19 Apr Getting off the Beaten Track in Zambia on your Gap Year Escape
For many people going on safari in Africa is already seen as getting of the beaten track. Whether you choose an adventure on a shoestring in Zambia or a more frivolous luxury safari in Botswana, ultimately your experience of Africa, it’s wildlife and ways will be essentially the same. To really avoid the throngs of tourists head for the depths of Zambia. Zambia has a couple of nice hidden treasures that are well worth discovering on a gap year out.
Perhaps the best option for young gap year travellers is to head for the fantastic South Luangwa National Park, and in particular the Nsefu Sector. This “sector” is actually part of the South Luangwa National Park, yet it is located on the Eastern side of the Luangwa River, which makes it rather special as the majority of the park is situated on the Western side of the River. The Nsefu Sector is easily reachable from the town Mfuwe by road, which takes you through some very traditional Zambian villages before reaching the park entry gates.
What makes this part of the Park special is the feel of being in a completely different park, even though you are never far from the River. One of the main attractions of this park is the large salt pan, which features a lovely small, green river right in the middle of it. This is created by a natural hot spring, which was supposed to have been found by accident, whilst drilling for water. Even though the water is very salty, it attracts a huge number of birds, antelopes and other wildlife due to the fact that it provides a source of water all year round.
Other than this, the park offers very good game viewing and a very remote feel as there are only a handful of lodges/camps here. You will certainly get a “off the beaten track” feel around here.
If you fancy travelling further afield in Zambia then why not try the huge North Luangwa National Park? Most people will take a small light aircraft to this remote wilderness, but it is also possible to take the cheaper option and drive there.
The North Luangwa has yet again a different flora and feels a lot drier than its southern sister. Huge herds of Buffalo of up to a 1,000 strong; together with good predator sightings and plenty of other wildlife is what can be expected. However, due to its strict conservation rules (North Luangwa is currently reintroducing Black Rhinos) the majority of game viewing is done on a walking safari. The expert guides will take you on walks through the bush, explaining all the little details that one might miss from a vehicle. This is a truly amazing experience and should not be missed when travelling to Zambia. Of course, walking safaris are possible at the other parks in Zambia as well, but you do not get the same sense of a true remote wilderness elsewhere.
From the North Luangwa it is then possible to either return to Mfuwe or continue your gap year safari further north to the Bangweulu Swamps or the Kasanka National Park.