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South Luangwa National Park Safari & Travel Guide

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(Last Updated On: December 23, 2022)

South Luangwa National Park, is a park situated in northeastern Zambia, southern Africa. Divided into two separate parks, one north, and one south, the Luangwa National Park covers a space of 6,00zero sq. miles (15,540 sq. km) and lies at an elevation varies from about 1,600 to three,600 ft (500 to 1,100 meters).

A renowned wildlife sanctuary, South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia is the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River. Thornicroft’s Giraffe, elephant, and buffalo herds can number in the hundreds, while the Luangwa River is home to a significant population of crocodiles and hippopotamuses.

For walking safaris, it is one of the most well-known national parks in Africa. The park, which presently spans 9,050 km2, was first established in 1938 as a wildlife reserve before becoming a national park in 1972.

Take a guided drive

Even if you tend to be an independent person who like to do your own thing, plan on taking at least one guided drive into the park. The local guides are more knowledgeable about where to go to see the greatest game because there are many little seasonal roads that they are familiar with.

We’re so delighted we chose to go for a drive at dusk. Speaking with the guide also provided us with advice on nice routes to drive down in search of wildlife on our subsequent few evenings of self-driving.

Best time to visit

In South Luangwa National Park, the majority of the lodges are seasonal. The typical opening season for lodges is from the end of March until the end of October. The individual lodge description pages provide comprehensive information concerning closures. The dry season, which lasts from July to October, is the ideal time to see animals in South Luangwa National Park.

The dry season, which lasts from July to October, is the ideal time to see animals in South Luangwa National Park. During the dry season, animals congregate along the Luangwa River as they leave the hot, humid jungle areas in search of the cool, refreshing water of the river.

During the “Emerald Season,” when the rains convert the parched landscape into a lush, green sanctuary and the birthing season starts, some lodges will stay open. Here are some benefits and drawbacks of the dry and wet seasons.

Dry season: April to October

Pros:

  • The dense jungle thins out, making it simpler to see wildlife.
  • The river will attract animals.
  • When to look for the more difficult-to-find species on your list.
  • Expect sunny days with high temperatures.
  • There are fewer mosquitoes, hence there are fewer risks for malaria.

Cons:

  • Riverside areas may be busier.
  • Sometimes the air is dry and dusty.

Wet Season: November to April

Pros:

  • A beautiful, verdant setting.
  • Reduced prices and less tourists.
  • Look for some adorable baby animals.
  • Observing birds is at its finest.

Cons:

  • There may be extreme humidity and heat.
  • Observing wildlife can be more difficult.
  • Less housing is available, and some routes can become impassable.

South Luangwa National Park Safari & Travel Guide

Following an interval of decline within the 1970s and ’80s during which poaching was rife, efforts had been made to revive the park.

South Luangwa National Park is in jap Zambia, the southernmost of three national parks within the valley of the Luangwa River.

Consultants have dubbed South Luangwa to be one of many best wildlife sanctuaries on the planet.

Due to its impervious location, this 9,050-sq km park manages to mix the immense density of wildlife with restricted customer numbers.

The park is likely one of the greatest in Zambia, if not Africa, for its surroundings, selection, and density of animals.

The Luangwa River is essentially the most intact main river system in Africa and is the lifeblood of this park. The park hosts all kinds of wildlife, birds, and vegetation.

There’s an enormous number of lodging to select from, from tenting on the banks of the Luangwa River to luxurious tents with air-con, or self-contained chalets to 5-star luxurious lodges.

Most lodging is on the sting of the park if not within the park itself, which is nice for 2 causes;

1. Drive time to the park is brief which means you may see animals within minutes of getting into the safari car.

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2. Given the proximity to the park, it isn’t unusual to see a herd of elephants wandering by the grounds of the lodge or some monkeys inflicting mischief across the campsite. You’ll definitely hear hippos grunting within the distance – it’s the true wilderness.

  • Sundowner, South Luangwa
  • Game drive south Luangwa
  • Sundowner, South Luangwa
  • Sunset in South Luangwa
  • Walking safari in South Luangwa

ACTIVITIES IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

The ‘strolling safari’ was pioneered in South Luangwa National Park again in the 1950s and 1960s. Because of the birthplace of strolling safaris, there’s nowhere higher to expertise the wild wonders of the African bush on foot.

