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Located upstream from Victoria Falls, on the Zambezi River, is the Zambezi National Park. It measures 56,000 hectares in size and lies in Zimbabwe. The park was split off from Victoria Falls National Park. The mighty River Zambezi forms the northern border of the park while also creating a border between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Although smaller in size, Zambezi National Park is one of the best places to experience a wide variety of flora and fauna. Most of the park falls within the eco-region of Mopane and Zambezian woodlands while the southern portion covers the Zambezi Teak woodlands. There are various indigenous tree species found in the park while its terrain varies between riverine woodlands. The hidden gems of the park are its natural spring-line which regularly have a wide range of animals traversing through them. The scenic landscape of Zambezi National Park offers a real bush experience.
The park is home to a variety of large mammals including elephants, lions, buffalo, and leopards. In addition, one can also spot herds of eland, sable antelope, zebra, giraffe, and more. Other smaller game species can also be spotted in the park. The Zambezi River has over 75 different types of fish and is popular for tiger fish and bream. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park, making it a birding haven.
The Zambezi National Park is a great destination to take a day trip to Victoria Falls located adjacent to it. The park provides an authentic safari experience as there are various lodges overlooking the Zambezi River.
Nearest Airport: The nearest airport to Zambezi National Park is the Victoria Falls Airport (VFA)
How to reach: From Victoria Falls town by road or flight
Famous for: Wildlife species, bird species, Zambezi River, game drives, canoe trips, picnic spots
Months Open: All year
Best time to visit: June to October
WHAT TO SEE
African wild animals
Various bird species
In 1979, Zambezi National Park was split off from Victoria Falls National Park. The park is bisected by a road, dividing it into a Chamabonda Vlei side and a riverine site. The Zambezi River Game Drive has an extensive network of roads and scenery that can be accessed through the park’s main gate.
Although being one of the smaller parks in Zimbabwe, Zambezi National Park is known for its rich game action. The Big Four African animals: elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard are typically seen in the park. The rhinos were transferred to another area due to the risk of poaching. There are massive herds of sable antelopes, common zebra, common eland, southern giraffe, waterbuck, impala, and greater kudu. The Zambezi River has a huge concentration of hippos and crocodiles basking in its waters.
The Zambezi River is also the lifeline of various animals. Gazelles, wildebeests, kudus, and many more species frequent the river banks. It is also a permanent hunting ground for lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, and crocodiles. The river margins have a lush forest fringe, offering shelter to bushbuck and duiker. Various groups of baboons and monkeys are also observed swinging from the park’s trees.
The best time to view wildlife in Zambezi National Park is from June to October, during the middle and end of the dry season. The Zambezi River becomes the prime place for all the animals to congregate as the bush thins out, making it easier to spot them.
Housing more than 400 vibrant species of birds, Zambezi National Park is of much interest to avid birders. The riverine habitats and woodlands of the park oversee various birds, both resident and migratory. The Zambezi River offers Perch for an array of herons, kingfishers, and fish eagles. Other birds seen in the park are African skimmer, Pel’s fishing owl, lanner falcon, collared palm thrush, African finfoot, Kori bustard, long-toed lawing, and rock pratincole.
While birding is good all year round, the best months to see the avifauna of the park is from November to April. During this period, migratory birds arrive from Europe and North Africa to the park. It is also a great time to see resident birds in their vivid breeding plumage.
Activities in Zambezi National Park
Canoeing – Zambezi River canoeing is the most unique experiences enjoyed in the national park. Along with offering beautiful vistas of the river, this activity showcases the phenomenal bird and animal life often encountered near the river bank. Visitors can even have picnics or try out fishing near the picnic sites set along the Zambezi River.
Game drives – The wildlife-rich Zambezi National Park provides the best game drives. Visitors have the opportunity to see various animal species such as lions, elephants, buffalo, and leopards as well as a wide range of antelopes, zebras, waterbucks, and more.
Walking safaris – Guided walking safaris are one of the best ways to learn about a variety of aspects of the park. Visitors can get closer to various animals and even track their footprints. Moreover, this type of safari also helps observe wildlife in its natural habitat without disturbing them.
Birding – Keen birdwatchers can have sightings of more than 400 different species of birds residing in the park. Either by jeep, foot, or canoe, bird safaris allow visitors to navigate through habitats such as Mopane and Teak woodlands, riverine, and grasslands for avifauna.
Victoria Falls – One of the largest waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls, sits close to the Zambezi National Park. Visitors can take a day trip to Victoria Falls and appreciate the spectacular waterfalls of this major tourist attraction.
Where to stay in Zambezi National Park
There is a wide range of accommodation available for all types of travelers in the park. The top choices are:
Pioneers Camp– Set in the Upper Zambezi National Park, Pioneers Camp is a comfortable accommodation. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated, offering clear views of the water sources that attract animals near the camp.
Victoria Falls River Lodge – Situated on the banks of River Zambezi, Victoria Falls River Lodge is a luxurious lodge. It has spacious and elegant tented suites and secluded island treehouse suites. The lodge also offers a unique African safari experience combined with personalized services.
Victoria Falls Safari Lodge – This lodge is perched on a sprawling plateau, near the borders of the Zambezi National Park. The lodge offers en-suite rooms and suites that open up to gorgeous views of the neighboring wilderness.
Palm River Hotel – The charming Palm River Hotel is set in an idyllic location, close to the Zambezi River. This riverside retreat has well-appointed suites that overlook the river and the region’s wildlife.
Livingstone Lodge – This is a 21-bedroom lodge set close to Victoria Falls and the Zambezi National Park. Along with providing comfortable facilities, Livingstone Lodge also has a spa, a bar, and a dining area.