From the majestic Victoria Falls to the wild plains of South Luangwa, Zambia is a magical tapestry woven with untouched wilderness, remarkable wildlife, and luxurious retreats. Let's explore the top luxury safari lodges in Zambia that redefine African vacations with unparalleled luxury and immersive wildlife experiences.
Best Zambia Safari Lodges (Luxury Lodges)
1. Time & Tide Chongwe House. (Lower Zambezi)
Nestled near the meeting point of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers, Chongwe House is an exquisite luxury safari lodge in Zambia. Promising awe-inspiring vistas and exhilarating adventures like game drives, canoeing, and fishing, this lodge marries luxury with the untamed beauty of Africa.
Time + Tide Chongwe House is situated on a quiet stretch of the Chongwe River, with a stunning mountainous backdrop. The house itself is designed to blend perfectly with the natural landscape, using river pebble accents and furniture made from a fallen winter-torn tree.
Inside, you'll find a two-storey private house with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It's the ideal size for a group of four to eight people. The house even has private open-air bathtubs and waterfall showers, as well as a large pool and spacious indoor and outdoor lounges. We can spend quality time together in the dining areas, both inside and outside.
One of the most incredible things about this place is the sounds you'll hear. Listen carefully and you might catch the calls of fish eagles or the gentle grunts of a family of warthogs munching on grass outside. And get this, you can watch elephants peacefully crossing the river right in front of the house. It's truly a remarkable sight.
2. Time & Tide Chinzombo (South Luangwa)
Owned by the renowned Norman Carr Safaris, Chinzombo is the epitome of exclusivity and elegance in the heart of the Luangwa Valley. Boasting six private villas, this Zambian luxury safari lodge offers both thrilling game drives and serene walking safaris.
There are six spacious tents tucked beneath ancient msikizi trees, each with its own private pool and soaking tub. And let me tell you, the views over the river and its abundant wildlife are absolutely breathtaking.
The design of these tents is award-winning, and it's easy to see why. They combine canvas, timber, and reed, with accents of leather and raw linen. Stepping out onto the shaded verandah, you can spend the afternoon leisurely or treat yourself to an in-room spa treatment.
Down the path, there's a main lodge that's simply inviting. You can lounge on the riverfront sun deck and enjoy a book from the open-air library. And the best part? The dinner is prepared with produce grown right here. Grab a drink from the bar and browse through the old books and photos or gather around the fire pit suspended high atop the river bank.
I have to mention that this is one of the most game-rich areas in South Luangwa National Park. With our experienced guides, you can take a boat across the river for a thrilling game drive, safari walk, or even a boat cruise (seasonal). You might just catch a glimpse of lions, leopards, and other magnificent predators in action.
3. Chiawa Camp (Lower Zambezi)
As one of the oldest luxury safari camps in Zambia, Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi National Park has an established reputation for top-tier accommodations and a diverse range of activities. Chiawa is the perfect sanctuary for wildlife lovers and adventure seekers alike.
As the pioneer of the Lower Zambezi National Park, Chiawa Luxury Camp holds a special place in my heart. It's a family-owned and operated, multi-award-winning luxury safari camp that settled along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. When you stay at Chiawa, you'll experience a gentle and unhurried adventure in the company of Africa’s finest guides.
From thrilling game drives to heart-stopping game walks, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. And let's not forget about the amazing wildlife! Picture yourself in one of our luxury tents, enjoying breathtaking views of the Zambezi River and the incredible resident wildlife. You might catch a glimpse of elephants, lions, leopards, hippos, and so much more. This is Zambia's premier luxury safari camp, and it's waiting for you.
4. Time and Tide King Lewanika (Liuwa Plain)
King Lewanika Lodge, a luxury offering in Liuwa Plain National Park, presents an opportunity to explore the vast plains of Zambia teeming with rich wildlife. The remote location and exclusive access make it one of the finest luxury safari lodges in Zambia.
