south luangwa national park

South Luangwa National Park Travel Plan

Consultants have dubbed South Luangwa National Park to be one of many best wildlife sanctuaries on the earth, and never without cause. The focus of animals across the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the many most intense in Africa.

South Luangwa National Park: About

Established as a National Park in 1972, South Luangwa National Park is positioned in eastern Zambia, on the tail finish of Africa’s Nice Rift Valley.

Well-known for its strolling safaris, the 9,059-square-kilometer nature space is sustained by the Luangwa River, which winds its means by way of the center of the park leaving a spectacular escarpment and a wealth of lagoons and ox-bow lakes in its wake.

The Luangwa River is essentially the most intact main river system in Africa and is the life-blood of this 9059 km2 Park. The Park hosts all kinds of wildlife, birds, and vegetation.

The now well-known ‘strolling safari’ originated on this Park and continues to be one of many most interesting methods to expertise Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand.

The altering seasons add to the Park’s richness, starting from; dry, naked bushveld within the winter, to a lush, inexperienced wonderland in the summertime months.

There are 60 completely different animal species and over 400 completely different chicken species in South Luangwa National Park. The one notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.

With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds showing within the Park, together with 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there are loads for the birdwatcher to identify, regardless of the season.

Curiosity within the vegetation of Zambia will improve your expertise in the bush. Some magnificent timber and crops develop within the Luangwa Valley and it definitely provides to the richness of 1’s expertise to have the ability to acknowledge the completely different tree species and to find unique wildflowers.

Among the many extra widespread trees within the valley are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, the tall vegetable ivory palm, the marula, and the magnificent tamarind tree. They are some magnificent baobab specimens and some massive ebony forests to admire.

South Luangwa National Park: at a glance

Space: 9,050km²
Based in: 1972
Province: Northern, Eastern, and Central Zambia
Coordinates: -13.09553,31.497803

This lush panorama helps one of many best concentrations of wildlife in Africa, and as such South Luangwa National Park has to turn out to be the safari vacation spot of alternative for these within the know.

Wildlife of South Luangwa

South Luangwa National Park is residence to 60 mammal species, together with 4 of the Large 5 (sadly, rhino had been poached to extinction right here over 20 years in the past).

It’s particularly well-known for its massive herds of elephant and buffalo, and for the ample hippo, inhabitants dwelling in its lagoons.

The lion is additionally comparatively widespread, and South Luangwa is usually cited as among the finest locations in Southern Africa to identify the elusive leopard.

There may be extra to South Luangwa than these safari icons, nevertheless. It is usually residence to the endangered African wild canine, 14 species of antelope, and endemic subspecies together with the Thornicroft’s giraffe and Crawshay’s zebra.

Seasonal modifications are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies by way of to October, the most popular month when sport concentrations are at their peak. Heat sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of Could to August.

The moist season begins in November because the leaves flip inexperienced, and the dry bleak terrain turns into a lush jungle.

The wet season lasts up till the top of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Every lodge stays open for so long as the entry is feasible, relying on its location within the space.

There are a number of lodges that stay open all yr within the central space of the park.

And lately, bushcamps are actually opening within the “Emerald Season”.

How to gi to South Luangwa National Park

By Air

Mfuwe Airport lately achieved worldwide standing and numerous airways had been taking a look at scheduled flights from overseas.

Proflight Zambia is the one airline flying scheduled home flights in Zambia. They fly each day to South Luangwa and Livingstone from Lusaka all yr (frequencies enhance in excessive season).

Constitution planes from outdoors the nation can now fly direct without clearing customs at Lusaka and there are a variety of constitution corporations in Zambia, that may fly to and from Zambia’s prime locations.

All lodges do transfers to and from the airport. Constitution planes at seat fee – Government Air and Nyasa Air Taxis.

By Car

One can method from three instructions. The standard route is from Chipata. It is a good street if slightly corrugated and the 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, simply outdoors the Park.

If traveling in a strong 4×Four from Lusaka, it’s doable to take a brief to reduce from the Nice East Highway at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. Solely to be tried nicely into the dry season.

A very good in a single day cease alongside the way in which is on the Luangwa River Bridge at Bridge Camp.

The Northern entry is from Mpika on the Nice North Highway or Lundazi, close to Zambia’s jap border with Malawi. Slightly below Mpika, there’s a street operating down the Munyamadzi Hall between North and South Luangwa Parks.

It’s satisfactory however is just open between August and October and solely in 4WD and ideally with two autos as assistance is a great distance away.

The mountain move down the escarpment is sort of formidable, very rocky and bumpy however the view over this, the tail finish of the Nice Rift Valley, is sort of spectacular.

In the event you’re staying at one of many Valley’s lodges, the guides will guarantee you’ve gotten each alternative to see all that the valley has to supply of its wildlife, birds, and ranging vegetation and habitats.

Driving Tips

In the event you’re in your individual automobile, remember to get a map of the Park from the Crocodile Farm on the Park entrance and observe the loop roads graded within the Park, previous dambos bursting with hippos, topped cranes, grazing antelope, and scurrying baboons.

Additional out on the plains you’re sure to see the massive elephant herds, reaching as much as 70 in quantity. Buffalo are ample and unfold all through the Valley.

Birding in South Luangwa

The park can be particularly well-known as a birding vacation spot. Over 400 avian species (greater than half of these recorded in Zambia) have been noticed inside its boundaries.

In addition to the standard birds of Southern and East Africa, the park gives a resting place for seasonal migrants from as far afield as Europe and Asia.

Highlights embrace the near-threatened African skimmer; the extremely elusive Pel’s fishing owl and the good flocks of ruby-colored Southern carmine bee-eaters that nest within the park’s sandy river banks.

