Landlocked in south-central Africa, Zambia is off the beaten safari track, lesser known than its neighbors Tanzania and Botswana—a cashew-shaped country larger than Texas filled with vivid cultures and untamed wilderness. Along the southern border, the Zambezi River splits Zambia from Zimbabwe, crashing spectacularly into a deep ravine at Victoria Falls, perhaps the country’s most celebrated site. South Luangwa National Park is the gem of Zambia’s north, a remote wildlife sanctuary of floodplains, grasslands, and forests that covers nearly 3,500 square miles (9,050 square kilometers).
More than 60 species of mammal inhabit South Luangwa National Park, including those you’d expect—elephants, lions, leopards, and buffaloes, to name a few—as well as rare endemic species such as Thornicroft’s giraffes and Crawshay’s zebras. The park is home to one of the highest populations in the world of African wild dogs, and its major river draws crocodiles, hippos, and plenty of waterfowl. Bird species number more than 400, from lilac-breasted rollers and carmine bee-eaters to bateleur eagles and crowned cranes.
The valley of the Luangwa River is characterized by woodlands and savanna dotted with oxbow lagoons, baobabs, and hardwood forests where ebony and mahogany trees reign. The area undergoes a dramatic change as the rains begin, transforming from a tableau of gold and brown to a rich landscape of lush greens.
Zambia’s population of just under 15 million is known for embracing their varied backgrounds and traditions, with more than 70 different indigenous cultures, Indian and Chinese communities, and European and southern African expatriates.
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