"Zambia - African nutshell" Top 5 Page for this destination Zambia by Saagar

Zambia Travel Guide: 707 reviews and 1,735 photos

Zambian layout - the butterfly nation

Zambia is a funny-kind-of-place. People who visit go back home either loving the place or disliking it. But the country leaves nobody indifferent. Zambia encompasses many types of African landscapes, and thus it can be said to be Africa in a nutshell. It is mostly a savanna and drylands landscape, with some low mountain ranges, hills and escarpments, and parts of the Rift Valley. Three main rivers (Luangwa, Kafue and the Zambezi) cut across the country, and feed extensive wetlands and lakes along their courses - and the Victoria Falls. Despite human encroachment, mining, dam building and poaching, Zambia is host to a multitude of savanna and wetland animals. Bing animal migrations like in Kenya and Tanzania take place here.
A very good thing about Zambia is its relative peacefulness. Despite a very turbulent history of past tribalism and horrible colonialism and whites-run "independent" Northern Rhodesia, and political upheavels since independence in 1964, there remains a sense of basic calm and safety here. The colonial mapping left Zambia looking butterly-shaped, almost cut in two halves by Congo (Kinshasa). The borders do not correspond to any ethnic or linguistic boundaries, and bordering no less than 8 other countries. This has left a troubled ethnic, security and transport legacy. Zambia's fortunes go in ups and downs with the world market price of copper, which is mined in the north-central part of the country, in the region called the Copperbelt. Tourism is increasing its importance in the national economy.
For a visitor, the larger cities generally do not have too much to behold, but the savannas and the fertile valleys hold some of the finest places and sights in Africa.


Lusaka enjoys a central geographical location in Zambia with rail and air connections to other parts of the country. The city itself is rather non-descript and probably fairly boring in the long run. For tourists, the main attractions are located outside Lusaka, along the rivers Kafue, Luangwa and the Zambezi, plus the relatively unknown northern part up towards the Great Lakes. Lusaka serves as a hub to reach these places for safaris, fishing and other activities. Chance is that Lusaka will be your transit point and clearinghouse for things to do and how to do it. Lusaka is bigger than the looks of its immediate city centre with the central government and state institutions and centres of commerce and finance. Large tracts of unplanned and "informal" housing mar the outskirts of Lusaka, too. But Lusaka has its good sides; good food and a variety of accommodation possibilities and some entertainment. And tourism infrastructure works apparently quite well. But transport services remain the difficult part.

Highlights of Zambia

As I was stuck in Lusaka for most of my time in Zambia, and my tips concentrate on that city. For the rest of the country I can only recommend what others have told me:
1) Victoria Falls, associated touristic activities in Livingstone town.
2) National parks: Kafue, South Luangwa, Liuwa Plains, Bangwaeulu and and others.
3) Fishing in Lake Kariba, Lake Mweru, Zambesi, Luangwa River.
4) Railway transit Livingstone-Lusaka-Kapiri Mposhi-Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (the last part by Tazra railway).
5) Learning to know the land and the people the slow way, sampling local food and culture on the way.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:THE African landscape! Safe, peaceful and friendly
  • Cons:Long travel distances, transport difficulties, poverty
  • In a nutshell:Africa in a nutshell
  • Last visit to Zambia: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (26)

Comments (4)

  • elp's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2009 at 7:11 AM

    Nice page. Thx.

  • eli034's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2007 at 10:13 AM

    Flott at jeg nå kan dra nytte av den kunnskapen du har samlet gjennom alle dine reiser. Jeg planlegger en reise fra Kenya til Gambia med bil. Jeg har forresten en liten hytte på Zanzibar.ELI, Bergen, Norge

  • Rusket's Profile Photo
    Jan 29, 2007 at 4:44 AM

    Skjønner ikke helt hvorfor din side er lenger nede enn min, når den er så mye bedre. Så jeg tenkte jeg skulle gjøre noe med saken :-)

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2006 at 7:02 AM

    An excellent page on your Zambia experiences! Glad to hear that things are still manageable there. My wife & I had problems with SAA in Harare in 1995 but they got us onto a BA flight to London with only 12 hours delay!


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