At this writing, quite a few operators and their US agents are actively selling safaris. Indeed, the country is open and a handful of major areas have been allocated. However, we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't tell you that there is still a haze of ambiguity over many major areas. For one thing, six of the best areas in the country (Mumbwa, Nyampala, Sichifulo, Mwanya, Chifunda and Upper Lupande) are still under what is called "judicial review," and a final settlement is not expected until the middle of February. There are conflicting opinions about the seriousness of the legal challenge to these areas, but we do think clients booked into any of these areas deserve reassurance before any deals are finalized.
The other source of ambiguity is the fact that many lease agreements have not been fully executed at this point. Fully executed means signed by Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), by the safari company and by the relevant Community Resource Board (CRB). The latter signature is particularly important because some CRBs in Zambia are known to be unhappy with the decisions made about their areas. Some have publicly said they will resist the efforts of safari companies to enter their areas.
Ultimately, we think the above-mentioned problems are on their way to being resolved. Barring something unforeseen, we think a full safari season is on the horizon in Zambia. The key is to book with professionals who have earned your trust and who level with you about the continuing ambiguities.