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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is a conservation area of 9,050 sq kilometers (3,490 sq mi) in Northern, Eastern and Central provinces in Zambia, declared in 1972 to protect world-famous wildlife along the winding Luangwa River valley and lagoon the most intense in Africa filled with hippos and crocodiles.

South Luangwa National Park is one of the largest diversity spots of habitats and wildlife that supports over 60 species of mammals and over 400 species of birds. The area is home to a large population of the Thornicroft giraffe, a herd of elephants and Cape buffalo.

Xvlor South Luangwa National Park South Luangwa National Park

The park is not separated where the western part is a steep cliff and in the east is the bank of the Luangwa River as the valley at the tail end of the Great African Rift Valley system that extends over 4,000 kilometers from the Red Sea to the Pungwe River in Mozambique.

The Muchinga Escarpment in the Northern and Central Provinces forms the western or northwestern boundary of the park to tilt down to the eastern edge of the river in the Eastern Province where British conservationist Norman Carr in 1950 set up a publicly-accessory observation camp in northern Rhodesia. Guests use the camera and South Luangwa is home to photography and walking safari.

The park includes two ecoregions, a forest meadow with Southern Miombo woodlands on higher slopes of the valley, while Zambezian and Mopane woodlands at the bottom of the valley. Mopane trees tolerate higher temperatures and lower rainfall are found at lower altitudes than the miombo trees found in the highlands.

The savanna forest also has a larger grassland so that zebra and giraffes live abundantly in touch in the same area. Pastures flooded by floods are found near the river where hippos graze at night. Dirt is released into the river to fertilize the waters and support the fish population which in turn sustains the crocodile.

The Luangwa Valley continues west in the Lunsemfwa River valley containing several species of birds as well as a natural barrier to human mobility where there is no passing road that helps preserve wildlife. The main human settlement is outside the eastern border of Mfuwe.


South Luangwa National Park has a variety of wildlife including lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus).

Rhodesian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Crawshay's zebra (Equus quagga crawshayi), blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), puku (Kobus vardonii).

Impala (Aepyceros melampus), common eland (Taurotragus oryx), waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), imbabala (Tragelaphus sylvaticus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), baboon (Papio), and vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus).


Birds include gray crowned cranes (Balearica regulorum), goliath heron (Ardea goliath), openbill stork (Anastomus amelligerus), black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala), African great egret (Ardea alba melanorhynchos), marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer).

Saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), yellow-billed stork (Mycteria ibis). African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), white-browed robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini), southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) and lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus).

Shortly before the rainy season arrives in November the Palearkik migrants from Northern Europe and intra-African migrants arrive to take advantage of the food opportunities brought by the warm monsoon season. They include southern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides), red-chested cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius), white stork (Ciconia ciconia), steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), and common buzzard (Buteo buteo).

Location: Northern, Eastern and Central Provinces of Zambia.

Routes and public transport: Flights to Mfuwe Airport in Mfuwe town, then drive to Mfuwe Gate near Mfuwe Village for 30 minutes. Alternatively drive to Nyamaluma Gate for 50 kilometers to the southwest where the pontoon hauls a vehicle to cross the river.

Advice: Zambia visa is US$50 for single entry and US$80 for double entry (March 2018) and can be done in Lusaka, Livingstone or Mfuwe upon first arrival in Zambia.

Park Entry permission is valid for one calendar day open from 6 am to 6 pm and only licensed tour operators are allowed to enter the park after 6 pm. Children under 5 years old will not be charged and the age of 5 years to 13 years must pay 50%.

Additional charge if you bring your own vehicle. Non Residents US$25 per person per day, while Zambian Residents / SADC members ZK42 per person per day. Most visitors take a tour by car organized by their inn or their own 4WD vehicle or rent in Mfuwe.

The water level in the Luangwa River is too low to prevent boat trips during the dry season. In the rainy season some operators organize canoe safaris, but it is not recommended that you do yourself due to the large number of hippos and crocodiles. Standalone walking is not permitted, but you can join a walking safari. South Luangwa National Park

Xvlor South Luangwa National Park

May to October (Dry Season): Shrubs are thinning, large mammals gather around the river, sunny days and plenty of sunshine, less mosquitoes, dusty and arid air, high visiting season and higher tour fares.

November to April (Rainy Season): Landscape is green and lush, some cute new baby animals, best time bird watching, hot and humid, roads difficult to access, few tourist visits and lower tour fares.

All the lodgings set up trained guides bring visitors around with a safari jeep normally arranged before 6 am and in the afternoon after sunset when high powered spotlights are used to find nightlife including leopards, hyenas and civets.

Some inns organize a walking safari where you actually walk in the bush and track the animals with the help of an experienced guide. Walking safaris can be as short as 4 hours, but travel a few days where you spend the night in bushcamps (usually much more luxurious than you think of its name).

Lodging in the park include Kaingo Camp, Zikomo Safari Camp, Kafunta River Lodge, Wildlife Camp, Mfuwe Lodge, Thornicroft Lodge, Mushroom Lodge, Shenton Safaris, Marula Lodge and others. Camping includes Croc Valley Camp, Track and Trail River Camp, and Wildlife Camp. Bush Camps include Island Bush Camp.

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