Often heralded as one of Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries, the South Luangwa National Park is one of three nature reserves in the Luangwa River Valley, set in remote eastern Zambia. Three features set this 9,050 square kilometres of pristine wilderness apart:
Firstly, South Luangwa is home to the most untouched river system in Africa, a lifeline for wildlife. Some 60 different mammals can be encountered here, ranging from huge elephant and buffalo herds to leopard – believed to occur in the world’s highest densities in this very park. Unique species ranging from Crawshay’s zebra and Thornicroft’s giraffe to Cookson’s wildebeest are found nowhere else on the continent. Furthermore, over 400 avian species have been recorded, making the area paradise for birders.
Secondly, the South Luangwa National Park harbours fantastically diverse scenery, from rich woodland brimming with all manner of magnificent hardwood trees to open floodplains favoured by herbivores close to waterways. Throughout the year, the landscape changes dramatically, being lush and emerald green during and after the rains, then turning into parched, dry scrub in the “winter” months (June-October). Each distinct season supports a range of different fascinating flora and brings with it fascinating animal behaviour to observe, from wildflowers and flocks of migrant birds to newborn animals.
Finally, the South Luangwa holds the distinction as the spiritual birthplace of the walking safari. Guides in the region are amongst Africa’s best, while operators often provide visitors with the opportunity to make their way on foot between campsites. Nothing in the world compares to tracking big game species such as lion on foot, listening and looking for signs such as spoor to locate wild creatures!
Most of the park’s camps and lodges are located near (or on) the Luangwa River, and are deliberately small and rustic to offer guests an intimate experience and personalised encounters with wildlife. If you’d like an even more exclusive safari, head up to the North Luangwa National Park, a truly untouched area where properties are few and far between.