Time + Tide King Lewanika is the ultimate destination for me. It's the only permanent camp in Liuwa Plain National Park, boasting six open-front luxury safari tents. I'll get to experience pure and simple luxury in these tents, including a two-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury family tent. What's more, these tents are built using local techniques and sustainable materials, running on solar power. The vintage leather, cotton, and canvas furnishings take me back to the old-world safari days.
Every tent is designed to immerse me in the breathtaking landscape, with indoor and outdoor showers, a cosy lounge, and a verandah offering stunning views over the plains. As I take a deep breath and gaze out over the curving horizon from the tranquil main lounge, I can't help but feel a sense of serenity. At night, I'll gather around the campfire beneath a sky brimming with endless stars, while listening to the captivating legend of Lady Liuwa, the matriarch of the lion pride.
Being a photographer's dream, Time + Tide King Lewanika offers different backdrops for capturing incredible wildlife throughout the seasons. I'll have the opportunity to join their experienced guides on intimate safari excursions, whether it's on foot, in a vehicle, or by canoe during the right season. I can't wait to witness Africa's most spectacular wildlife, including the thriving cheetah population, up close and personal.
5. Mfuwe Lodge (South Luangwa National Park)
Mfuwe Lodge, situated in the South Luangwa National Park, stands out for its high concentration of wildlife, particularly during the dry season. It's not uncommon to find elephants casually strolling through the lodge's reception – a true testament to the immersive wildlife experience it offers.
Mfuwe Lodge is famously known as "the lodge that elephants walk through." This remarkable place is nestled between two lagoons and blessed with the shade of magnificent ebony and mahogany trees. Mfuwe Lodge, which has received numerous awards, offers the perfect gateway to experience life in Luangwa.
The lodge features 18 rooms in total, including two suites, three family rooms, and 13 standard rooms. The accommodations are beautifully designed thatched chalets.
One of the highlights of this region is the abundance of wildlife. Giraffes, hippos, buffalos, antelopes, and crocodiles are just a few of the frequent visitors to Mfuwe Lodge's lagoon.
While walking safaris can be arranged upon request, the majority of our outings involve thrilling game drives. One unique experience that occurs in November is the local elephants casually strolling right through the lobby, attracted by the alluring wild mango tree nearby. It's truly a sight to behold!
Mfuwe Lodge offers an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of the African wilderness.
6. Chindeni Bushcamp (South Luangwa National Park)
Nestled in the South Luangwa National Park, Chindeni Bushcamp offers luxury in the lap of nature. Overlooking a tranquil lagoon and the majestic Chindeni Hills, it’s an ideal place to experience the tranquillity of Zambia's wilderness.
I absolutely love staying at Chindeni, a breathtaking tented camp nestled on the edge of an oxbow lagoon with the magnificent N'Chindeni Hills serving as a stunning backdrop. With just four spacious tents, raised on decks and featuring wooden floors, four-poster beds, and private verandas with incredible views of the lagoon, Chindeni offers both style and comfort.
The main area of the camp is a true gem, boasting multiple levels of decking surrounded by beautiful ebony trees. From here, you can enjoy the same awe-inspiring view of the lagoon and its wildlife. It's the perfect spot to relax and soak in the natural beauty.
Chindeni offers an array of exciting experiences for adventurous explorers and those seeking a tranquil wildlife encounter. Embark on exhilarating walking safaris, thrilling game drives, fascinating night drives, and picturesque sundowner trips in the surrounding area. Or simply unwind on a deckchair at camp and marvel at the abundance of game that gathers around the lagoon.
Chindeni truly captures the essence of a remarkable safari experience, and we highly recommend it.
7. Shumba Camp (Busanga Plains in Zambia.)
Shumba Camp, located in the heart of the Busanga Plains within Kafue National Park, delivers exclusive wildlife viewing experiences amidst luxurious accommodations. It's an incredible luxury safari retreat offering unique experiences in Zambia's largest and oldest national park.
