South Luangwa National Park
Experts have called the South Luangwa one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and with good reason: few parks can match this phenomenally high game density. What’s more, three quarters of this wild and remote 9050 sq km park is still largely unexplored.
Superb Big Game Viewing
The concentration of game around the Luangwa River and its ox bow lagoons is amongst the most intense in Africa. All the big predators are there, as well as four of the Big 5 (the notable exception being the rhino, which was sadly poached to extinction).
That said, this is not really a destination for those wanting to check big game off a list. Guides aren’t allowed radio contact in the park – the great advantage of this being that if you come across a lion kill your group can watch without the message going out, and other vehicles descending on your find.
Home of the Walking Safaris
Sitting in the back of an open Land Rover near a large bull elephant is exhilarating, but on foot the bush comes alive in a way that you just can’t appreciate from a vehicle.
The South Luangwa has become famous as the home of walking safaris. Although other parks have now caught up, the South Luangwa stands out as the best reserve to see big game on foot: elephant, hippo or even lion (note that you’ll be in safe hands, with professional armed guides who are trained to deal with any eventuality).
For the more adventurous we’d recommend an overnight walking safari, or you could just opt for a guided walk in the morning then an afternoon game drive. If you’re interested in wildlife photography, a number of the South Luangwa lodges have photographic hides – where you can take your time, and get those perfect shots.
Exceptional Guiding + Remote Bushcamps
The South Luangwa is well known for extremely high standard of guiding. Many of the guides grew up in the area, and have been guiding for 10 to 20 years. Not only will they ensure you see all that the valley has to offer in terms of birds, wildlife and varied vegetation, but they are equally comfortable talking about community projects.
In addition to exceptional guiding, this is one of the few safari destinations where you can find true African bushcamps in remote wilderness areas. The word bushcamp is quite misleading though, because while you’re far from any other sign of civilisation, you won’t be expected to give up any of your creature comforts.
The Different Seasons
Plan your visit carefully: seasonal changes are very pronounced in the Luangwa Valley. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month, when game concentrations around water sources are at their height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August.
The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green and the dry terrain becomes a lush, dense tangle of vegetation. The rainy season, also known as the ’emerald season’ lasts until the end of March and migrant birds arrive in droves. Do note, however, that some of the bushcamps close during this time.