South Luangwa can be residence to no fewer than 39 raptor species, together with 4 species of susceptible or endangered vulture.

Activities within the South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is taken into account the birthplace of the strolling safari, which was first launched by iconic safari operators like Norman Carr and Robin Pope.

Now, practically every lodge and camp within the park gives this unbelievable expertise, which lets you stand up near the animals of the bush in a means that merely is not doable in an automobile.

Touring by way of the valley’s lush landscapes on foot additionally means that you’ve time to cease and respect the smaller issues – from unique bugs to animal tracks and uncommon flora.

Strolling safaris can final anyplace from a number of hours to a number of days, and are all the time accompanied by an armed scout and professional information.

Conventional sport drives are additionally fashionable, and all guests ought to e-book a minimum of one night time drive. After darkish, a very completely different set of nocturnal animals comes out to play, starting from cute bushbabies to the undisputed king of the night time, the leopard.

Specialist birding itineraries are fashionable within the inexperienced season (from November to February) when the abundance of bugs introduced out by the summer season rains attracts lots of Palearctic migrant species.

Summertime can be prime time for boat safaris – a splendidly tranquil approach to observe the chicken and wildlife that congregates on the water to drink and to observe hippos and crocodiles profiting from the excessive water stage.

south luangwa national park


The hippopotamus is one animal you won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are normally between 30 and 70 hippos lounging within the river under and a lot of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There may be estimated to be about 50 hippos per kilometer of the Luangwa River!


Zebra will be seen operating in small herds of a couple of dozen. The distinction between Zambia’s zebras and people within the south and east of Africa is within the stripes. Right here they’re evenly spaced versus broad mild stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between.


The Park has 14 completely different antelope species, most of that is simply seen on sport and night time drives. Be careful with the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely lined areas.

The widespread duiker shouldn’t be that widespread close to the Luangwa River, however, inhabits the again nation of the Luangwa Valley.

The biggest of the antelope is the eland, normally close to the Nsefu Sector of the Park. Essentially the most quite a few antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals will be seen in herds everywhere in the Park.

To not be confused with the puku, of comparable dimension however a lot fluffier buck with a wealthy orange coat and likewise prolific.


Maybe essentially the most stunning is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and a delicate face. Though pretty widespread, they’re not all the time straightforward to seek out attributable to their retiring habits and choice for the dense bush.

Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer, and oribi are all right here however not prolific within the central vacationer space of the Park. They have a tendency to remain deeper within the distant elements in the direction of the Muchinga escarpment.

Birdwatching is excellent within the Valley. Close to the top of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons start to recede, lots of enormous waterbirds will be seen wading by way of the shallows.

The purple confronted yellow-billed storks transfer together with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their ft till the fish flop into their mouths.

The pelicans are inclined to function in strains abreast, driving the fish earlier than them into shallows earlier than scooping them up into their beak pouches.

The hanging 1.6m saddle invoice stork makes fast darting actions into the water. Then there’s the marabou stork, nice white egrets, black-headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that may stand in the identical place for hours earlier than pouncing.

Of essentially the most stunning is the elegantly topped cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in massive flocks on the salt pans.

Across the identical time, simply earlier than the rains set in, in November, the Palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to use the feeding alternatives that the nice and cozy wet season brings.

These embrace the purple chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows, swifts, hobbies, and bee-eaters, in addition to birds of prey such because the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way in which from Russia.

A particular sight is the lots of brightly colored carmine bee-eaters nesting within the steep sandy banks of the river.

The ever-present sounds of the birds within the Valley takes some getting used to. An early caller is the bottom hornbill, trying like a well-dressed turkey, however, emitting the sound of a deep bass drum.

Additionally to be heard is the melodious Heuglin’s robin, the shrill cry of the fish eagle, set to the background cooing of doves.

Places to stay at South Luangwa National Park

No matter your choice or funds, guests to South Luangwa National Park are spoiled for an alternative when it comes to lodging.

Most lodges and camps are positioned alongside the sides of the Luangwa River, providing spectacular views of the water (and the animals that come there to drink).

A number of the greatest camps embrace these run by South Luangwa pioneers Robin Pope Safaris and Norman Carr Safaris.

The previous firm has six luxurious lodging choices in or close to the park, together with magnificent tented camp Tena Tena and personal Luangwa Safari Home.

The jewel in Norman Carr’s portfolio is Chinzombo, an extremely luxurious camp with six villas and an infinity pool overlooking the river.

Flatdogs Camp (with its superbly appointed chalets, safari tents, and unique Jackalberry Treehouse) is a well-liked alternative for these in the hunt for one thing slightly extra inexpensive.

These on a good funds ought to take into account a keep at Marula Lodge, a backpacker-friendly lodging choice positioned 5 minutes from the park’s essential gate.

Room decisions vary from everlasting tents and a shared dormitory to inexpensive ensuite chalets, whereas the elective full board fee contains all meals and two safaris on each full day for a really cheap price.

Alternatively, it can save you cash by profiting from the self-catering kitchen as an alternative.

When to Go to South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is a year-round vacation spot with professionals and cons for each season. Typically, the dry winter months (Could to October) are thought of the perfect time for game-viewing, as a result of animals congregate on the river and waterholes and are subsequently simpler to identify.

Daytime temperatures are cooler and extra nice for strolling safaris; whereas bugs are at a minimal. Nonetheless, the new summer season (November to April) additionally has loads of advantages for people who do not thoughts excessive temperatures and the occasional afternoon downpour. Birdlife is healthier presently of yr, the park’s surroundings are breathtakingly inexperienced and costs are sometimes cheaper.

Malaria is a threat all year long, however particularly in the summer season. Make sure that to take precautions to keep away from the illness, together with taking anti-malaria prophylactics.

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