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Lower Zambezi National Park

Located on the north bank of the Zambezi River in southeastern Zambia, the Lower Zambezi National Park can be found on the opposite bank from Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. Covering an expanse of 4,092 square km, the Lower Zambezi National Park straddles two predominant ecoregions – Zambezian and Mopane woodlands in the south and southern Miombo woodlands in the north. The area surrounding the Zambezi rivers is floodplain ecoregion.

These unique ecoregions have created an ideal habitat for the park’s diverse wildlife and birds, which can be explored on guided walking safaris, game drives, and river safaris. Furthermore, visitors can also take the opportunity to learn the local culture by visiting the nearby Goba Villages.

The ‌‌‌History‌ ‌of‌ Lower Zambezi National Park

Long ago, before the land was set aside for preservation, the Nsenga Bantu people lived in the Lower Zambezi region.

  • 1940-1945: The Nsegna Bantu people were struck by a sleeping sickness outbreak that caused them to move out of the region. They did, however, come back once the severity of the sickness lessened.
  • 1946: The continuous sleeping sickness outbreak led to the evacuation of a large number of Nsegna Bantu people. They moved west to the Chakwenga region. Once the sleeping sickness outbreak ran its course, the Nsegna Bantu people moved back to the lower Zambezi region.
  • 1951: An area smaller than the current park area was set aside as a controlled hunting area.
  • 1952: In 1952, there was a second sleeping sickness outbreak, which caused another dispersal. This time, around 1000 Bantu people moved out of the region. Almost half of them refused to return and chose to join other tribes. A few merged with Goba.
  • 1969: Zambia Safaris Company was given the concession to hunt in the area.
  • 1971: The protected area became known as the Zambezi Game Management Area number 16.
  • 1973: Zambezi Game Management Area number 16 was granted International Park status.
  • 1983: Lower Zambezi National Park was established in 1983.
  • 1989-1990: The Zambezi River Safaris, G & G Safaris, and Wildlife Conservation International managed and operated within the park. These organisations worked together to transform the area between Chongwe and Mwambashi rivers into an appealing tourist attraction.

 

Wildlife in Lower Zambezi National Park

The Lower Zambezi National Park is known for its large population of elephants and buffaloes, which can be spotted as they gather around the water holes during the dry season. Other game found in the park include hippos, zebras, and wildebeest as well as an ample population of impalas and roan antelopes.

While the predators aren’t as common as the other animals, visitors may occasionally see lions, leopards, and hyenas in the park. Although the park has wild dogs, they are rarely seen. The Zambezi River offer a great spot for viewing hippos and Nile crocodiles, both of which are found abundantly in the park.

Lower Zambezi National Park has a rich birdlife with over 350 bird species including rare bird species such as collared pratincole, narina trogon, palm-nut vulture, pennant-winged nightjar, and Verreaux’s eagle.

Lower Zambezi National Park Premier Attractions

  • Lower Zambezi boat/canoe safaris: Lower Zambezi National Park’s boat or canoe safaris are its most enjoyable and relaxing adventures. Visitors can explore the channels of the Zambezi Riverand enjoy watching wildlife on the river banks or drinking at the water’s edge. Canoe trips are best for spotting hippos and crocodiles, as you glide quietly down the river. Other activities include  catch and release fishing and of course game viewing drives.
  • Chongwe Falls: Located in Lower Zambezi, Chongwe Falls is a lovely spot to visit after spending hours on a rewarding canoe trip. It is a great picnic spot, offeringstunning views.

When to visit Lower Zambezi National Park

July to October (dry season) is considered the best time to visit Lower Zambezi National Park. These are the driest months in the region, when the vegetation is sparse and the water sources for wildlife more scarce, causing the wildlife to leave their secluded spots and journey towards the Zambezi River, which acts as a perennial water source. It ensures visitors can spot the wildlife gathering around the rivers from the safety of their game vehicles or boats.

Although the wet season (November to April) has its own attractions, the roads are often impassable and many lodges and camps close during the wet season. The shoulder season months of May and June are very beautiful with lush vegetation after the rains, an excellent time for bird watching and to see newborn animals.

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