Stand in awe before the world's largest waterfall, Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya ('the smoke that thunders'), straddling the Zambezi River between southwestern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe and considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Stay in the nearby town of Livingstone, the 'tourist capital of Zambia', a former European settlement, it's attractive in a colonial way. Its Livingstone Museum is filled to the brim with the missionary and explorer's memorabilia and anthropological exhibits, and there's a handful of luxury hotels and a small international airport.
Experience the Zambia's premier tributary, the Zambezi – though Africa's fourth largest river, it's no bubbling stream. Thrill-seeking activities on offer here including white-water rafting, riverboarding, bungee jumping and canoe safaris, but a gentle sunset sail on a traditional steamboat such as The African Queen is a perfectly pleasant way to experience the river without rushing through it, hanging over it or being dunked in it! The river is also a mecca for budding anglers who come to land a native tigerfish or a rarer giant vundu.
See Africa's big five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) but also Zambia's incredible birdlife; Lochivar in the south is a prime bird sanctuary with more than 400 different species, including wood ibis, crested cranes, enormous shoe-bill storks and even teeny-tiny bee-eaters.
Visit Kafue National Park - the largest and most central game park in Zambia, and at less than 2hrs' drive from Lusaka, one ideal for those short of time. It's famous as a place to spot the tree-climbing lions of Busanga Plains and is also the only park in Zambia where you'll see cheetah.
Head for the nearby South Luangwa National Park, one of the best game reserves in the world. Located in the Luangwa Valley, it's an extension of the East African Great Rift valley and is home to the largest leopard population in Africa.
For the ultimate way to see the wildlife, take a sunset river cruise through the Lower Zambezi National Park and watch herds of elephants rumble down to the water's edge for an early-evening splash. There are a number of family-friendly lodges scattered along the Lower Zambezi, where children as young as six can enjoy nature walks, learn to fish, watch birds and track some of Africa's lesser known mini-beasts.