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Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

San Francisco...
9 posts
Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

We're planning to visit in late Sept/early Oct. Have heard amazing things about both but not finding nearly as much "cred" for Zimbabwe (Mana Pools, Hwange) as for Zambia (South Lwangwa, Lowe Zam).

Have also heard that tsetse flies are far more prevalent in ZAM v ZIM.

Can someone tell me, all things considered (aside from the usual political/social issues/considerations) which is the better choice between Zambia and Zimbabwe?

As much detail as possible and all opinions welcomed.

Sosua, Dominican...
Destination Expert
for Dominican Republic
Level Contributor
9,532 posts
1 review
1. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

You can read lots of good reviews about South Lwangwa, some raving reviews and also for Hwange in Zim. Take pills no matter which you go to.

How about going to Hwange then Vic Falls then South Lwangwa. I'm thinking of same or in reverse.

Level Contributor
944 posts
1 review
2. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

Two of the best wildlife parks you could possibly visit are Mana Pools and South Luangwa NP. Been to each one many times. In Sept and Oct, the latter part of the dry season, animals are drawn to water sources. At South Luangwa and Mana Pools the wildlife will be concentrate mostly to the Luangwa and Zambezi Rivers, so that wildlife will be easy to view and enjoy. The wildlife is not under the stress of poaching and hunting like you will notice in Hwange. IMO, If you would like to see predators, you stand a better chance in Mana Pools and SLNP too.

Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
5,909 posts
3. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

To be fair, you probably haven't heard as much about Zim because less people go there- not that loads of people go to Zambia either (compared to Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana).

I have spent a lot of time in South Luangwa and it's my favourite park in Africa. I've only spent a few days in Mana Pools, and I did a canoe safari through it but I loved it and it's very high on my list for a revisit. I haven't been to Hwange since 1994.

It's quite easy to combine MP and SLNP- many tour operators offer "add on" trips to MP with road/boat transfers from Lusaka. I know Expert Africa (who I've travelled with a few times) do. I think those 2 parks would make a fantasic combination.

In both parks, walking is quite a central activity and October is the hottest month, so I'd recommend you plan your trip as early as you can- so in Sept rather than Oct if possible.

Destination Expert
for Mana Pools National Park, Marco Island
Level Contributor
1,068 posts
58 reviews
4. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

I love Mana and an extremely fortunate to be able to visit on an annual basis. I haven't visited South Luangwa (it is near the top of my list of places to go) but have only ever heard good things about the park and the wildlife viewing opportunities it offers.

One unique thing about Mana -and depending on the individual, this can be taken as a positive or a negative- is that you are able to walk (unguided if you choose) in the Park. Having watched animals on foot has spoilt me - I now feel very 'detached' when viewing from a vehicle.

I seriously don't think you would be disappointed visiting either of these Parks - they are both regarded as being amongst the best in Africa.

Sheffield, United...
Level Contributor
3,347 posts
5. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

One advantage with S Luangwa is you can combine a safari with a few days R and R to recover after some hectic days on safari (can be quite wearying if you are a "little older"), by combining a trip to Lake Malawi. There are several safari companies in Malawi that provide a combined lake and S Luangwa. These start in Lilongwe, Malawi, road transfer to S Luangwa, then road or air charter to the lake. Depending on budget,

Robin Pope Safaris, (Pumulani on the lake) Land and lake safaris, www.responsiblesafaricompany.com/index2.php



West Australia
Level Contributor
563 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

<Sigh>... I think a late September combination of Mana Pools - South Luangwa - Lake Malawi would be a perfect Safari ...

Wishful thinking though coz my bank balance would not agree!

San Francisco
Level Contributor
43 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

Hi, I returned yesterday from several weeks in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Just posted a few camp / lodge reviews (for Lion Camp in South Luangwa, The Hide in Hwange, and Sausage Tree Camp in Lower Zambezi NP) but they may take a day or two to be approved. Check back if you're interested in specifics.

Victoria Falls is good from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides. If you want to do a microlight flight, only Zambia offers that option. I rode a horse on the Zim side, which was lovely. If you're looking for a less expensive option, Ilala Lodge was quite nice and walkable to the Falls. If you're looking for luxury, The Royal Livingstone Hotel on the Zambian side is gorgeous. If you don't stay there, at least go for a drink on the deck overlooking the Zambezi.

Hwange in Zimbabwe has tons of elephants and not a huge range of other animals. Very low game density. I was disappointed and would have skipped this park if I'd known. The guide said that the animal density was average and that it doesn't get much higher, but that many more elephants congregate as it gets drier in Hwange.

South Luangwa in Zambia was AMAZING!! I want to go back and try it during the wet season to see birds and during the really dry season, ie. the time that you will be there. (perhaps in sept 2013?). I stayed at Lion Camp, which Stokeygirl & another safari afficionado had recommended. It really exceeded my expectations. There was very high animal density and diversity.

I finished at Lower Zambezi National Park. Stayed at Sausage Tree Camp which had good water activities on offer. They are opening a new, lower priced option called Potato Bush Camp. It should be open in September. The service at Sausage Tree was very personalized but I felt the price to be a bit too high. Fishing and canoeing on the Zambezi, surrounded by birds, hippos and an occasional crocodile, was really a treat.

If I could have figured out how to get to Mana Pools in an economical way, I would have loved to do so. Maybe next time! Some of the guests at the safari camps also seemed to enjoy boating activities on Lake Kariba. I have also heard good things about Busanga Plains in Kafue, where there are cheetah, but have not visited there yet.

There weren't a lot of bugs in any of the parks which I visited, but I am taking malarone just in case. Good luck!

8. Re: Best Wildlife Experience - Zimbabwe v Zambia?

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