The Zambezi National Park is a game reserve on the Zimbabwean side of the mighty Zambezi River a few kilometres upstream from the Falls.
A Wildlife Sanctuary On The Zambezi River
The Zambezi National Park covers an area of 56,000km² and forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia for most of its length.
The park stretches upstream for 50 kilometres. It’s the same stretch that David Livingstone travelled down on his way to discover the Victoria Falls in 1855.
The small but very scenic National Park supports a lush riverside bush in which bushbuck and duiker seek shade and protection. The Zambezi River is famous for its bream and tiger fish as well as numerous other species of fish.
The abundance of birdlife is a birder’s paradise with herons, kingfishers, and many other species of birds.
The predominant types of vegetation are mopane woodland and riverine forest, which have some fantastic trees like apple-ring, fig, and ebony.
This park is not the biggest in the area, this distinction goes to Hwange National Park.
It, however, offers good game viewing opportunities with a wide variety of larger mammal species, including lion, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra.
It’s always exciting watching the elephants coming to drink at the water’s edge and then sometimes swimming across the river to maybe an island or the opposite bank.
The park is also home to several species of antelope, including eland, kudu, waterbuck, impala and sable. All this is within an easy and short distance of Victoria Falls.
To view the wildlife either take advantage of the walking safaris on offer or take a trip along the Zambezi National Park Game Drive which has an extensive road network along the river, there are 25 outstanding picnic and fishing sites for day visitors along this route.
The 25 kilometre Chamabondo Game Drive in the southern area covers the rest of the park. The roads are in reasonable condition, but the park may be closed after heavy rains make the roads impassable.
Zambezi National Park Activities
The lodges usually provide guided game drives into the Zambezi National Park along with the majority of the hotels and tour companies in Victoria Falls town. Both half day and full day game drives are available.
The driver or accompanying guide will take you on a tour of the national park explaining the flora and fauna and stopping so you can view the animals spotted in the park.
In the company of a skilled and competent professional safari guide, you can also go on a walking safari. These walks are very interesting with lots of information being provided by the guide about the area and the plants and trees you are seeing.
They will keep you safe while viewing wildlife and will guide you to the usual haunts in which they animals may be found.
Canoeing On The Zambezi
An alternative to viewing wildlife is to enjoy half-day canoe trips that are conducted within the park.
This is a relaxing and enjoyable time spent paddling past the banks of the Zambezi river, watching the birdlife and occasional animal coming for a drink, and taking in the beauty of the Zambezi waterway.
It is the perfect way to experience the beauty and peace of the river with closeup viewings of all it’s bird and wildlife. An unforgettable experience.
Zambezi National Park Animals
The Zambezi river wildlife includes several large mammal species, including the stately sable, the national animal of Zimbabwe, the lion, the elephant, the buffalo, the giraffe, and the zebra, can be found in the park. There is a good variety of antelope species including waterbuck, and impala too.
Leopard sightings are uncommon however the ideal time to see African wild dogs in the park is from May to August, when they are in their dens.
The river is teeming with hippopotamus pods wallowing in the river during the day before emerging at night to graze on the riverbanks. It’s common to spot crocodiles lurking along the riverbanks too.
Birds In The National Park
Huge trees hang over the river and serve as perches for kingfishers, herons, and fish eagles, while the river’s edges are covered with a thick woodland fringe that provides shade and shelter for bushbuck and duiker.
The park is a bird lover’s delight with specialties like:
- Pel’s Fishing Owl
- African Skimmer
- Collared Palm Thrush
- Lanner Falcon
- Goliath Heron
- Kori Bustard
- African Finfoot
- Rock Pratincole
- Long-Toed Lapwing
The Zambezi National Park is home to an estimated 400 species of birds.
Zambezi National Park Accommodation
Spectacular sunrises and sunsets are common, and the region is well-known for its landscape and wildlife photography.
Camping and Self-catering Lodges
Zimbabwe National Park lodges are comfortable, basic self-catering lodges. National Parks also provides some basic camping facilities with each camp able to accommodate a maximum of 12 people.
You will certainly experience wild Africa firsthand as these camps are unfenced and open to the bush. They are equipped with a braai (barbecue) stand and a basic bush toilet only.
Visiting and staying at the Zambezi National Park will get you close to nature with basic amenities.
Please be aware that security precautions must be taken when you are not in camp. Animals and people from across the river may visit your camp and help themselves to certain items.
Exclusive Camps and Hotels
A few exclusive safari camps and hotels may be found dispersed along the Zambezi River, some of which are situated on its islands. You may be able to see the spray of the falls at certain times of year from these accommodations.
All of these are opulent camps that provide fully catered lodgings along with a variety of their own activities, such as boat tours and game drives. Some camps provide scheduled transportation into Victoria Falls town for curio shopping and the chance to do some popular activities.
However, in order for you to take full advantage of the activities available at Victoria Falls, we suggest combining a stay at one of the park lodges with a longer stay in the town.
Picnic Spots In The Zambezi National Park
There are 25 picnic and fishing sites for day visitors along the Chamabondo Game Drive which are situated on the most scenic spots on the river. There are plenty of shady trees, like Natal Mahogany, to sit under and take in the view with a cold drink in your hand.
These are ideal spots to spend the day relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds of the river, birdlife, and the occasional wildlife that may pass by. The Zambezi river through the park is very tranquil and beautiful with lots of photographic opportunities to take advantage of.
How To Get To The Zambezi National Park
Self-drivers will enter Victoria Falls town by the Mosi-oa-Tunya Road or the Bulawayo Road. Turn into Park Way Drive in the center of the town and follow this route 4.8kms all the way to the gate leading into the Zambezi National Park. It is easy not to get lost.
Please note that the gate opens at 6am and closes at 6pm. There is no entrance or exit outside of these hours. You must check in and pay the park entrance charge prior to entering.
If your arrival is by plane, most of the private safari lodges in the park will pick you up from Victoria Falls Airport if you are staying at one of them. Instead, a private transfer may be arranged.
Zambezi National Park Map
Zimbabwe National Park Fees For The Zambezi National Park
|International (US$)||Regional (US$)||Zimbabwe Residents (ZWL)|
|Parks Daily Entrance Fee||$15||$12||$50|
|Fees If Staying In The Park||$8||$6||TBA|
|Children 6 – 12 Years||50% of adult rate||50% of adult rate||50% of adult rate|
|Under 12 Years||Free||Free||Free|