Elephants for Tea
Sarah visits the Lower Zambezi National Park and is won over by this beautiful corner of Zambia.
Around twenty years ago, before the turmoil in Zimbabwe, the Lower Zambezi National Park was seen as the poor cousin to Zimbabwe’s successful and neighbouring Mana Pools National Park on the opposite, southern bank, of the Zambezi River. Since then huge improvements in conservation and a stable economy have allowed it to flourish into one of Zambia’s premier game destinations.
I was delighted to see for myself on a recent visit what the country’s newest national park has to offer. Even approaching from the air was an experience: the miles of dry, wooded scrubland visible since leaving Lusaka suddenly gave way to an impressive escarpment, a hidden world of lush river channels and the flowing waters of the vast Zambezi, dotted with hundreds of wallowing hippo and grazing elephant.
Few Lower Zambezi properties are fenced, which means that animals can wander freely. This makes for some great game viewing as well as the odd unexpected guest. On one occasion I was delayed for a game drive by a herd of elephants which had decided to pop in and almost join us for afternoon tea. You really do feel like a visitor in their world and very fortunate to be there. The park is well populated by predators – we found three adolescent male lions on one night drive who were keen to let everyone and everything know they were there and set about an almighty roaring contest. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up even now when I think about it.
Aside from stunning scenery, plentiful wildlife and superb camps, the Lower Zambezi offers safari activities other than just game drives. Visitors can go on guided walks with expert guides, try fishing for tiger fish or explore the river channels by canoe. There really is something for everyone. I was sad to leave this very beautiful corner of the country and would highly recommend it to anyone.