Zambia - Off the beaten track
Kafue National Park
This vast park is Zambia's largest, home to grassland plains stretching for hundreds of kilometres, forests lining the banks of the Kafue River, and critters big and small everywhere you look. Kafue is prime safari territory, with the lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, antelopes, zebras and even ultra-rare yellow-backed duikers to prove it. One highlight is the Busanga Plains at the northern end of the park. This 750 sq km (290 sq mi) area floods from March to May, when it becomes a giant bathing ground for thousands of hippos and millions of birds. Another good bird-watching spot is Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, where herons, spoonbills and many other waterbirds roost.
There are a number of places to stay in the park, including camp sites, chalets and lodges. Most are along the Kafue River. The park is about 200km (125mi) west of Lusaka and is accessible by car, though the roads are generally horrible and most visitors who can afford it fly in by chartered plane.
Ngonye (Sioma) Falls
If it weren't for Victoria Falls 300km (185mi) downstream, the Ngonye Falls would be a major attraction. Luckily for visitors, it's a wonderful place that's free of the tourist trappings of its better-known counterpart. Admittedly, the plunge isn't nearly the same - the Ngonye Falls only fall a few metres - but the broad expanse of the cascade is a magnificent sight. There's good white-water rafting below the falls. Nearby is Sioma Ngwezi National Park, where you can spot elephants taking a night-time drink. The falls are 600km (370mi) east of Lusaka, and about 200km (125mi) south of the town of Mongu. If you aren't driving your own vehicle, the bus from Mongu to the Namibian border can let you off less than a kilometre west of the falls.
Located at the northeastern end of Lake Kariba, Siavonga is the nearest most Zambians get to the seaside. The town is quiet and low-key, while the dam offers great views of the lake on the southwestern side and the Zambezi River gorge on the other. There's fine fishing and boating on the lake. About 40km (25mi) north is the Chirundu Fossil Forest, with 150-million-year-old trees and Stone Age artefacts.
Siavonga is a great spot to take in the view, but don't go in the water - or even too close to the shore: the lake's positively crawling with crocodiles, and they make lunch out of 20 to 30 people every year. Siavonga is about 100km (62mi) southeast of Lusaka; buses make the four-hour run between them daily.