The relentless Kalungwishi River coils its way through the Lusenga Plain National Park, dominating over the surrounding evergreen forest and reed-lined swamps of this forgotten region. This largely unheard of National Park is located in northern Zambia and is 800 square kilometres in size. The park has recently undergone a revamp, and conservation efforts are underway to restore Lusenga to its former glory.
The natural scenery of this heavy rainfall region is spectacular. The Kalungwishi River flows powerfully into Lumangwe Falls, one of Zambia’s highest and second-most visited waterfalls aside from Victoria Falls. In terms of game viewing, visitors can see plains game such as impala, kudu, zebra, buffalo and sable around the Miombo woodland sector.
Lusenga Plain National Park forms part of the northern safari circuit of Zambia. International safari-goers can fly into Lusaka and catch a connecting flight to Kawambwa, where most of the accommodation options are located. The closest domestic airport is Kawambwa Airstrip.
150 to 200 elephants were recently introduced into the National Park, adding to the numbers of big game in this zone. There is an ample supply of water from various sources in the park, which attracts the buffalo and elephant herds.
Impala, kudu, zebra, duiker, eland, reedbuck, roan and sable make up most of the mammal sightings in Lusenga. Throughout the National Park, there are a few sparse populations of the yellow baboon, vervet and blue monkeys.
Birding is always interesting in areas with copious amounts of water—they provide the perfect habitat for a variety of rare water-birds. The Miomba woodlands are home to hornbills, Whyte’s barbet and dense populations of violet-backed sunbirds. Lady Ross’s turaco, half-collared kingfisher, Cassin’s grey flycatcher and the Red-and -blue sunbird.
Lusenga Plain National Park is a relatively hot and humid destination with a typical tropical climate. The dry season is the best time of year to visit the northern reaches of Zambia. The dry season is from June to November.
Zambia is quite a high rainfall region. The start of the year is best to avoid when it comes to safaris—the landscape floods and is completely unnavigable.
Lusenga is the perfect place for bird-lovers and nature explorers. The park is completely off the tourist route and is the perfect place for an all-round wilderness experience. A visit to Lumangwe Waterfalls should not be missed. Aside from the incredible sheets of water plummeting into oblivion, there is also ample opportunity to spot abundant rainforest mammals.
Lusenga is mainly a self-drive destination, accessed via a network of roads signposted from the main town of Kawambwa. Adventurous safari-goers are encouraged to head to the banks of the river or the many lagoons to enjoy a picnic while observing wildlife and birdlife. Visitors can bush camp anywhere within the park, but need to be completely self-sufficient and require a permit.
For visitors seeking a less adventurous safari, guided trips into the park can be arranged with locals who have on-the-ground knowledge. Lusenga offers its visitors the perfect wilderness experience that most safari-goers ignore in favour of the more touristy sectors.
There is no accommodation in the park, but visitor facilities are being built to accommodate self-drivers and campers. Camping is possible in this remote area, but visitors will need to bring everything. In the main town of Kawambwa, there are several lodges and villa guest houses geared towards tourism.