In Africa, there are few places that combine nature with enchanting Luangwa Woods and open, grassy Luangwa Plains. In South Luangwa National Park, this beautiful environment draws you in from every angle as you drive or walk around. Undoubtedly, the Luangwa River is stunning! But the wildlife-viewing possibilities is equally impressive. With an abundance of untamed wildlife and untainted vegetation, this park is a must-see.
Its western and northwestern edges are bounded by the Muchinga Escarpment, while the southern border is lined with the meandering Luangwa River. Because of its dramatic topography, this game-rich park is a must-visit.
What is the South Luangwa National Park?
The South Luangwa National Park is known as one of the most secluded and wildlife-rich parks in all of Africa. In Zambia, it covers an area of over 9,050km². The park is home to an array of wildlife species, including 60 different mammals and 420 bird species. It’s also a paradise for those passionate about photography safaris. Experienced guides are available to take you on a safari and offer excellent insights into the behaviour and ecology of the animals you encounter.
Whether you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast or this is your first time visiting an African national park, the South Luangwa National Park has something to offer everyone. With a wide range of accommodation options and activities on offer, visitors can tailor their experience to match their own interests and abilities. So if you’re looking for an amazing safari destination that offers plenty of peace and solitude, be sure to put the South Luangwa National Park at the top of your list!
Where is South Luangwa National Park located?
South Luangwa National Park is in the east portion of Zambia. It is in the Luangwa River valley. The closest village Mfuwe which is 700 km from the capital Lusaka.
How to Get South Luangwa National Park.
The most popular way to reach the South Luangwa National Park is by air.
International travellers will arrive at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. From here, you will catch a connecting flight to Mfuwe Airport. It is a brief journey, about a 70-minute flight. Your lodge will have a vehicle and driver that will take you to the park.
If you’re looking to take public transport, because you’re the more adventures type! There are buses that travel between Lusaka and Chipata. Which is close to the park. From there, it’s only about a 10-minute walk to the entrance gate.
History of South Luangwa Park
Norman Carr is credited with making the walking safari a popular form of travel. His vision was to make sure the local people benefited from conservation and tourism across the Luangwa Valley, which was a forward-thinking concept back then.
Carr’s legacy continues on in South Luangwa National Park, where he started the first safari camp in Africa to be built on a conservation model instead of a track and kill model. The Paramount Chief of Kunda agreed to set aside land as a reserve so that tourists could view wildlife without having to shoot it with rifles.
Eastern Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park was established as a national park in 1972. Before that, the park was a protected wildlife reserve for nearly 65 years, thus it was never harmed by uncontrolled mass tourists, preserving its natural environment.
Today, South Luangwa is a thriving habitat for wildlife and continues to be one of Zambia’s most popular tourist destinations.
What are the best times to visit the South Luangwa National Park?
There is no wrong time to visit the South Luangwa National Park, as it offers unique attractions and experiences during each season. Looking to get the most out of your safari? Some seasons may be better than others.
The rain typically stops in April, though some lodges are closed during this time. Low tourist season is between May and October. A good time for the budget-conscious. Less expensive than the high season.
Game viewing in the South Luangwa National Park can be best during dry season, when water is limited and animals congregate around the river and waterholes inside the park. Our suggestion on the best time to visit the South Luangwa National Park is November or December, when heavy rain has not yet arrived. The light rain throughout the year provides an opportunity for visitors to see animals in their natural habitat. Wildlife is more active during these months since they are not pressured by thirst or heat.
However, it’s important to remember that while game viewing may be optimal at these times, other activities – such as boat safaris or walking safaris – may not be available because of flooding. There is a high risk of buffalo trapping themselves in mudholes during the wet season (December-March ).
Safari Activities At South Luangwa National Park?
South Luangwa National Park is an awesome place for a photo safari. There are plenty of activities available. A walking safari is one of the most popular activities Rangers will get you up close for a personal encounter with the wildlife. Professional guides provide learning opportunities on animal behaviour and its habitat.
