A South Luangwa safari in Zambia presents an incredible opportunity to immerse oneself in the remarkable wildlife and stunning landscapes of this iconic national park. Situated along the Luangwa River, the area is teeming with an astonishing variety of wildlife, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
Getting to South Luangwa is usually done by flying into Mfuwe Airport, followed by a scenic transfer to the lodges. The lodges in South Luangwa range from rustic and traditional to luxurious and eco-friendly, offering a range of options to suit different preferences. These lodges are strategically positioned to provide breathtaking views and close proximity to wildlife hotspots.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life-blood of this 9 050km2 / 5 623mi² park. It protects a wide variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in South Luangwa and is still one of the finest ways to experience Africa’s pristine wilderness first-hand. The changing seasons add to its richness, ranging from dry, bare bush in the winter (April to October) to a lush, green wonderland in the summer months (November to March). There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species in South Luangwa National Park. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.
Activities in South Luangwa are diverse and exhilarating, with game drives being the highlight. Experienced guides lead guests on thrilling drives, where encounters with leopards, lions, elephants, and wild dogs are common. Aptly named the Valley of the Leopard, if you go to South Luangwa and don’t see a leopard, you may need your eyes tested! The incredibly diverse landscapes range from dense forests of mopane trees and the leopard’s favourite sausage trees, to wide open savanna punctuated only by the occasional lonely baobab, all hugged by the wide and winding Luangwa River.
Walking safaris are another popular option, allowing visitors to explore the bush on foot, accompanied by knowledgeable guides who unravel the intricacies of the ecosystem. Night drives offer a unique perspective, revealing the captivating nocturnal creatures and their behaviors.
Cultural visits to nearby villages provide an opportunity to engage with local communities, learn about their traditions, and support community-based projects.
Seasonal changes are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month, when game concentrations are at their height close to remaining sources of water. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August.
The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green, and the dry bleak terrain becomes lush and verdant. The rainy season lasts up until the end of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Each lodge stays open for as long as access is possible, depending on its location in the area. There are several lodges that remain open all year in the central area of the park.
A South Luangwa safari is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Zambia's wilderness, offering an unparalleled wildlife experience in an awe-inspiring setting.