Above: Hippos seen from Zambezi Sundowner Cruise - ANDREW HARPER

Video: Zambezi River Wildlife

The main reason — indeed, often the only reason — people visit the Victoria Falls region is to visit the extraordinary waterfall itself. Victoria Falls is one of the world’s great natural wonders, and I highly recommend walking along both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of it (Victoria Falls straddles the border of the two countries). But people who visit only the falls miss out on the wonderful safari experiences available nearby.

We spent time in safari lodges upstream of Victoria Falls, both on the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the Zambezi River. In Zambia, we had a sensational game drive in compact Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where we had zebra, impala, baboon and warthog all to ourselves, with no other safari vehicles to disturb the magic of the moment. We also were able to walk, accompanied by armed rangers, to within about 50 feet of some grazing rhino.

In Zimbabwe, our guide took us on an equally memorable game drive in the immense Zambezi National Park, where again we had the animals all to ourselves. The elephant, wildebeest and giraffe were beautiful, but it was especially exciting to see some rare sable antelope.

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