Another significant activity is game-viewing. You will probably encounter four out of the big five of Africa present in the park. The best part is that you can go explore the bushes with a ranger. You can also spot multiple herds of elephants here.
Feeling adventures? Night safaris are available where you will see the spotted hyena, genet, and porcupine. Finally, no trip to South Luangwa would be complete without spotting leopards! This is essential since they are frequently seen in the park.
Any Restrictions In The South Luangwa National Park?
The South Luangwa National Park has restrictions on what you can and cannot do. For example, you cannot bring firearms into the park. For the safety of tourists and wildlife.
You can also help keep the park clean by not littering. Littering can harm the wildlife and environment in the park, so please be sure to dispose of your trash properly.
Finally, remember to respect the rules and regulations of the park while you’re visiting. Failure to do so may result in you being asked to leave.
Wildlife Sightings on a Zambia Safaris Trip?
The South Luangwa National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, many of which can be found nowhere else in Africa.
If you’re lucky, you may also see some rarer animals such as cheetahs and wild dogs. The wildlife in South Luangwa is as diverse as it is beautiful, so plan plenty of time to explore and photograph the park!
South Luangwa National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including 60 mammal species, 14 species of antelope, and 400 birds. Also in the park is The Big Five of Africa: rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and lions.
The park is also home to a wide variety of antelopes, including impalas and pukusus.
This park is especially well-known as a birding destination. Some of the more notable bird sightings include the Lilac-breasted roller, Pel’s fishing owl, and African skimmer. Besides its impressive diversity of birds, South Luangwa is also home to a vast number of raptors. Four vulnerable or endangered vulture species can be found here: white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, lappet-faced vulture, and Cape Griffon vulture.
The Southern carmine bee-eater is near threatened and nests along the banks of the river in South Luangwa National Park.
Tips for Your Visit
Even while South Luangwa camps often take care of all your requirements, it might be enjoyable and practical to carry some of your own equipment. We always pack the following goods before we leave:
- Binoculars (to observe wildlife from your personal deck at any time and from other locations);
- Obviously, a camera, and telephoto lens;
- cheap waterproof watch (leave your pricey jewellery at home);
- Lip balm and sunblock;
- a flashlight;
- anti-insect spray;
- Water bottles are frequently provided at camps, however you can also bring your own;
- Adaptor (three pin square British style plugs is used in Zambia).
Accommodation Options in South Luangwa National Park?
The South Luangwa National Park offers a range of accommodation options for visitors. You can choose to stay in a rustic bush camp, or if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, there are also options available like the Chinzombo Safari Lodge. No matter what your preference is, there’s sure to be an option that matches your needs and budget.
One great thing about the park is that they have a specialist who will help you find an option that best suits your preferences. If you’re not sure where to start, they can point you in the right direction and make suggestions based on your interests. The Time + Tide Bush Camp has been recently rebuilt and redesigned, and it now accommodates a maximum of 12 people per night. It’s definitely one of the more rustic options in the park, but it’s still known for its wildlife sightings – so you won’t want to miss out!
Kaingo Safari Camp
Kaingo Camp is in South Luangwa National Park. The lodge has a warm, cozy vibe and is set close to the river.
Kaingo Camp offers walking safaris and game drives. Kaingo Camp is rustic but comfortable, with stilts providing great views of the valley.
Flatdogs Camp is a great place to stay while exploring the South Luangwa National Park. This camp offers economical rates, and with over 20 years of touring experience, the manager is one of the most experienced in the area. You’ll enjoy cool vibes and an amazing view while you’re here!
Kafunta River Lodge
Kafunta River Lodge is on the edge of South Luangwa National Park, providing you with a perfect view of the Kafunta River. The lodge has all the essentials you need to come home and relax after an exciting day in the park. It’s open from April until early January, so it’s perfect for spring and fall trips!
Besides its great location, Kafunta River Lodge offers a classic safari experience, complete with everything you need to feel at ease. The lodge is also close to Chindeni Camp, which has its own cultural and religious festivals celebrated throughout August and September. If that’s not enough for you, try Chikoko Trials a 15-kilometre hike through Zambia’s Luangwa National Park in October.
