Zambia is largely a country of mopane woodland, hardwood forest with understory that varies from open woods to very heavy thorn. There are broad river valleys, floodplains, and swamps that, conservatively, offer a tremendous variety of habitats.
Zambia is deceptively large – large enough that very few concession areas are reachable by road. It is not practical to switch from the Luangwa to the Kafue or the Bangweulu without aid of a charter aircraft.
MAJOR HUNTING AREAS
The huge Luangwa Valley and the hills to the east and west unquestionably form one of the greatest general bag areas in Africa. Lion and leopard are of high quality and in very good numbers. Buffalo are quite plentiful. Greater kudu are present and southern roan antelope, though not common, are still huntable. Many species, including waterbuck, kudu, reedbuck, impala, warthog, Cookson’s wildebeest, puku, hippo, and zebra, are incredibly abundant along the Luangwa. Other species, such as bushbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck, hippo, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, and grysbok can be included in the bag.
A 5,000-foot plateau of hardwood forest and thornbush lying to the northwest of Lusaka, the Kafue offers yet another exceptional general bag area. Shooting blocks here offer superb sable and roan, and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are plentiful. Sable 45 inches or better are not uncommon. Our clients have taken several over 50″! This area is very, very good for well-maned lions, has plenty of leopard, and buffalo are not abundant, horn quality is excellent. This area offers the rare Crawshay’s waterbuck and there are sitatunga and yellowback duiker along some watercourses. Bushbuck, kudu, eland, puku, reedbuck, hippo, oribi, duiker, bushpig, warthog, hyena, and zebra are found in concessions of the Kafue Plateau.
The floodplains of the Kafue River hold the entire population of Kafue lechwe, longest-horned of the lechwe group. This area is generally used for a one or two-day hunt strictly for Kafue lechwe. It is a two to three-hour drive from Lusaka.
Although sitatunga are well distributed in Zambia, the vast majority of the sitatunga hunting is conducted in and around the vast Bangweulu Swamp. Also found are large herds of tsessebe, oribi, and the entire world population of black lechwe. We recommend a four to five-day side trip from a Luangwa or Kafue safari. However, it does require a charter aircraft to reach it within the time constraints of a hunting safari. A ten-day specialized hunt is recommended for a combination of the Kafue and Bangweulu species.
North of Lusaka a number of privately owned ranches contain a variety of species that can be included if your primary hunting area doesn’t offer some species. For example, the Luangwa Valley offers no sable, but a two or three-day side trip could add a quality sable to your bag.
Most safaris in Zambia are conducted from permanent camps with thatched huts on cement slabs or tent camps. Most safaris are slanted around a general bag, often with lion and/or leopard at the top of the list. Cat hunting is excellent in Zambia, with virtually all hunting done by baiting. Though successful, this is a time consuming technique. Safaris of two weeks or so generally concentrate on just one area, working mainly on the cats and hunting the available plains species along the way.