestors but the celebrations usually include lots of singing, dancing and feasting. The ZambiaTourism website has a list of which ones happen each month so if you are travelling in Zambia it is well worth finding out if you can attend one.

Other little-known gems are the numerous waterfalls to be found along the country’s many remote rivers. Zambia is blessed with abundant water resources with over a third of all the water in Southern Africa. Fifteen stunning waterfalls are found in the Northern Province alone. Zambian-based travel agents can arrange custom-designed chauffeur-driven tours to take you off the beaten track, popping into settlements along the way for an experience of authentic village life. Many say engaging with the rural folk leaves one with a deeper feeling for the country than the best views of Victoria Falls or good wildlife sightings.

Zambia has some of Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries that teem with game, but it is the smaller lesser-known parks that offer the avid birder exceptional habitats to explore, many with over 500 different bird species to spot. There are no predators in the smaller parks so one can take leisurely walks through the bush on birding safaris.

Zambia1Kapishya Hot Springs is another gem not widely known to mainstream travellers. In the early 1900s an Englishman came upon a beautiful, natural pool in the remote Northern Province with hot water bubbling up from it, before it flowed into the river. He decided to buy the land and build his house nearby overlooking Lake Shiwa. This beautiful old manor house, called Shiwa Ngandu, has been renovated by his grandson. Another grandson runs the Kapishya Hot Springs Lodge. It can be found just beyond the small town of Mpika, on the Great North Road.

Liuwa Plains National Park is another of the smaller parks, off the beaten track, but the effort to get to this gem is well worth it. Each year thousands of blue wildebeest migrate across the plains and provide a spectacular sight. Herds of lechwe, tsessebe and zebra also abound, and the attendant predators are wild dog, hyena, cheetah and lion. More than 330 bird species have been recorded here.  Liuwa can be accessed during the dry season between 1 June and 15 December. Self-drive, 4×4 enthusiasts can stay at one of four community camp sites established in the Park. Otherwise, fly-in safaris are offered in May, June and December.

Lake Tanganyika is a hidden gem that graces Zambia’s northern-most border, and lodges along her shores offer access to the delights of this, the second deepest lake in the world, habitat of a wide variety of tropical fish. There are few visitors because of its remote location and access is either a long drive from Lusaka or air charter to Kasama. But for those who love unusual holidays far from the madding crowds, this ocean-like lake has much to offer. Watersports, excellent fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, warm water and sandy beaches. Game viewing is also possible within the nearby Nsumbu National Park which is also on the Lake shore.

Zambia is still known as the ‘real Africa’ with many hidden gems that delight the intrepid explorer. Find out more at


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