Situated on the southern corner of the Kafue Flats in the Zambezi River basin is Zambia’s Lochinvar National Park, a stronghold for the endemic Kafue lechwe. Lochinvar is a World Heritage wetland site, home to the famous Chunga lagoon, a sanctuary for birdlife. Lochinvar’s claim to fame is that it’s a sought-after birding destination – all water birds located in central and southern Africa are located here.
Spanning 428 square kilometres of swampy terrain in the north and low-lying woodland cloaked hills in the south, Lochinvar is a scenic wilderness destination.
In conjunction with predominantly wetland terrain, Lochinvar also has grassy floodplains and termite mound zones supporting populations of oribi, wildebeest and zebra. Other star attractions of the park include caves, hot springs and historical remnants from ancient villages.
Lochinvar National Park is located just three hours outside of the capital city, Lusaka. Visitors generally fly into Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and self-drive to the park, or take guided day trips into the wetland region.
There are various hot springs in Lochinvar, echoing caves as well as remnants of Iron Age villages.
The gravel roads in Lochinvar are well-maintained and visitors to this 428 square kilometre wilderness area will be able to traverse the area with ease.
The major drawcard of the area is the rare and endemic Kafue lechwe. Up to 30,000 lechwe litter the waterlogged floodplains of the park during the wet season. Occasionally, visitors might spot the small yet shy amphibious sitatunga antelope, and pods of bellowing hippos. The termitaria zones in the park provide the perfect habitat for buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra, kudu and oribi. This tract of shrub and grass is ideal for grazers and browsers.
Inside the park, there are 428 species of bird and a huge concentration of aquatic birds. Lesser flamingos, pelicans, wattled cranes and storks flock to the shores of the Chunga lagoon, while the floodplains attract raptors and woodland birds.
There are rumoured to be over 50 raptors in Lochinvar National Park, including osprey, peregrine falcons and the African cuckoo hawk.
The best time to visit Lochinvar National Park for game viewing is from July to October during the dry season. This is when wildlife migrates to the shores of the Chunga lagoon, a reliable source of water.
December and January, the start of the rainy season, is the best time to see territorial displays from lechwe. This is also the time of year that’s perfect for birding safaris.
Safaris are centred around birdwatching and spotting general game. The lack of dangerous game means that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the authentic outdoor life. The patchwork landscape of varied habitats is best explored on foot, which is always a thrilling and educational experience. The terrain lends itself well to walking safaris. While out on foot, visitors can explore the remnants of ancient civilizations, spot rare birds and learn about terrestrial wildlife.
Another thrilling safari experience is to go fishing from a mokoro, which is a traditional dug-out canoe. Mokoro fishing trips help support the local community. Guided birding tours are a must. The region is one of the world’s most noteworthy birding destinations, and guided walks offer unique insight about the birds of the area.
There is no accommodation inside the national park, apart from rudimentary campsites. No pre-booking of campsites is required – visitors simply pay a fee and stay in one of the mapped-out areas. There are options for staying in a campsite with tents provided.