South Luangwa National Park is a wildlife sanctuary like no other and one that captivates safari-goers time and time again. With an elevated escarpment in the west and the mighty Luangwa River in the east, this natural paradise stretches over 9 000 square kilometres of the Zambian landscape.
Patches of grassland are prevalent within the woodland savannah in the Luangwa Valley that is sustained by the Luangwa River. This impressive body of water snakes its way through the bush with overgrown vegetation on its banks. Gigantic Natal and red mahoganies, African ebony’s and even baobabs stand strikingly tall in the landscape.
The park is undoubtedly the crowning glory of all the national parks in Zambia. Some of the highest concentrations of wildlife anywhere on the African continent can be found in and around the Luangwa River and its lagoons. No wonder it is the preferred choice of safari-goers intend on experiencing an unrivalled walking safari.
South Luangwa National Park is easily accessible after arriving in the capital of Zambia, Lusaka. Visitors can either self-drive in a 4WD vehicle or take a flight to the Mfuwe Airport which is the park’s main access point.
The best time for safari-goers to experience abundant wildlife viewing in South Luangwa National Park is during the dry months from July to November. Operations come to a halt in the wet season between December and March.
Overnight facilities in South Luangwa National Park range from tented camps with open-air facilities to luxury establishments with individual plunge pools.
South Luangwa National Park carries its status as a wildlife wonderland with pride. It is a repeat destination for many of its first-time visitors that simply cannot get their fill of the abundant inhabitants of this piece of paradise. More than 60 mammal species traverse the park’s landscape with the world’s highest naturally occurring population of leopard among them.
Other predators include prides of lion and even packs of wild dogs. Big herds of elephants, buffalo and hippo mill in and around the water while 14 different antelope species also calling the park home. The park is a dream destination for bird watchers with some 400 species crisscrossing the sky, dominated by 39 different birds of prey. Carmine bee-eaters, weavers and kingfishers are a dime a dozen along the Luangwa riverbanks.
As with most wilderness areas in Zambia, almost all lodges and camps in the South Luangwa National Park close during the wet season between December and March. In April and May, the rain becomes less frequent and the bush turns to many shades of green. The best time for safari-goers to experience abundant wildlife viewing is from July to November when it is drier and the vegetation is less dense. It does get very hot with temperatures ranging from the high 20’s to almost 40 degrees Celsius during the day.
South Luangwa National Park can rightly claim to be the original birthplace of the walking safari and travellers from around the globe have such an experience on their bucket list. Discovering and exploring this wildlife haven on foot will bring memories to last a lifetime. It goes without saying that the game drives in the park are also without comparison. Mountain biking is possible in the Tafika region while excellent birding can also be ticked off the must-do list.
There is a wide variety of accommodation options in South Luangwa National Park that will satisfy even the most discerning visitor. No matter where safari-goers choose to relax, they will be rewarded with spectacular views. Tented camps are situated in the most remote corners of the park, complete with open-air facilities. Should more comfortable lodgings be preferred, there are luxury establishments with individual plunge pools.