Experts have dubbed South Luangwa to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the most intense in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life-blood of this 9059 km2 Park. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this Park and is still one of the finest ways to experience Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand. The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness, ranging from; dry, bare bushveld in the winter, to a lush, green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species in South Luangwa National Park. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.
With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Park, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.
An interest in the vegetation of Zambia will enhance your experience of the bush. Some magnificent trees and plants grow in the Luangwa Valley and it certainly adds to the richness of one’s experience to be able to recognize the different tree species and to discover exotic wildflowers.
Among the more common trees in the valley are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, the tall vegetable ivory palm, the marula and the magnificent tamarind tree. The are some magnificent baobab specimens and a few large ebony forests to admire.
PARTNERS & LODGES
Game Drives & Night Drives
If you’re staying at one of the Valley’s lodges, the guides will ensure you have every opportunity to see all that the valley has to offer of its wildlife, birds and varying vegetation and habitats. Morning drives usually start before sunrise, allowing you to take in the best of the morning game-viewing. The afternoon drives often continue after dark to try and spot some of the Park’s night-time inhabitants.
Mobile Walking Safaris
You will be accompanied by a guide as you walk from one overnight camp to another deep in the heart of the park, along the river banks, exploring areas where there are no roads so you are unlikely to see anything but wildlife. . This park is one of the best known for these types of safaris.
There is a vast array of birds in the park. A birding safari is usually accompanied by an ornithologist or an expert birding guide. Bird lovers appreciate the time to listen to bird song, twitters, and calls, while still enjoying the opportunity of seeing large game.
The South Luangwa River offers a spectacle of wildlife to view safely from the comfort of your boat. The Luangwa River is best navigated in the rainy season when it is fuller. The scenery is lush and verdant and hippos and crocodiles are everywhere, elephants will be common too but most of the other animals will not need to come to the river in the wet season so th focus will be on the experience itself more than game viewing but most operators combine boating and walks.
COMMUNITY & CONSERVATION PROJECTS
Just outside of the Park is Kawaza village, home to the Kunda tribe. Here you will be able to experience the culture of the local people as well as the opportunity to stay in a simple African thatched hut. The village was the winner of the prestigious British Guild of Travel Writers’ Silver Otter Award for the “Best Overseas Tourism Project.”
Project Luangwa is a charitable organisation formed by the Safari Operators of South Luangwa as a part of their commitment to responsible tourism. Their aim is to create an effective, coordinated approach to helping local communities improve their long term economic prospects whilst avoiding a negative impact on the environment and wildlife.
Their mission is to work with community and conservation partners in the protection of the wildlife and habitats of the South Luangwa ecosystem. This will encourage the long term survival of wildlife and habitats in South Luangwa under the custodianship of the Zambian people.
Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust
This trust teaches Zambian children the value of wildlife and their environment so they can be conserved for present and future generations.