South Luangwa National ParkMap

The South Luangwa National Park is the Luangwa Valley's most accessible and popular park. It is 9050kmē and the concentration of game around the river is of the highest in Africa

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South Luangwa National Park

The South Luangwa National Park, in eastern Zambia, is the most accessible of the three in the valley of the Luangwa River. The Luangwa Valley, which marks the end of the Great Rift Valley, is one of the last unspoilt wilderness areas which makes it an ideal safari destination. The park was founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9,050 kmē.

The park slopes down from the Muchinga Escarpment, which forms the western boundary, to the Luangwa River. The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the Park. During winter the area is dry and scrubland. During the summer rains the area turns lush green. Between January and February, the Luangwa River floods and turns the area into a rich, productive, beautiful ecosystem.

Walking safaris were pioneered in the park and are still one of the best ways of experiencing the African wilderness. Without the hum of a 4x4 vehicle and at the same level as the animals, walking opens up new sounds and African bush smells. Besides the obvious thrill of encountering animals on foot, walking allows you to see tiny creatures, animal spoor and plant life that you would pass by in a safari vehicle.

The park has 60 species of animal and 400 different bird species. This is one of the premier wilderness areas in Africa, famed for its seclusion and natural beauty. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction in this park in 1987. The Park is well-known for its huge herds of elephant and buffalo, often hundreds of animals strong, along with its high population of leopard which are commonly seen on night drives. Specialities of the area include the beautiful Thornicroft's giraffe, Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra. The Luangwa Valley has one of the highest concentrations of hippos in Africa, estimated to be at least 50 per kilometre of river. The meandering Luangwa River also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles and it is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.

Safari Routes in South Luangwa National Park

See how this park can be incorporated in the safari. Our safari routes give some ideas of possible safari routes. The route map is an engaging and easy way get ideas for a safari. Example route:

Zambian educational to South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi: Brett Thomsom, of Sun Safaris, did this safari in March 2007. Read his report.

...more South Luangwa safari routes

Featured South Luangwa National Park safari lodge maps

Bilimungwe Camp map: Bilimingwe Bushcamp is a luxury bush trails camp set amongst magnificent Mahogany trees on the edge of a small plain.
Chamilandu Camp map: Chamilandu Camp is located in a remote part of the South Luangwa National Park on a large loop of the Luangwa River.
Chichele Presidential Lodge map: Chichele has ten Victorian-style lodges on the edge of the hillside and offers fantastic views across the animal-filled plains.
Chindeni Camp map: Chindeni Camp lies nestled on the apex of a permanent oxbow lagoon with a view of the magnificent Nchendeni Hills.
Chikoko Tree Camp map: Chikoko Tree Camp is situated 8km upstream of Tafika. As the name suggests the 3 twin chalets are raised above the ground, within the tree canopy.
Crocodile River Camp map: Crocodile River Camp has 3 chalets imaginatively constructed of thatch and natural materials -delightfully simple, perfectly comfortable
Kakuli Bushcamp map: Kakuli Bushcamp is one of four remote seasonal bush camps operated by Norman Carr Safaris out of their main camp, Kapani Safari Lodge.
Kalamu Camp map: Kalamu Tented Camp is situated in the Luamfwa Concession in the southern sector of the South Luangwa National Park.
Kapamba Camp map: Kapamba Camp is visited by abundant game that come to drink at the Kapamba River.
Kapani Lodge map: Kapani Lodge is an exclusive, beautiful, permanent lodge, situated on one of the many ox-bow lagoons in the South Luangwa area
Kuyenda Camp map: Kuyenda is situated on the banks of the Manzi River and has only four authentic thatched rondavels.
Luwi Camp map: Luwi Camp is a seasonal camp nestled under huge mahogany trees on the banks of a permanent lagoon.
Mchenja Bush Camp map: Mchenja Bushcamp is one of four remote seasonal bushcamps deep in South Luangwa National Park operated by Norman Carr.
Mfuwe Lodge map: Mfuwe Lodge is situated by an oxbow lagoon in the South Luangwa National Park, it and has a number of chalets surrounding the lagoon
Mwamba Bush Camp map: Mwamba bushcamp is situated on the banks of the Mwamba River. The camp enjoys excellent game viewing in a secluded wilderness.
Nkwali Camp map: Nkwali Camp is surrounded by open grassland and quiet ebony groves. The camp is situated on private land in Mfuwe, overlooking the South Luangwa National Park.
Palmgrove Bush Camp map: Palmgrove Bush Camping is in a wild a remote area away from the main Luangwa River.
Robin Pope Bush Camp map: Sleep out, deep in the bush, with your guide around a camp fire!
Tafika Lodge map: Tafika Lodge is owned and run by John and Carol Coppinger. They are renowned for offering unique and relaxed safaris at several hand-built camps in the North and South Luangwa.
Tena Tena Camp map: "Tena Tena Camp is altogether beyond superlatives, and must be one of the best safari camps in the whole of Africa" The Times, London

More about South Luangwa National Park

Birdwatching is also superb with over 420 bird species recorded. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows, including pelicans, saddle-billed and marabou storks, great white egret, black- headed and goliath herons and open-billed storks. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes with their golden tufts, which congregate in large flocks at the salt pans. At about the same time, just before the rains start in November, the migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red-chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows, swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river. One of the birding highlights of South Luangwa is the impressive breeding colonies of yellow-billed storks in the Nsefu Sector.

Getting there
Visitors usually fly into Lusaka Airport, where they connect to the Mfuwe airfield, on the outskirts of the park. Only 4X4 vehicles are recommended for travelling the network of game viewing roads.

Nearby areas:
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