A strolling safari gives a novel alternative to face (from a protected distance) and watch a wild animal, heightening the expertise immensely.

A strolling safari isn’t the one method to view wildlife in South Luangwa. The park permits each morning and night recreation drive.

Not all parks in Africa enable evening drives, so right here it is possible for you to view nocturnal wildlife and witness traditional African sundown on the banks of the Luangwa River, which is an expertise like no different.

You’ll be in a safe 4×Four safari car with a piece of skilled information and a spotter/driver.

Your information is right here to coach you in your environment and naturally the wildlife.

Every lodge in South Luangwa has its personal crew of guides and the extent of experience is extraordinarily excessive – you’ll study loads on safari in South Luangwa.

Generally, guests to South Luangwa will go to the park for any place between 3-7 days. A typical day on a safari within the South Luangwa National Park appears like this:

  • Get up the name at 05:30 – an opportunity to have breakfast earlier than your safari
  • The game drive begins at 06:00 / 06:30
  • Coffee and biscuits break round 08:00 / 08:30
  • Proceed with the recreation drive till 10:00/10:30 – arrive again at camp
  • Brunch/lunch around 11:00
  • Chill time – have a nap – lounge by the pool
  • Cake & (extra) tea at 15:00
  • Night recreation drive at 16:00
  • Sundowners around 17:30 / 18:00
  • Arrive again from the night recreation drive around 20:00
  • Straight to dinner after which, for a lot of, bed– for some, the bar!

In between all this consumption you’ll, after all, see a great deal of wildlife and uncover this superb park.

  • Leopard, South Luangwa
  • Baboon, South Luangwa
  • Hyena, South Luangwa
  • Wild Dog, South Luangwa
  • Warthog, South Luangwa
  • Zebra, South Luangwa
  • Lion, South Luangwa

Mammals within the South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa provides unbelievable wildlife viewing. 4 of the large 5 are current and simply seen. The elephant is ample within the park as are buffalo, generally herds counting tons of being seen.

Sightings of the lion are frequent, prides lounge in shaded spots reserving their power for the nightly hunt.

The often elusive leopard is often seen in South Luangwa; a lot so it has been nicknamed “the valley of the leopard”.

Preserve your eyes peeled for evening drives and you might be (virtually) assured to sight this majestic cat.

There’s extra to South Luangwa National Park than the large 4. Greater than 60 species of mammal inhabit South Luangwa, together with uncommon endemic species akin to Thornicroft’s giraffes, Cookson’s Wildebeest, and Crawshay’s zebras.

The wild canine is an occasional guest to the park, South Luangwa is the residence of one of many highest populations of African wild canines on the planet.

If you happen to take a look at the water you will notice crocodiles and big numbers of hippos.

The park has 14 completely different species of antelope. There are enormous populations of impala throughout the park.

Much less frequent are the bushbuck and the frequent duiker. The most important antelope to inhabit the park is the eland.

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Image Credit: Expedia

The Puku can be prevalent as is the Kudu. The Kudu is a superb sighting with its regal spiral horns and delicate face.

A lot more durable to see as they aren’t so widespread within the vacationer space of the park are reedbuck, roan, sable, grysbok, hartebeest, oribi, and klipspringer.

As soon as the solar units are, the park transforms, offering wholly completely different safari expertise. Chances are you’ll sight animals akin to leopard and lion searching.

What’s extra thrilling is the animal species you may see that aren’t energetic throughout the day, akin to genets, civets, mongoose, scrub hares, and elephant shrews. And in case you’re extraordinarily fortunate porcupine and honey badgers.

Different notable mammals embrace hyena, Vervet monkey, baboon, bush child, pangolin and everybody’s favorite the warthog.

  • Birdlife South Luangwa
  • Birdlife at South Luangwa
  • Birdlife South Luangwa
  • Birdlife South Luangwa
  • Birdlife South Luangwa

Birdlife of the South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa is a birder’s paradise; greater than 450 species have been recorded within the park. What’s extra thrilling for chook watchers is the opportunity of seeing greater than 100 species in a day.

