The 4092 square kilometer Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s premier wildlife destinations. Bounded by the Zambezi escarpment to the north and the enormous Zambezi River to the south, this extremely picturesque park is renowned for its dramatic scenery and forms part of the southernmost extent of the Great East African Rift Valley.
Officially gazetted in 1983, this relatively new national park “adjoins” the Zimbabwean World Heritage Site, Mana Pools Reserve, which is situated on the opposite river bank and thus creates a natural transfrontier wildlife sanctuary.
The diverse habitats create fantastic land and water-based game viewing opportunities. Elephant, buffalo, hippo, leopard and lion occur together with a wealth of other wildlife.
In some regions the river is up to 2km in width, the clear water with its reed lined banks and quieter side channels provide the perfect environment for fishing and canoeing safaris, for which the park is famous.
Fishing: Anglers will be thrilled with some of the most spectacular fresh water sport fishing in the world. The legendary Tigerfish (a relative of the piranha) is a feisty and highly sought after catch whilst the Vundu (a catfish) weighing over 50kg provides equally interesting sport. All fishing in the park is catch and release. Spinning, fly and bait casting is available.
Canoeing: Drifting peacefully along with the current is a memorable and relaxing way for nature lovers to experience this beautiful river. Lodges offer short morning excursions to multi-day mobile safaris.
THE PARK DETAILS
Common animals include elephant, buffalo and hippo, with healthy numbers of lion and leopard. Zebra, impala and kudu also occur in addition to smaller mammals such as the side striped jackal; dwarf, slender & banded mongoose; large spotted genet; civet; honey badger and porcupine.
The Lower Zambezi Valley provides for excellent birding with about 300 of Zambia’s 732 species occurring in the area.
Fishing enthusiasts who prefers to have their own equipment should bring.
Spinning and Bait Casting Tackle
This is definitely the most challenging way to land a Tiger and just as much fun can be had chasing bream. The tackle and technique has been described as very similar to that of "Bone-fishing".
We recommend 8-10wt fly rods with fast sinking line. 15-20lb tippets with 20-30lb short (4-6 inches) wire leaders. Tapered leaders are preferred, but not necessary.
The most commonly used flies are the streamer type with epoxy or weighted heads. Favourite colours are: silver, silver and red, black and silver, orange, white, chartreuse, yellow and blue. Length of flies range from 2-5 inches on either a 2/0 or 3/0 hook.
Two piece bait/spinning rods and four piece fly rods are much easier to travel with and you can quite often travel with them as "carry on" luggage. It is also recommended that you bring sufficient back-up tackle.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT
Fishing: The hotter months of the year from September to December are definitely the best time to catch tiger fish. This is also the breeding season, when the fish are much more active, feeding more regularly and far more aggressively. The water level is typically lower and the visibility at its very best.
Game and Birds:
Early Season - April to May
This period after the rains is stunning as the skies are clear providing for excellent photography. The migratory birds are still in plumage and preparing to move on whilst the dense vegetation forces the lions and other mammals to use the game-viewing roads.
Mid Season - June to August
As the vegetation starts to dry and the waterholes recede, elephant and buffalo start to gather in larger herds. Warm clothing is a definite must for safari activities in the morning and evening. African Wild Dog den in this period for mating, so sightings at this time are extremely rare.
Late Season - September to November
As the weather hots up, game viewing and fishing becomes even more rewarding. Most of the waterholes are now dry forcing game to congregate at the river to drink. Birding also improves with the arrival of summer migrants and the nesting carmine bee eaters creating a beautiful spectacle. At the break of the first rains (generally in early November) the impala give birth. Around the same time, the warthogs and many other species also produce their young.
Approximate temperatures (guide only):
Normal activities offered in the Lower Zambezi
Other places to visit in the area include:
The normal daily program at most camps is approximately as follows
Some lodges offer special meals in the bush, such as bush brunches, all day drives or picnic lunches, depending on the length of stay of the client.
Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) www.conservationlowerzambezi.com.zm) an enthusiastic and proactive volunteer organization that assists the Zambian Wildlife Authority in protecting the area from poaching, deforestation and encroachment by providing funding for and facilitating conservation activities in the fie3ld. The organization provides equipment, transport, rations, fuel, radio communications, mapping and navigation equipment, morale, recognition and incentives to ZAWA wildlife rangers. The organization also supports research, undertakes surveys, examines and licenses safari guides in the Lower Zambezi and immobilizes and treats injured wildlife.
