Royal-Livingstone | 26 Aug 2014 | By Sun International

Top 5 Must-See Monuments and Heritage Sites in Zambia

Close your eyes and imagine… Zambia. What do you see in your mind's eye? No doubt, the "thundering smoke" that is Victoria Falls and perhaps a rainbow as the sunlight hits the water spray? Postcard-perfect as dame Victoria is, there's so much more to explore and discover in this fascinating southern African country.

While Zambia and colonialism seem almost synonymous ("Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"), the country is rich with prehistoric sites. From ancient painted caves to the bustle of modern Lusaka, the old slave tree to the grandeur of Shiwa House, Zambia's monuments and heritage sites are as diverse as her history.

Here are five must-see historical stops to add to your itinerary on your Zambian stay.

1. Livingstone Museum (Livingstone)

Spend an afternoon museum-hopping in Livingstone. First stop: the Livingstone Museum , of course, just a short drive down the road from Sun International's five-star Royal Livingstone hotel (book through the Activity Desk). History buffs will be delighted to see the actual journals and belongings of Scottish explorer David Livingstone on display, and the museum – the biggest and oldest in Zambia – has dedicated galleries for archaeology, ethnography and art, history and natural history.

Where: Mosi-o-Tunya Road, Livingstone, Zambia

Tip: Nip over to the Maramba Cultural Museum also in Livingstone for traditional song and dance, and for something different, pull in at the Railway Museum to marvel at the locomotives – the kids will love it!

2. Freedom Statue (Lusaka)

Escape the tourist vibes of Livingstone for a day and head down the Livingstone-Lusaka road for an adventure in the hustle and bustle of the nation's capital. Check out the Freedom Statue, which shows freedom fighter Zanco Mpundu Mutembo breaking his chains. Legend has it he did so quite literally in the face of 18 armed soldiers with guns! The Freedom Statue commemorates Zambia's independence in 1964.

Where: Independence Avenue, Lusaka, Zambia

Tip: If you have the time while in Lusaka, grab a beer and a crocodile sandwich at the Kalimba Reptile Park that is a little way out of town, off District Road. Yes, you read it right, a crocodile sandwich!

3. Shiwa Ng'andu (between Mpika and Chinsali)

Rent a car in Lusaka and drive north for a day trip to the magnificent Shiwa Ng'andu country estate . Take a guided tour through this colonial brick mansion, which was once the home of British aristocrat Sir Stewart Gore-Brown, who is thought to have been a bit of an eccentric. Shiwa Ng'andu feels like a place trapped in time, and today the grandchildren of Gore-Brown manage the estate. Guided tours costs about US$20.

Where: Shiwa Ng'andu, Zambia

Tip: About 20km from Shiwa house are the Kapishya Hot Springs, well worth the drive for a soak in the palm-fringed blue-green pools.

4. Copperbelt Museum (Ndola)

If you find yourself in the city of Ndola, north of Zambia, pop into the Copperbelt Museum. (While there's not much sightseeing to be had, Ndola is neat as a pin compared to sprawling Lusaka.) The museum is small but interesting, telling you more about Zambia's copper mining history. It shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to explore and the gift shop is packed with souvenirs.

Where: Buteko Avenue, Ndola, Zambia

Tip: Near the Copperbelt Museum, on Makoli Avenue, is the Mupapa Slave Tree , where Swahili slave-traders used to meet. Definite must-see!

5. Nsalu Cave, near Mpika, Zambia

It's a bit of a drive, but if you're visiting Shiwa Ng'andu, stop off to see the rock paintings in Nsalu Cave. Protected by Zambia's Heritage Department, this prehistoric art was vandalised in the past but has been restored. The paintings may be more than 20,000 years old, and what makes them interesting is that the San people who drew them gave the usual stick men and buck species a skip, in favour of fascinating patterns of waving lines – making historians believe that the cave may have some kind of historical significance. Entry fee to the museum is US$15.

Where: Between Serenje and Mpika, about 60km north of Serenje

Tip: If you have to choose between seeing the rock paintings in Nachikufu Cave or Nsalu, Nsalu are the better option as the paintings at Nachikufu are not as well preserved. If you're looking for accommodation in Zambia, Sun International's Royal Livingstone and Zambezi Sun hotels offer the best and warmest in Zambian hospitality, giving you the freedom to explore Zambia's monuments and heritage sites. Ask at the Activity Desk what day trips and excursions are available, and make the most of your Zambia stay.

Did you know?
Kalambo Falls in Zambia is actually one of the most important archaeological finds in southern Africa. Not only is it double the height of Victoria Falls, but 300,000-year-old tools dating back to the Stone Age and early Iron Age have been found there.