After a soul-stirring day of watching hippo bathe in the Lower Zambezi or giraffe striding across the savannah in South Luangwa National Park, there’s nothing better than retreating to the stylish creature comforts of a luxury oasis in the bush. Arrive at any one of these best safari lodges in Zambia to find swoon-worthy camps that look as if they’ve been lifted straight from the pages of a magazine. Design esthetics may vary, but the best lodges share many attributes: sublime landscapes, highly personalized levels of service, tantalizing cuisine, a commitment to conservation and community, and exceptional guiding. Ranging from just four to 12 suites, you’re guaranteed an intimate safari experience in the heart of the Zambian wilderness.
The best safari lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park
Straddling the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park reaches out and locks hands with Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia) to form an enormous trans-frontier wildlife sanctuary—a productive place for big game viewing. Spot elephants drinking on the riverbank, a lion cooling off with an afternoon swim, or take to the gentle waters in a canoe to paddle past crocodiles. At the end of each splendid day, retire to one of the best Zambia luxury safari lodges to admire a star-filled sky, relishing in the realization that you are in a place where the modern world has yet to intrude upon nature.
Set upon 12 acres of protected wilderness, Lolebezi boasts more than half a mile of private Zambezi riverfront. Featuring four romantic superior suites and two double family units, this intimate lodge blends the luxury of a world-class safari camp with the simple elegance of life in the African bush. Hit the trails in search of leopards with your experienced guide during the day; in the afternoon, come back to take a dip in your private plunge pool. Alternatively, enjoy a spa treatment, meditate on the yoga deck, or sip a cocktail in the thatched Sala overlooking the river.
- Wake up to views of the mighty Zambezi River flowing past your room.
- Stay cool in your fully air-conditioned suite.
- Catch a movie in the forested open-air cinema
Who it’s best for: Romantic couples, couples celebrating a special occasion, and families.
Sausage Tree Camp
Set on the riverfront in the heart of the national park, Sausage Tree Camp’s seven tented suites and Kigelia House are generously spaced along the riverbank. This assures guests their privacy but also provides the elephants with plenty of room to amble between suites! Start your day with an open-air shower before discovering the Lower Zambezi by private game-viewing vehicle, boat, or canoe. In the afternoon, take a dip in your private plunge pool and then head to the open-air dining tent to savor gourmet African-inspired fusion dishes.
- Allow your “Muchinda” (private butler) to take care of your every whim.
- The camp has no boundaries, so animals are free to wander through.
- Give back: Sausage Tree Camp supports Conservation Lower Zambezi, which helps to protect the park’s wildlife.
Who it’s best for: Adventurers in search of exclusivity and private vehicle game drives.
Soak up the historic ambiance at Chiawa Camp, the first camp to set up in Lower Zambezi National Park. Offering an unhurried safari experience alongside a wide selection of more active pursuits, Chiawa is one of Zambia’s best luxury safari lodges. Eight luxurious safari tents showcase a perfect blend of form and functionality that’s enhanced by furnishings crafted by local artisans. What’s more, the lodge’s safari suites enjoy commanding views of the region. Spend unforgettable days meeting elephants on game walks or canoeing past hippos on the river, and in the evening, dine on Afro/Euro dishes by the campfire.
- Tent decks feature a unique “bench wallow,” areas that serve as a sunken lounge in cooler months, and a plunge pool during the hotter months.
- Enjoy breakfast, brunch, or lunch in the bush or on a boat on the Zambezi.
- River safaris take place on custom-built pontoon boats with environmentally sensitive four-stroke outboard motors.
Who it’s best for: Adventurers who enjoy a nostalgic ambiance and a robust offering of active leisure activities.
Sitting in the heart of Winterthorn Forest, in a quieter area of Lower Zambezi National Park, Anabezi guests often experience game viewing in relative privacy. This sophisticated camp is home to 12 beautiful tented suites built upon elevated boardwalks which allow elephant, buffalo, and antelope to roam freely through the camp. Spend glorious days watching elephants swimming from island to island as you cruise down the Zambezi River or grab your camera and head off on a photographic safari. In the afternoon, cool off in your private plunge pool or treat yourself to an in-room massage. When it’s time to eat, dine on the Zambezi Deck as impala stroll by, and then retire to the Mushika Deck to sip a G&T.