Commencing in 2003, CLZ embarked on an Environmental Education Program that provides surrounding village communities with information and encouragement on sustainable options to improve upon and minimize their natural resource usage. School children from the same communitie4is are periodically brought into the protected areas to learn first hand about nature and the benefits of natural resource protection.
HEALTH AND INSURANCE
Insurance: We advise you to have comprehensive travel insurance including: medical evacuation; hospitalisation & repatriation; baggage loss and loss of funds through cancellation or curtailment of package booked.
Malaria: Zambia is a high risk malaria area. All visitors must take appropriate prophylactics to prevent them from contracting the disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Consult your medical practitioner. It is important to adhere strictly to the dosages. We further advise you to use mosquito repellent, wear long clothing in the evenings and sleep under a mosquito net at night to prevent being bitten. If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during, or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor’s advice immediately.
Inoculations: A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are travelling from an infected area. Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised. Again, consult your medical practitioner.
A small personal medical kit will give you extra comfort whilst travelling. However please be aware that any medication must be accompanied with a doctor’s prescription. The Zambian government strictly enforce the law when it comes to drugs of any sort. If in doubt, get an official prescription and make sure your medication is in a sealed container.
COMMUNICATION: There is no cell phone coverage in the more remote areas of Zambia. Where there is cellphone coverage at lodges, management request that guests refrain from using their cellphones within public areas of the lodge and on game viewing activities.
PAYMENT FOR SERVICES IN ZAMBIA
The currency in Zambia is the Kwacha. The denominations are K50,000, K20,000, K10,000, K5000, K1000, K500, K100, K50, K20. Since the devaluation of the Kwacha ngwee coins are no longer in circulation (100 ngwee = 1 Kwacha).
Many of the lodges accept US Dollar, Pound Sterling or Euro bills for payment instead of Kwacha but it is advisable to always have enough Zambian currency just in case.
Credit Cards: Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted at lodges but should not be relied on for payment. A commission varying from between 5 – 7% is generally charged on both credit cards and travellers cheques in order to cover the bank charge commission. Visa is the most widely accepted card with some institutions accepting MasterCard. American Express and Diners is not accepted in Zambia.
Changing Money: Zambia is a free market economy and foreign exchange can be readily converted. It is best to come into the country with United States dollars (USD) cash (or travellers cheques), which can be exchanged at any of the banks or Bureau de Change and some lodges.
USD are easier to change than Pounds sterling and Euro. It is essential that your USD notes are fairly recently printed with "large heads". Old notes with "smaller heads" (except One Dollar Bills) are not accepted ANYWHERE in Zambia. Some banks will also charge a different rate for small denominations. We recommend that you have some smaller denominations of USD bills for change and tipping.
There are banks in the main cities across the country. Opening hours are 08:30 to about 14:30 or 15:30 hrs Monday to Friday. Bureau de Changes stay open on Saturdays and week day afternoons.
ATM: The main cities have ATM machines which will enable you to withdraw cash in the local Kwacha currency. Visa is the most widely accepted card at these machines.
Wildlife can, and does, roam freely near national parks. When staying at a lodge please take the utmost care when walking about. If you come across game, do not approach the animal. Elephants in particular can move fast and can be dangerous – they are scared of humans and can react suddenly without warning. Nile crocodiles occur in Zambia and we advise you not to swim in any waterways.
WHAT TO BRING
Please note that luggage is restricted to 12kg packed in soft bags for internal flights. Both men and women dress smart casual in the evenings at lodges. Whilst there are no regulations for dress code, it is customary in Zambia for women to cover their legs for the sake of modesty.
For safari activities we recommend comfortable, lightweight clothing in khaki, brown, green and beige bush-toned colours. Pale or bright colours are not advisable for walking safaris as the animals can easily see these shades. Tsetse flies, a biting fly, are also attracted to dark colours, especially navy blue.
Getting there by Air
Royal airstrip – all weather. 1400m
Distance from Royal to camps:
Jeki airstrip – seasonal. Location within the park.
Distance from Jeki to camps:
Masstock Airstrip opposite Gwabi Lodge – Charter flights only.
Restrictions - luggage is restricted to 12kg on charter flights in soft suitcases.
Getting there by Road - Directions
Places to stop off
In 2007: The ferry across the kafue river to the lower zambezi is now motorized. It runs strictly from 0600 - 1800 every day. Estimate about K40 000 per locally registered vehicle, and US$20.00 per foreign registered vehicle. Heavy vehicles pay per tonnage.
Transfers – Boat transfers by lodges are possible from Gwabi but can take 2 + hours to the park.
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