The riverbanks are residence to excessive populations of southern carmine bee-eaters, a summer season migrant to Zambia, arriving in late August and early September to breed.

They are going to dig particular person tunnels into the financial institution the place they are going to lay their eggs and care for or their younger ones in late November and early December.

Observing the southern carmine bee-eaters in August and September is an unbelievable sighting however the perfect time for birding in South Luangwa is throughout the moist months from November to April.

Throughout this time, migrant birds have settled in and lots of birds are breeding plumage.

Because the rains come to a finish and the park begins to dry pelicans and yellow-billed storks collect within the final puddles of water to scoop out the fish, and Grey-crowned cranes can generally be present in flocks of as much as 300.

Park internal roads

The roads inside the park aren’t great; in some spots, they resemble jeep tracks, so you’ll need to be in a high-clearance car and rather daring. This is mostly due to the fact that many of them are seasonal; during the wet season, they flood and are then rebuilt. They are not flawless, but they are useful since they are recreated every year.

Notable birds in South Luangwa

  • Pel’s fishing owl
  • Verreaux’s eagle owl
  • African skimmer
  • Great white pelican
  • Lilac-breasted roller
  • Little bee-eater
  • Lilian’s lovebird
  • Western banded snake eagle
  • Woodland Kingfisher

All through the whole yr, South Luangwa is excellent for birders and non-birders alike, the variety and abundance of chic and vibrant birds are outstanding.

You’re assured to seize unbelievable pictures of them hovering within the skies and perching on tree branches.

  • Hippos in South Luangwa
  • Carmine bee-eater, South Luangwa
  • Safety briefing before a walking safari
  • Elephants, South Luangwa
  • Sundowner in South Luangwa

Experience the South Luangwa National Park

By combining unbelievable wildlife with extraordinarily high-quality guiding, Luangwa comes out close to the highest of the checklist of Arica’s most well-known parks.

Though the recognition of the park is obvious and rising, South Luangwa stays uncrowded from vacationers and gives very genuine safari expertise.

Cost

For self-driving in the park, foreign visitors must pay $30 per person per day ($25 if you’re not self-driving). Residents of the SADC must pay $20 per person per day. [Note: These tariffs have been revised for 2018] Do not believe outdated editions of guidebooks; your permit is only valid from 6:00 to 18:00, and it CANNOT be carried over into the next day within a 24-hour window as it formerly could.

Maps

Strangely, when you pay your entry fee at the entrance gate, the park staff does not provide you a map of the park. nothing, not even copies. Our guy grinned warmly in apologies and muttered something about finding paper being difficult. Therefore, if you don’t have a GPS with current maps, you might end up getting terribly lost. We stayed at Croc Valley, and we scanned an old version of the map you’ll find on the wall at the entrance gate to use as a backup for our GPS.

How to drive there

We traveled 460 kilometers from Livingstone, Zimbabwe’s border town, to Lusaka, then turned east to reach Chipata, Malawi’s border town (another 550km). The roads are very sluggish, especially when traveling through villages, so we opted to spend the night in Lusaka rather than complete the journey in one day.

Though it is only 130 kilometers (km) from Chipata to the little settlement of Mfuwe, the route took us 3.5 hours due to road construction and extended sections of poor gravel surface. Although there are alternative ways to go to the South Luangwa National Park, our investigation showed that this was by far the most trustworthy and finest option. It might be wise to inquire about the condition of the route before making a reservation for lodging.

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Image Credit: Go2Africa

Final Thought

The title of top wildlife park in Africa is very competitive. On the list would undoubtedly include the Serengeti, Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater, Etosha, Kruger, Moremi, and Mana Pools. More so than most, South Luangwa has a stronger case. Some of these other places will have game concentrations that are astonishingly high. Many other parks in Africa that are less well-known will have just as few tourists.

A few of them also permit night drives, which provide access to a new, nocturnal world and make it possible to often spot and even observe leopards as they hunt. Few places, though, provide the high caliber of guiding that South Luangwa does, together with the amazing animal spectacles that can be seen there day and night in the solitude of a real wilderness. These factors may be the criteria by which the competitors should be evaluated, and the South Luangwa Park ranks well among them.

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