- Boardwalks mean you can safely walk around camp during the day without an escort.
- Since Anabezi’s establishment, anti-poaching patrols have resumed in the eastern regions of the park. The lodge provides back-up patrols to these initiatives.
- Anglers can cast a line to hook a legendary African tigerfish.
Who it’s best for: Discerning travelers who appreciate creature comforts like plunge pools and over-the-bed air conditioning.
The best luxury safari lodges in South Luangwa National Park
If there’s nothing you love more than getting up close to wildlife, the intensely beautiful South Luangwa is the national park of choice when it comes to walking safaris. Lace up your hiking boots and prepare for sightings of lion, elephant, buffalo, hippo, zebra, antelope, and Thornicoft’s giraffe–the only park in Zambia where you can find giraffe. South Luangwa’s 3,500 square miles (about the size of Yellowstone) are also home to an incredible density of leopards, so you’re almost certain to see a few of these elusive cats. During the hotter months, walking safaris depart early in the morning, while game drives take place in the afternoons.
Sitting in the northern reaches of South Luangwa National Park—one of Africa’s most remote and abundant game-viewing regions—Lion Camp is one of the best safari lodges in Zambia. Featuring eight luxury and two deluxe thatch-and-canvas suites on stilts that boast private decks with unobstructed views, Lion Camp offers an authentic safari experience where lion and leopard steal the show. Stride out on foot to explore on a walking safari, head out on a game drive, or with a naturalist on a specialized photographic safari. In the afternoon, take a dip in the pool, play a game of billiards or head to the water-level hide for some more up-close game-viewing. In the evening, take a seat at the dinner table in a traditional boma under the stars.
- Start the day with a bush breakfast while you watch crocodiles and a bloat of hippo.
- The deluxe honeymoon suite boasts a rooftop sleep-out deck for a night under the stars.
- The unique photographic studio features a large working space, international plug points, and USB chargers.
Who it’s best for: This camp offers a fully rounded safari experience, making it a great option for travelers who prefer to stay at just one lodge. Chic design features and beautiful styling add elegance to the bush experience.
Puku Ridge overlooks a private floodplain and offers a remote and refined wilderness experience. Its elevated landscape allows guests to spot giraffe or puku (antelope) right from one of the best luxury safari lodges in Zambia. With its elegant architectural style to its thoughtfully outfitted game-viewing vehicles, you’ll find sophistication at every turn. Spend incredible days tracking leopards on walking safaris, and then head to one of the camp’s eight luxury safari tents to enjoy a relaxing soak in your huge bathtub overlooking the flood plain. Alternatively, languish in the plunge pool on your multi-level veranda before heading to the lodge’s open-air lounge to dine. When it’s time for bed, return to your tent to sleep in your “star bed” under the vast African night sky.
- Observe wildlife at the camp’s perfectly positioned photographic hide in front of its private watering hole.
- Take a “Red Light Night Drive” to see the park’s predators without disturbing their hunting activities.
- Silver status carbon-neutral camp.
Who it’s best for: Sophisticated travelers who appreciate a shorter transfer from the airport and an uber-luxe experience in camp.
Sitting on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River, Chinzombo is one of Zambia’s best safari lodges. A wildly luxurious camp, its sophisticated brand of bush authenticity blends effortlessly with its idyllic riverside setting. There are just five luxury safari tents and one family tent with features that include eco-cooled sleeping areas, large verandahs with private pools, and soaking tubs with riverfront views. The area is renowned for elusive leopard sightings, as well as large herds of elephants. In the afternoon, return to the lodge to stretch out on a shaded verandah and unwind with a blissful in-room spa treatment before heading to the main lodge to indulge in a superb dinner under the stars.
- Stylish tents dressed in neutrals and organic textures, with design accents that harken back to the early days of safari.
- Chinzombo is a great option for multi-generation trips, as children of all ages are welcome.
- The lodge’s Time + Tide Foundation invests in the future productivity of wildlife economies through community and school-based learning.
Who it’s best for: Just a one-hour game drive transfer from Mfuwe Airport, this is a great option for adventurers who don’t want to waste any time starting their safari.