When I think about a perfect safari experience, I immediately picture the remote Zambian wilderness. It's a place where elegance meets adventure, and where Shumba, a seasonal camp, stands as one of the most exclusive safari destinations in all of Africa.
From the contemporary deck of Shumba, I find myself fully immersed in the breathtaking diversity of wildlife. This area is renowned for its impressive variety of antelope species, which gracefully take flight whenever predators are near. The Busanga Plains, where Shumba is located, is home to magnificent predators like leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, and the awe-inspiring "flying lions" that often leap over the drying channels.
And let's not forget about the accommodation. Shumba is a remote and exclusive haven that occupies its own little island in the heart of the Busanga Plains. Surrounded by miles of floodplains and interconnected channels, it offers unrivalled views from every angle. With just six luxurious suites, each built on raised wooden platforms, I can truly appreciate the wilderness in comfort and style. After a day filled with wildlife encounters, I can indulge in sumptuous dining under the sparkling stars.
For an unforgettable safari experience in Zambia, Shumba is the place to be. I can't wait to explore this captivating corner of Africa!
8. Royal Chundu Island (Victoria Falls)
On a private island in the Zambezi River, the Royal Chundu Island Lodge serves up luxury with a side of awe-inspiring river views. Just a stone's throw from Victoria Falls, it makes for a perfect base to explore this natural wonder of the world.
Royal Chundu, is an authentic Zambian resort that not only uplifts the traveller but also the local community. Recently, it was recognized as the 4th Best Resort in Africa and the 9th Best Resort in the World by Condé Nast Traveler's 2018 Readers' Choice Awards. Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe, this tranquil hideaway offers a perfect blend of romance, a family-friendly atmosphere, and unique adventures.
As I arrived at Royal Chundu, I was immediately captivated by the breathtaking views of the Zambezi River and the surrounding nature. The resort consists of two lodges, River Lodge and Island Lodge, both offering stunning views of the river. The River Lodge features 10 exclusive suites nestled among the trees, providing an intimate and peaceful retreat. On the other hand, the Island Lodge, situated on the private Katombora island in the middle of the river, offers four spacious villas, creating an atmosphere of charm and exclusivity.
One of the highlights of my stay was the opportunity to witness the majestic Victoria Falls, located just 30km downstream from the resort. The roaring sound, thundering water, and smoking mist truly left me in awe.
Not only is Royal Chundu a remarkable destination, but it is also Zambia's first and only Relais & Châteaux property. Beyond providing an exceptional guest experience, the resort is dedicated to community empowerment. It is truly inspiring to see how they contribute to the well-being and development of the local community.
In conclusion, my time at Royal Chundu was nothing short of extraordinary. From the serene surroundings to the impeccable service, this resort offers a unique and unforgettable experience. I highly recommend visiting Royal Chundu to indulge in the wonders of Zambia and create memories that will last a lifetime.
9. Thorntree River Lodge (Zambezi River in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park)
Located in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Thorntree River Lodge provides a tranquil escape along the Zambezi River. With Victoria Falls within arm's reach, this lodge stands out amongst Zambia's luxury safari lodges for its proximity to one of the world's most famous waterfalls.
Luxury lodges in Zambia offer more than just lavish accommodations; they offer gateways into Africa's heart, where the wilderness speaks the language of luxury and adventure intertwines with relaxation. Your exploration of the Zambian wilderness starts at these luxury safari lodges.
Thorntree River Lodge is a splendid place that combines a serene riverside location with a focus on being environmentally conscious. I must say, the lodge draws inspiration from a delightful blend of local African culture and modern influences, creating an experience that truly embodies African Bush Camps' mindful ethos.
At Thorntree River Lodge, you'll have the perfect base to embark on an array of awe-inspiring activities in Livingstone Zambia. Just imagine taking in breathtaking river panoramas from the unique vantage points around the lodge. The shared areas, designed with relaxation in mind, seamlessly flow together. You'll find the lounge blending into the dining area, while the library provides the convenience of WIFI connectivity. But the real highlight is the communal deck, situated right on the mesmerizing riverside, featuring a sunken boma area and an infinity pool. Oh, and let's not forget the gym and spa, which promote a sense of holistic well-being during your stay.
