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Zambezi River ¤ Vic Falls ¤ National Parks


Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, Zambia became the British colony of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, the country was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.

The Zambezi river is the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1 390 000 square kilometres (540 000 sq mi), slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 3540km-long river (2 200 mi) has its source in Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia again, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean.

The Zambezi's most well-known feature is the Victoria Falls. Other notable falls include the Chavuma Falls at the border between Zambia and Angola, and Ngonye Falls, near Sioma in Western Zambia.There are two main sources of hydroelectric power on the river. These are the Kariba Dam, which provides power to Zambia and Zimbabwe and the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique which provides power to both Mozambique and South Africa. There is also a smaller power station at Victoria Falls.

The Lower Zambezi National Park lies on the north bank of the Zambezi River in south eastern Zambia. Until 1983 when the area was declared a national park the area was the private game reserve of Zambia's president. This has resulted in the park being protected from the ravages of mass tourism and remains one of the few pristine wilderness areas left in Africa. On the opposite bank is Zimbabwe's Mana Pools national Park. The two parks sit on the Zambezi flood plain ringed by mountains. The area is a world heritage site. In fashion with the current trend in Southern Africa there is talk of linking the two parks to form a massive trans-frontier park.

The park itself is ringed by a much larger game management area (commonly referred to as GMA), there are no fences between the park and the GMA and both animals and people are free to roam across the whole area. The attraction of the Lower Zambezi park and its surrounding GMA is its remote location, unlike South African parks there are no tarred roads and you are very unlikely to encounter another tourist whilst travelling around. Tourist numbers are kept down due to the park being inaccessible by road, unless you have advanced 4x4 driving skills and even then only at certain times of the year, tourists are taken in on either a boat on the Zambezi or by light aircraft flying from either Livingstone or Lusaka.

Most large mammals in the national park congregate on the floodplain, including buffalo, numerous elephants, lions, leopards and many antelope, crocodiles and hippopotamuses. There are also a large number of species of birds, but the black rhinoceroses died out around the time the national park was declared, in 1983.
There are 19 national parks in Zambia, although a few of them are not maintained and so contain no facilities and few animals. Others have high concentrations of animals and are popular with tourists, while two or three are world-famous.