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Wildlife Guide for Zimbabwe and Zambia

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Spotting wildlife on an African safari is not necessarily an 'easy' task. It can require hours of driving to a remote national park, a knowledgeable guide, and then a lot of patience. Leading up to this, you must carefully plan to be in the right park at the right time of year in order to increase your chances of seeing the species you would most like to spot. Some species are abundant across all areas in Zimbabwe and Zambia, such as the elephant, however some species may require a bit more focused attention in the planning stages if you hope to spot them on your Africa trip. See below a guide by species for where to best spot these magnificent creatures throughout Zimbabwe and Zambia.


Black Rhino:  Very rare throughout Zimbabwe and Zambia. The best place to spot these creatures again is in Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe. They can also be spotted if you are lucky in North Luangwa National Park in Zambia, although it is not as likely at Matobo Hills.

Buffalo:  Fairly abundant in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Cheetah:  Rarely spotted in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The best places to try to see them are the remote Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe or Kafue National Park in Zambia.

Elephant:  Both Zambia and Zimbabwe national parks offer abundant opportunity to spot these giants. Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe however has some of the healthiest populations in the whole region, and even in all of Africa. Go here for some incredible underground blinds that offer amazing photography opportunities of these gentle giants.

Giraffe:  While they are common in Zambia, giraffe are not very often spotted in some of the parks throughout Zimbabwe. In fact, on some safaris, they can be the one animal you will have to forego seeing in order to see the Big 5. They are more common in Zambia compared to Zimbabwe, with the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia being home to a unique sub-species - Thornicroft's giraffe.

Hippo:  These large water lovers are found along most riverbanks or lakeshores. They are particularly abundant anywhere along the Kafue river, the Zambezi River, and in the water pockets throughout the Luangwa Valley. Best places to spot them are Mana Pools National Park, Matusadona National Park along Lake Kariba, any of the Zambezi parks, and in South Luangwa or lower Kafue river in Kafue National Park

Hyena:  These are commonly spotted in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Leopard:  Rarely seen in Zimbabwe .The night drives permitted in Zambia greatly increase the opportunities for spotting these elusive nighttime creatures.  They are best seen in the Busanga Plains in northern Kafue National Park or in South Luangwa National Park.

Lion:  Fairly common sighting throughout both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Large prides of lion are known for inhabiting the Busanga Plains in northern Kafue National Park.

White Rhino:  Very rare throughout Zimbabwe and Zambia. Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe is one of the best places to spot them in the wild on a walking
safari. A few are also under protection at Mosi-oa-tunya National park in Zambia, however this does not offer an authentic 'safari' viewing experience.

Wild Dog:  A rare sighting in both countries, though healthy populations do exist in both. Zimbabwe is one of the last remaining holdouts in all of Africa for healthy wild dog populations. The best places to spot them in Zimbabwe are Hwange National Park, Gonarezhou National Park, Mana Pools National Park, and Zambezi National Park.

Wildebeest:  Only occasionally spotted in Zambia in Liuwa Plain National Park which is home to some populations. They are more commonly seen in Zimbabwe.

Zebra:  More easily spotted in Zambia National Parks as opposed to Zimbabwe. A few parks in Zimbabwe do not have any, but most places will have sighting opportunities. South Luangwa National Park is a good choice for spotting them.

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