If you’re looking for a rustic and charming safari camp in Zambia, look no further than Tafika Camp! This owner-run camp is ideal for anyone who wants to experience a more traditional safari.
Camp owners who are welcoming and passionate about their environment are rare these days. But at Tafika Camp, you’ll find one of the best bush camps in South Luangwa. With walking safaris and excellent service for that unforgettable experience!
The package price includes accommodations, transfers and all meals. So why wait? Book your stay at Tafika Camp today!
For a relaxing and beautiful safari experience, Nkwali Camp is the perfect place for you! With its luxurious lodge-style accommodations and magnificent views. Nkwali offers an air of simplicity that will tempt travellers to return year after year.
Camp sites are scattered throughout, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. And if you’re looking for something a little more exclusive, they offer “open air” accommodations that will make your safari experience feel wild!
The Luangwa River is in the heart of South Luangwa National Park. One of Africa’s most renowned wildlife areas. So whether you’re taking a walk on one of their nature trails or going on a game drive, you will see some amazing wildlife!
Chichele Presidential Lodge
Chichele Presidential Lodge is a grand colonial style lodge that is in the heart of South Luangwa National Park. The Lodge offers a safari experience that connects the body, mind, and spirit. Guests can see wild dogs and leopards during their stay at the lodge. As they live close by.
BushCamp Company Lodges
The Bushcamp Company offers seven individual lodges in the South Luangwa National Park. Kapamba Bushcamp is a lodge that offers comfort and style. It has more structure than other lodges in the area, with a lounge, dining room, bar, plunge pool, and fire pit. A few of the Bushcamp company lodges have been around for years. They’re tried and true!
Some Lodges offer catered food and game drives, while others offer a camping option or wildlife viewing. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s likely to be a Bushcamp Company Lodge that will fit your needs!
Nsolo Bush Camp
Nsolo Bush Camp is a rustic camp in the Park. It offers a luxurious bush experience, with all the amenities that you would expect from a top-notch safari camp.
Here you will see the elusive honey badgers, wild dogs and leopards. In addition, Nsolo has been awarded with the Norman Carr label for excellent service in the bush!
Luangwa Safari House
The Luangwa Safari House is a safari resort where guests can enjoy the nature and wildlife of Africa. It is known for its diverse landscape and beautiful wildlife. The house has blended with its surroundings, and it offers stunning views of the river and park.
Perfect for families or large groups as it can house eighteen people. The lodge offers a range of activities, including game drives, walks, boat trips, and fishing.
Mchenja Bush Camp
Mchenja Bush Camp is close to the river and provides access to some of the best wildlife viewing in the area. Elephants and hippos are often seen coming down to drink from the river.
The camp itself is very comfortable, with luxurious lodgings and delicious meals. There is also plenty to do here, with regular game, nature drives and guided walks. And if you’re lucky, you may even get to see the wild dog packs at Tena Tena!
Overall, Mchenja Bush Camp provides a great safari experience at an affordable price. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting African adventure.
Robin’s House is a small, private guesthouse in the beautiful and serene South Luangwa National Park. It offers peace and quiet. Perfect for those who want to get away. The Luangwa Safari House is also perfect for large groups or families; it can accommodate up to sixteen. The Kafunta River provides guests with ample opportunity to see an array of wildlife.
Three Rivers Camp
If you’re looking for an unforgettable safari experience, look no further than the Three Rivers Bush Camp. This lodge style camp offers luxurious accommodations and delicious meals to rejuvenate the body and awaken the soul With an incredible view of hippos, elephants, and other animals walking on the river bed. Three Rivers Bush Camp is sure to leave a lasting impression. If you’re looking for an amazing safari adventure, be sure to check out Three Rivers Bush Camp!
Bob Wild is a professional photographer and the former owner of African Photo Safari, having led guided photo safaris to numerous destinations including Namibia in western Africa. He owns Who Said Photography and continues to help introduce newcomers to the joys of photography.