As the only home of black rhinos in Zambia, the North Luangwa National Park will captivate visitors with one of the most remarkable wildlife excursions in Africa. More than 4 600 square kilometres of pure wilderness lies within its borders.
The park is wedged between the imposing Muchinga escarpment in the east and the Luangwa River in the west. Cutting through the middle is the Mwaleshi River which is the lifeline of the area’s wild and wonderful creatures. Inviting pools are created by a couple of modest waterfalls that provide liquid relief for those who seek it.
The landscape is dotted by a handful of different vegetation types, including mopane woodlands, acacia thickets, open grasslands and riverine forest areas. A plethora of animal and bird species seek respite from the heat in the shade of ivory palms, sausage trees, leadwood, and red mahoganies.
After arriving at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, travellers can make their way to North Luangwa National Park with domestic flights to the airport at Mfuwe. It is possible to drive to the park and enter at the Mano gate in the north but it is advisable to do it in a convoy of at least two 4WD vehicles.
Safari-goers are only able to access the park between June and October as all facilities are shut down during the rest of the year due to the extremely wet season.
Visitors to the park will be delighted by awesome sightings of the Big Five, including black rhinos that were re-introduced in 2003.
Safari-goers to North Luangwa National Park will be thrilled by sightings of a rich diversity of species, those who are earth-bound and also the feathered kind. The endangered black rhino, buffalo herds—a thousand individuals strong—and powerful lion prides are regularly spotted. Rare species endemic to the Luangwa Valley, like Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra, as well as the more regular customers like other antelopes and elephants are also residents of the park.
Over 400 avian species take to the park’s sky - giant eagle owl, Pel’s fishing owl, Lillian’s lovebird and purple crested loerie. The park is also frequented by birds like the chestnut-mantled sparrow weaver, the white-winged starling and the yellow-throated longclaw that don’t normally fly further south.
The best, and only, time to visit North Luangwa National Park is during the dry season from June to October when hoards of animals gather around the available water sources. No safaris take place the rest of the year when heavy rains make the roads impassable.
Unlike most other parks in Zambia where guided game drives are offered to visitors, in North Luangwa National Park walking safaris are at the order of the day as few established roads exist in the area. Exploring the park on foot with experienced guides and alongside the Mwaleshi River brings with it opportunities for fishing and swimming. In certain places where game drives are possible, these include venturing out at night.
Options for overnight accommodation in North Luangwa National Park is limited with only three camps, all situated on the banks of the Mwaleshi River which makes for excellent game viewing.