The best luxury safari lodges in Liuwa Plain
Escape the crowds of the busier parks and head off the beaten path through the grassy flood plains, wooded islands, raffia palm clusters, and open pans of Liuwa Plains National Park. This remote landscape is characterized by its sweeping expanses, seasonal flooding, and abundant wildlife. Expect to come face-to-face with herds of wildebeest, packs of hyenas, and resident lion prides.
Surround yourself in golden light and vast blue skies at King Lewanika, one of the best safari lodges in Zambia. Its five luxury safari tents and one family safari tent are the epitome of timeless bush elegance. Adorned in leather, cotton, and canvas, they exude vintage charm. Each has an indoor and outdoor shower, a comfortable lounge, and an impressive verandah—all boasting views over the plains. Join experienced guides on a safari to admire some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife, including the region’s growing cheetah population, on foot, in a game vehicle, or by canoe. In the afternoon, look out over the horizon from the lodge’s serene main lounge before heading to the campfire to spend a few contented hours under a canopy of endless stars.
- King Lewanika is the only permanent camp in Liuwa Plains National Park.
- Children of all ages are welcome, so it’s a great option for families and multi-generational groups.
- Treat yourself to the camp’s unforgettable “Sleepout Under the Stars” fly camping experience.
Who it’s best for: King Lewanika is perfect for adventurers who like to go beyond the beaten path. It’s also a superb spot if you want to catch the second-largest wildebeest migration in Africa.
The best luxury safari lodge in Kafue National Park
Breathtaking Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia and the second largest in Africa. The jewel in the Kafue crown has to be the Busanga Plains to the north, which are said to provide some of the best lion-viewing on the continent.
Shumba Camp operates for just five months each year, making it one of the most exclusive safari camps in the whole of Africa. Located on its own little island in the heart of Busanga Plains, the lodge features six luxury suites built on raised platforms so you can observe incredible wildlife from every angle. The area is home to leopard, hyena, and cheetah, as well as the park’s star attraction: “flying lions” who can be seen leaping over channels of water, running through the flooded plains as they hunt. Whether you spend your days exploring the plains by game vehicle, on foot, or by boat, Busanga is simply incomparable. After a day of first-class wildlife-watching, retreat to Shumba to take a dip in the pool overlooking the flood plains and then dine beneath endless stars.
- Discover the wetlands of Busanga Plains, which are often referred to as a “mini Serengeti.”
- Rise before the sun to admire lechwe (antelope) in the park’s misty “Plains of Plenty.”
- Dine on Zambian cuisine cooked over an open fire and in a starlit boma.
Who it’s best for: Travelers who value genuine exclusivity and unique wildlife encounters. Shumba is also a big hit with adventurers who yearn to get off the beaten path to witness the wild beauty of Zambia’s “mini Serengeti.”
The best luxury safari lodge on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls
Originally called Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders,” Victoria Falls hugs the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Zambia, it sits in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which stretches seven-and-a-half miles along the Zambezi River. Not only is the region home to Africa’s showstopping waterfalls, but it also borders several ancient wildlife migration routes and river crossing points, some of which are still frequented by elephants.
Royal Chundu Island Lodge
Royal Chundu Island Lodge sits on a remote, private island on the Zambezi, making it one of the best luxury lodges in Zambia. With its seclusion and exclusivity, all four of its spacious suites open up onto private decks that overlook the rapids. Spend incredible days white-water rafting on the Zambezi or fly over the falls in a helicopter. Alternatively, unwind in your infinity pool or spend an hour relaxing in a riverside bathtub. In the evening, meander along the lodge’s teak walkways to reach the main dining room, where you’ll sample pan-African cuisine. The next day, treat yourself to an authentic boma experience as you dine under the great branches of an ancient baobab tree.
- From river fish to baobab ice cream, experience locally sourced creative dining at its best.
- Indulge in a luxurious spa treatment in the privacy of your own suite.
- Arrange a private picnic for two on the riverbank, complete with Persian carpets and hammocks.
Who it’s best for: Island Lodge is located 18 miles upstream from Victoria Falls, so it’s perfect for travelers who wish to escape to a tranquil retreat after a busy day in Livingstone and at Victoria Falls.
Some of our favorite luxury Zambia itineraries
Exclusive-Use Properties and Superb Wildlife
Explore two of Zambia’s Iconic Parks and Diverse Activities
Explore South & North Luangwa on game drives and walking safari