South Luangwa National Park

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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa was founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9,050km2. The park is located in eastern Zambia, the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River.

South Luangwa National Park has been named one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. This isn’t without reason, visit South Luangwa and you will see an abundance of wildlife, especially around the Luangwa River.

Wildife of South Luangwa National Park

The park supports large populations of Thornicroft’s giraffe, an indigenous species to the park, and herds of elephants, Crawshay’s Zebras, Cooksons wildebeest, both of which are endemic to the park, and Cape buffaloes often several hundred strong.

South Luangwa is very well known for its big cats (and dogs). There are said to be at least 9 prides, however the exact number of lions in the park is unknown. There is also a profusion of leopard in the park, experts say there are 3 leopards for every km2. South Luangwa isn’t only rich in big cats, wild dogs, although more elusive than their feline counterparts are prominent in the Luangwa Valley, there are x packs in the park, sometimes up to 40 members strong.

South Luangwa also plays host to many other animals: antelope, 14 different species in fact, including kudo, impala, sable and puku, as well as warthogs, hyena, monkeys, baboons, porcupine and much, much more. Get close to the river and you will see lots of crocodiles and hippos, it is estimated there are 50 hippos per km of river.

South Luangwa is also somewhat of a birders paradise, the park welcomes more than 450 species each year, in one day you could see 100 species. The birdlife includes many species typical of southern Africa and those more usually known from east Africa. Visitor favourites include the Carmine Bee Eater and Lilac Breasted Roller.

Vegetation of South Luangwa National Park

Baobabs are a very common site across the park but there is a specific Baobab Forest where some of the trees are estimated to be over 300 years old meaning they were around before the first people started exploring the area. Sausage trees known as Muvungula locally – again these are plentiful but always fascinating to see. The fruit can grow up to 3 feet in length and weigh up to 22 pounds. They grow from the centre of the maroon coloured flowers, which many mammals in the park feed on. Other trees you will spot in the park include Scrambled Egg Tree (Desert Cassia tree), Marula tree and tall vegetable ivory palm.

What to do in South Luangwa National Park

  1. Game drives:
    Game drives take place every morning and afternoon from each lodge in the Luangwa Valley, you will be accompanied by one of their qualified guides. During this activity you will be taken through the park in an open 4×4 safari vehicle, where you will be able to observe the magnificent mammals and birds.
  2. Walking safaris:
    The Luangwa Valley is one of the few places in Africa where it is possible to walk amongst the wildlife. This is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the bush and learn more about the vegetation, ecology and insects of the park.
  3. Night drives:
    Night drives provide the opportunity to see a great variety of nocturnal animals. You may even get to see predators hunting. You will be accompanied by a guide and spotter, who are highly skilled in seeing the nocturnal beings.
  4. Photography safaris – Some lodges in Luangwa offer photography safaris which gives guests the opportunity to sharpen their photography skills accompanied by a professional photographer. South Luangwa has great photographic hides where you can sit comfortably and wait as long as it takes to capture that perfect shot.

Who the park is good for

South Luangwa is great for first time safari goers and seasoned safari pro’s. The park is much smaller than the most famous safari parks of Africa but it is arguably one of the top ten wildlife reserves on the continent. South Luangwa offers an unparalleled game and birdlife viewing experience and a rich landscape that will leave everyone with unforgettable memories.

Park entry fees

Park fees for Internationals: USD25/person/day
Park fees for SADC residents: USD20/person/day
Park fees for citizens: ZMW27.80/person/day

Would you like to visit South Luangwa? Visit our South Luangwa safari specialist website and find your perfect safari getaway.

Tours including this destination