African Bush Camps offer an exciting range of daily excursions. You'll have the chance to explore both the Zambian side (and the Zimbabwean side during the dry season) of The Victoria Falls, go on private river cruises, partake in cultural visits, enjoy fishing expeditions, go canoeing, track rhinos, and experience thrilling game drives. And guess what? All of these activities are included as part of your stay. If that's not enough, we can even help you organize additional adventures such as guided rainforest walks, bungee jumping, and exhilarating helicopter flips over 'The Smoke that Thunders'.
Trust me, Thorntree River Lodge is an extraordinary place where you'll feel truly immersed in the beauty and wonder of Livingstone Zambia.
10. Lozebezi Safari Lodge (African Bush Camps- Lower Zambezi National Park)
Set in the breathtaking and untamed wilderness of the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, Lolebezi is the newest addition to the African Bush Camps family. Let me tell you, it is truly one of the most spectacular places We've ever seen.
Just imagine waking up in your room with the majestic Zambezi River flowing right in front of you. It's an absolutely exceptional experience. The lodge itself is situated on five hectares of protected wilderness, making the most of the one kilometer private river frontage.
Now, let me tell you a little something about the Lower Zambezi. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the most incredible wildlife sightings on the planet. I'm talking leopards and herds of elephants. The best way to experience this amazing destination is on foot with one of African Bush Camps' experienced guides. Picture yourself walking through those towering acacia forests, searching for Africa's famous wildlife. It's truly one of life's unbeatable adventures.
Now, the lodge itself is something else. It effortlessly combines the luxury you'd expect in a world-class safari camp with a modest elegance and simplicity that can only be found in the African bush. Whether you're planning a family getaway or a romantic escape, Lolebezi has got you covered with its four superior suites and two double family units. Oh, and did I mention that each suite has a private plunge pool? It's perfect for chilling out after a hot African afternoon with a G&T in hand, watching the great river slowly flow past.
Reasons to choose Zambia as your Safari Destination
There are many compelling reasons to choose Zambia as your safari destination. Here are some of them:
Wild and Untouched Wilderness: Unlike some other safari destinations, many of Zambia's national parks and reserves feel wild and untouched, providing an authentic safari experience. Zambia’s government has prioritised conservation and responsible tourism, which has resulted in beautifully preserved ecosystems.
Exceptional Wildlife: Zambia is home to a diverse array of wildlife. From the big five - lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and Cape buffaloes - to a wide variety of bird species, Zambia has something for every wildlife enthusiast. The South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park, in particular, are renowned for their high density and diversity of wildlife.
Birthplace of Walking Safaris: Zambia is known as the birthplace of the walking safari. These safaris offer an intimate and immersive experience of the African bush, allowing you to track animals and learn about the ecosystem in a way that's just not possible from a vehicle.
Diverse Landscapes: From Victoria Falls, one of the world's largest and most spectacular waterfalls, to the vast plains of Liuwa Plain National Park and the water-based safaris of Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia offers a wide range of unique landscapes to explore.
Night Drives: Many parks in Zambia allow night drives, offering a unique opportunity to see nocturnal creatures and predators on the hunt. It's a whole different world after dark, and a night drive can be a thrilling experience.
Warm Zambian Hospitality: Zambians are known for their warmth and hospitality. The local guides and staff at lodges go out of their way to ensure that visitors have the best experience possible.
Luxury Lodges: Zambia offers a variety of luxury lodges and camps that cater to the discerning traveller. These lodges combine luxury and comfort with excellent game-viewing opportunities, providing a truly unforgettable safari experience.
From the awe-inspiring natural beauty to the rich wildlife and warm hospitality, Zambia offers a unique safari destination that is sure to provide memories to last a lifetime.
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Article by Craig Howes