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Zambia’s huge size and relatively small population (just over 13 million) means that there’s an awful lot of not much at all. And with 20% of the country set aside as national parks and still further areas reserved for hunting, it’s clear that overlanders won’t be spending much time travelling from one bustling city to another.
That said, there are 2 urban areas that Zambian overlanders are likely to experience - find out more below.
Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, is a sprawling, swollen city that has grown too fast and - to be honest - has little appeal for travellers. It does straddle the Great North Road however - the main highway that runs through the guts of Africa - so you’ll undoubtedly pass through the city en route to or from East Africa and Victoria Falls/Livingstone.
Lusaka didn’t exist before the 20th century and until 1931 when the country’s capital was moved here from Livingstone it was just a small, sleepy agricultural village. There was rapid growth during the 1960s and it’s now a city of two million people and one of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa - indeed, it covers an area of over 70 sq km and since there has been no influx control, the city is bursting at the seams.
But Lusaka is also a city undergoing a face-lift. New modern shopping malls and smart fast food outlets have been built and more are going up; old buildings are being refurbished and the pot holes in the roads are being filled in. Viewed from the villages, Lusaka is the glittering capital and it still persuades rural Zambians to take the bus there in search of jobs and dreams.
The town of Livingstone owes its existence to Victoria Falls. It was named after the missionary and explorer Dr. David Livingstone, the first European to discover, name and tell the rest of world about the mighty waterfall.
Livingstone is a compact town and easy to get around, with a few interesting sights along the main road. These include the Livingstone Museum, which houses memorabilia related to David Livingstone and his exploration of the region in the 1850s, and the Railway Museum. Other local attractions include the Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘smoke that thunders’) National Park, located adjacent to the Victoria Falls.
There are also a whole host of activities on offer that are Victoria Falls related, and many operate from the Zambian side of the Zambezi Bridge. In the Bakota Gorge, you can go white-water rafting and river-boarding on the rapids below the falls, or you can splash around in a powerful jet boat. From the top, you can throw yourself into the gorge on a gorge swing, flying fox or abseil. On the edge of town is the airfield where helicopters and micro-lights depart for scenic flights over the falls.
Once you’ve done all that, you can simply walk over the bridge to Zimbabwe and try the activities on offer on that side. Oh, and don’t forget to bungee jump off the bridge itself on the way. It’s said that the Zambia Railways makes more profit from the bungee jump, whose operators pay them a fee to use the bridge, than they do from the whole Zambia rail network each year.