A Zambian Safari by the Numbers

Lion cubs - South Luangwa
Lion cubs - South Luangwa

There are 1,001 reasons to go on an African safari: Preying, pouncing, and lounging animals. Eating, ogling, and drinking during sundowners. No WiFi. Total immersion. But it doesn’t have to remain one of those bucket list “somedays.” Perhaps a relative died and you’re in the will, or you got laid off and pocketed severance? Terrific! (Also, sorry for your loss.) Get way (way) out of town and head to Zambia, the butterfly-shaped country north of Zimbabwe, where the 3,500 square-mile South Luangwa National Park is home to lions, giraffes, elephants, and pukusaplenty.

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Experience walking safaris and night drives at The Bushcamp Company’s six remote, solar-powered luxury camps dotted throughout the park—you just may hear lions roaring outside your tent one night. Here, all the numbers you need to know about going into the bush. (No giggling please, that’s actually what the wilderness is called.)

7: Number of times before the trip you’ll Google “how many people die from malaria” before you even step foot on the plane.

7,562: Miles traveled from New York City to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

17.5: Hours in the air to Johannesburg, South Africa (via South African Airways), plus another two and change to get to Zambia.

22,000: Elephants (or “ellies”) found in the country, 7,000 to 9,000 of which are in the Luangwa Valley.



1950s: Decade during which the walking safari was originated in Zambia, where people can leave their vehicles and stay stock still so elephants don’t trample them, while trampling on plenty of poop themselves.

6 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m.: Feeding times for a human’s breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.

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465: Species of birds found in the park, enough to make a birder faint from ornithological overdose.

11: Seats in the Land Rover you’ll call home during twice-daily drives.
$350-650: Average cost per person per night (all-inclusive) at one of the six bushcamps.

20: Average length (in inches) of a giraffe’s tongue; the Luangwa Valley is known for the rare Thornicroft’s giraffe, which are only found in the wild, never in zoos (hands off, Danes)

4,725,126 (estimated): Stars seen at night; download Pocket Universe to figure out what’s what.




7: Colors seen on the lilac-breasted roller, the most photographed bird in Africa.

49,400: Google results found for “how many people die from malaria”

1987: Year the park’s population of black rhinos were killed off by poachers. Epic sad face.

3: G&Ts consumed during the traditional safari “sundowner” a.k.a. the acting of driving around the bush and stopping to toast the sun going down.

$400,000: Money raised by Bushcamp Company for their conservation and community fund, which goes towards local schools, tree planting projects and building classrooms and dormitories.

8: Minutes the hippo—a common sight huffing along the river—can hold its breath under water.

5,000: Years the baobab tree can live, bringing a whole new dimension to its starring role as the Tree of Life in The Lion King.

4: Weeks after trip you’ll need to take your precious malaria pills so you don’t die from malaria.

All of them: Photos you’ll take during a safari that don’t come anywhere close to the magic of actually being there.

Kara Cutruzzula is a culture and travel writer based in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @karacut.

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