From the tiniest frog to the heaviest elephant, the oldest tree to the noisiest hornbill, fascinating discoveries are waiting to be made around almost every bend in the wilderness. Family safari holidays in Zambia immerse you in this bold and beautiful natural world, where you are surrounded daily by the sights and sounds of its wild residents.
While sometimes overlooked by its neighbors, Zambia is undeniably one of Africa’s best safari destinations. One-third of the country is made up of game management areas and national parks – like Kafue and South Luangwa – that are dedicated to ensuring the survival of its diverse wildlife and environments. Plus, Zambia is considered one of the safest and friendliest places on the continent, with world-class hospitality and award-winning guides at family-friendly camps and lodges.
Here’s why South Luangwa and Kafue national parks in Zambia make it to the top of the family-friendly safari list!
Safari in a unique and environmentally-friendly way
A family safari holiday in Zambia gives you the opportunity to explore pristine wilderness by some of the very best guides in Africa. Highly trained, personable and knowledgeable guides in parks like Kafue and South Luangwa will share all they know about the local wildlife and landscape while safely leading you on game drives, walking safaris and boat cruises.
A solar-powered electric game drive vehicle is part of the Silent Safari experience that Green Safaris pioneered first at Ila Safari Lodge in Kafue. Because the e-Cruiser doesn’t run on a noisy diesel engine, you can experience all the sights and sounds of the bush in near silence, without disturbing the animals or environment. Similarly, the modified electric boat or e-Boat cruises on the tree-lined Kafue River, and its gentle movements allows it to get you closer to the storks fishing in the shallows, crocodiles basking in the sun, and buffalo grazing on lush grasses nearby. There are times when the terrain is too rough and a traditional 4×4 vehicle is used for better accessibility and navigation.
The walking safari is said to have been born in South Luangwa, and some of the region’s best guides lead safaris in this wild, diverse ecosystem. South Luangwa is one of the most scenic parks in Southern Africa, and exploring it on foot gives you and the kids time to really appreciate it, at nature’s pace. It should be noted that national parks do not allow children under 12 to join a walking safari. The recently opened Shawa Luangwa Camp in South Luangwa offers the first solar-powered electric game drives and boat cruises in the park, so there’s no disturbing engine roars to scare off the animals and birds.
Tick off your wildlife wish-list
Being in the remote wilderness on a family safari holiday is an excellent way to expose your kids to the inter-connectedness of nature, wildlife and humans. And Zambia has no shortage of exciting creatures – big and small – to encounter and learn about in the bush. It is home to Africa’s iconic Big 5 (buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino), many endangered predator and game animals, and rare and endemic species, and an incredible diversity of birds.
Elephant, buffalo and lion are common across multiple parks, although Kafue National Park has impressive lion prides that thrive within Zambia’s oldest and largest national park. The kids will love seeing Simba in real life! It also has Africa’s other two big cats – cheetah and leopard – as well as one of Africa’s largest populations of wild dog, a highly endangered predator species. The Kafue River is the lifeblood of the park’s wildlife, and elephants, buffalo and hippo spend much time drinking from and frolicking in its cool waters.
With one of the highest densities of leopard in Africa, it’s no surprise that South Luangwa National Park is fondly known as the ‘Valley of the Leopard’. For those who have these often-elusive felines at the top of their wildlife wish-list, this is the destination for your family safari holidays. The Luangwa River is home to plentiful hippo and its banks are visited by plains game like bushbuck, kudu and puku. And, as if the South Luangwa couldn’t fit in any more exciting wildlife species, it also has three endemic animals – Crawshay’s zebra, Thornicroft’s giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest.
Bed down in luxury family tents
When staying at small and beautifully positioned camps, a family safari holiday in Zambia has all the creature comforts and privacy of home. These account for the special needs of family travel and welcome you to stay in spacious and safe child-friendly tented suites. The main camp areas have a pool, deck and garden so that you can spend downtime together in between adventures in the bush.
Both the family tents at Ila Safari Lodge and those at Shawa Luangwa Camp open to panoramic river views, immersing you in the Zambian wilderness, while still having the modern furnishings needed for an enjoyable family holiday. At Ila, the tents comfortably accommodate a family of four in two bedrooms separated by a curtain, and has an en-suite bathroom with both bath and shower. At Shawa, the two tents are separated by an elevated wooden deck, and each has its own en-suite bathroom.
It’s during a safari that you can all experience the bush directly and encourage your kids to protect nature for future generations. Some safari activities, like game drives and walking safaris, have age limits, while others can be enjoyed together so you can bond over the shared learning and excitement of this new world.