The General Term For a National Park is “Natural Reserve”
So what do you call it when you’re in the mood for a little escapism, but you don’t want to go to the beach? Enter Zambia’s epic natural reserves, whose breathtaking landscapes and iconic wildlife have long left visitors from all over the world speechless.
In Zambia, national parks are officially referred to as natural reserves. While there are some similarities between how these protected areas are designated within Zambia’s borders and elsewhere (and they’re often used interchangeably), they’re not quite the same thing. The term “national park” was first coined in 1872 by Yellowstone Park pioneer William Henry Hornaday as an alternative to its previous name, which was not nearly as catchy: “Public Park or Pleasuring-Ground for the Benefit and Enjoyment of People.” Most national parks today have a strong focus on education and preservation; some have restrictions on certain human activities like hunting that don’t apply within a protected area classified as a natural reserve. Within both types of areas, however, you can see iconic species like elephants and lions in their natural habitats.
If you’d like more information about Africa’s natural reserves—or just want to get excited about your next trip—Zambia Tourism has links to helpful resources such as park fees and opening hours here.
Before your safari adventure gets underway, be sure to pack accordingly!
Most Zambian Safaris Cost Less
Many Zambian safaris cost less than $300 for a three-day trip, and even the more expensive options are much cheaper than those in neighboring countries. South Africa, for example, can charge up to $400 per person per day (and some national parks even have “high season” rates that can be more than double that price).
So how do you know which is the cheapest Zambian safari tour? Some people opt for the one-day Chobe trip out of Livingstone: it’s quick and easy, but as mentioned before, a sub-$300 option is likely to be a better value overall. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck with a two- or three-day tour, so find one that fits your budget. You’ll ultimately get the most out of your money by taking advantage of all the extra experiences these longer trips offer—from walking safaris to night game drives and river cruises.
The Best Way to Visit The National Parks
The best way to visit the national parks is by car. While this may sound obvious, it’s not. The national parks in Zambia are not open to the public and the government does not allow private vehicles on the roads, so you’ll have to charter a 4WD safari vehicle with a driver-guide. This works out well because they can spot all of the wildlife, drive you to where they hang out, and tell you interesting facts about their life cycles as you go. There are no paved roads inside the park either, so be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Land Rover’s 400-Horsepower Engine Was Designed for Off-road Driving
A 4WD’s engine is one of its most important components, and it’s specially designed to meet the unique demands of off-road driving. While the focus used to be on power and torque (the force that makes a vehicle move forward), now fuel efficiency is just as important. The latest engines are turbocharged argued, lightweight, and compact, which means better power, higher torque delivery, and lower fuel consumption.
As for the transmission system, this is what transfers the engine’s power—and therefore off-road ability—to all four wheels using a transfer case (a special gearbox). This allows improved traction in difficult conditions such as mud or snow. There are two main types: full-time 4WD lets you switch between 2WD (where only two wheels receive power) and 4WD while driving; part-time 4WD operates only in 2H (high range) mode until you flip a switch to engage 4H mode when needed.
If you’re crossing water or snow with your ride, air intake ports can draw in these elements through an alternative route that bypasses the engine. You might also see some cars have snorkels fitted high up near the roof of their vehicles for extra protection against water fording—although this would probably make you a bit too much like Mad Max if it wasn’t already clear from your aggressive approach to road safety.
Driving in Zambia Requires Skill and Planning
We were in a whirlwind Zambian safari, and we hadn’t yet found our way to the Serengeti. We were being driven by an enthusiastic friend who’d agreed to help us navigate the country, but he was still learning how to get around. He made his living in his native Malawi as a taxi driver, but this was his first time navigating with a passenger and it showed. We navigated around several blind curves in the road that had no markings on them—he just wanted to get us there as quickly as possible.
We eventually figured out that figuring out which side of a road you’re on is critical to your ability to navigate Zambia’s numerous roads. In most countries, you’re supposed to drive on whichever side of the road has more cars or more people on it. This makes sense if you’re looking at someone else’s car on either side of you—that’s why they were there! But what happens when you want to turn right? This is where things get tricky: On one hand, driving right is customary; otherwise, you’d risk hitting another car coming from your left…but this would mean that other cars wouldn’t be able to see where they were going and could easily hit yours from behind…so going straight would make sense if you see another vehicle coming from your left…but then again, everyone else driving would have trouble seeing where they are going and are likely not paying attention or care about following traffic rules because they might be trying hard not to hit anyone else…
At this point, we realized what was happening: The locals thought it was normal for all cars in front of them always be going straight ahead regardless of whether anyone else was coming up behind them or turning left or right. They didn’t know any better than we did that there shouldn’t be more than one lane per direction—they just had no idea what those numbers are written underwritten hield meant! We finally went around a corner and saw some humans.