South Luangwa

The lush and beautiful riverine vegetation of the South Luangwa attract some of the greatest wildlife concentrations in Africa.

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South Luangwa Safari Ideas

The South Luangwa National Park in Zambia lies at the southern tip of the Rift Valley. This is one of the premier wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. Here the brooding Luangwa River meanders through this luxuriant valley. The rift valley escarpment forms the park’s natural boundary to the east. Whilst the river forms its western boundary. It supports thousands of hippo and crocodile. Between the river and the escarpment, varied habitats attract an equal diversity of wildlife: from primeval forest and lush savanna, to huge ox bow lagoons and groves of ebony trees. Birding is also excellent with over 450 species to be seen.

An ideal South Luangwa safari is 6-8 nights, staying 2-3 nights in 2 or 3 different South Luangwa lodges. We have visited most of them and know that it’s a bewildering choice. So we chat with you and help you decide which are right for you. And also which complement each other.

Many visitors spend a couple of nights maxing out their camera’s memory cards in the central South Luangwa lodges such as Chinzombo Lodge, Nkwali or Mfuwe. Here the animals are relaxed and used to vehicles. Then you head to some of the more remote luangwa lodges. Delightful bush camps occupy prime sites on ancient oxbow lakes amidst shady ebony groves. (If you remember your school geography, these are the only reminders of the original water course.)

Attractions of a South Luangwa Safari:

  • Zambia’s premier wildlife sanctuary
  • Excellent chances of seeing leopard
  • Night drives on offer to spot nocturnal wildlife
  • Wide choice of safari camps to suit all temperaments and budgets
  • Excellent mobile walking safaris

Best time to visit the South Luangwa?

The South Luangwa safari experience differs greatly with the seasons. The central Luangwa lodges stay open year round. As this is the only part of South Luangwa which doesn’t get water-logged! When the dry winter months begin, the rest of the South Luangwa becomes accessible. Thus from mid- May/June to September you can stay at small seasonal bush camps in glorious seclusion.

The dry pleasant winter months offer an all-round game-viewing experience as the animals begin to come to the rivers in search of water. As the dry season continues into October, it gets very hot. (October would be too hot for many people for a walking safari.)

For experienced safari addicts, the ’emerald season’ (as the rainy season is known) holds a myriad of pleasures. Now the animals tend to congregate in the central region, the bush is green and lush, animals are giving birth. And of course the bird life is excellent.

Finally the South Luangwa is particularly known for its walking safaris. See What to do below…

Note: what is an ox bow lake?
When the Luangwa River is in flood the hairpin bends along its tortuous route are progressively eroded away. Finally the main stream cuts through one of its loops, leaving behind attractive ox-bow lagoons. These lagoons are one of the most picturesque, and distinctive aspects of a South Luangwa safari.