South Luangwa National Park is based on the Luangwa River and its many tributaries. It is just over 9,000 sq km with the Muchinga Escarpment to the west and the Luangwa River to the east. The Luangwa River runs throughout the year but is reduced to a large trickle towards the end of the dry season (September and October). The pools remaining in the river are the resting places of many hippo and crocodile.

The map shows the park and part of Lupande Game Management Area.  The park is on the west of the river together with Nsefu Area.  Although some of the lodges and camps are in the park, some are in Lupande GMA.  There is plenty of wildlife in the GMA.  The animals are often seen crossing the river when it is low.

The Luangwa River forms the eastern border of the park. From the river the land rises gradually at first and then dramatically into the Muchinga Escarpment.  Between the hills and the river there is a variety of mature woodlands interspersed with waterholes and plains.

Nsefu has salt springs which attract large numbers of water birds. Trees include some enormous baobabs and many Ilala palms (Hyphaene ventricosa). Riverine trees are Musikili (Trichelia emetica) and Red mahogany (Khaya nyasica).

South Luangwa has the most prolific wildlife of all parks in Zambia.  Specials also include Thornicroft’s giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest. Thornicroft’s giraffe is the only naturally occurring species of giraffe in Zambia.

The park is also known for its large leopard population.

South Luangwa National Park is an Important Bird Area (IBA).

The Southern carmine bee-eaters and the White-fronted bee-eaters form colonies which nest in the banks of the Luangwa River from September.  The river is also the place to spot Yellow-billed storks, African spoonbill, African crake and African skimmer.  The Great snipe visits during the rainy season and is found in marshlands of the oxbow lakes as well as the Dwarf bittern.  In the mopane forests look out for Lillian’s lovebird.  During the night listen for the Pel’s fishing owl.

There are 460 bird species recorded in the park.  For a list compiled by Pete Leonard for BirdWatch Zambia CLICK HERE

Most visitors take morning or afternoon drives with the lodge guides in open safari vehicles. The guides are very professional and will give guests an informative experience. Night drives are also on offer.

There is rarely cruising along the river as the Luangwa is seasonal and can only take boats when the river is high during the rainy season.  It is, however, an exceptional experience to take a ride in a boat when the river has flooded into the oxbow lakes and other normally inaccessible areas.

South Luangwa is known for its walking safaris. Walks can be for an hour or two or for longer. Some lodges offer walks between camps for a 3-day experience.

Citizens                                          K42 per person per day
Residents and SADC Nationals     US$20 per person per day
International                                   US$25 per person per day
Self-drive                                        US$30 per person per day

Vehicle (Under 3 tonnes)
Local                                              K25.50 per vehicle per day
International                                   US$15 per vehicle per day

Note that park fees are not applicable in Lupande Game Management Area.





Conservation South Luangwa

Conservation South Luangwa works in the park and surrounding Game Management Areas.  Their work includes anti-poaching and human-wildlife conflict.  People living around the park are often visited by animals which leave the park boundaries.  Elephants are particularly bad offenders as they go into the farmlands to eat crops.  A year’s worth of food can be destroyed or eaten by a few elephants in one night.  But elephants do not like chillies, so the farmers have been taught to grow chillies and to use them to make a grease which can be smeared onto a simple string fence.  The elephants are stopped in their tracks when they meet this fence.

Conservation South Luangwa also has a canine unit which is used on patrols in the park and at road blocks where the dogs can sniff out illegal wildlife products.

To find out more:

Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust

Steve and Anna Tolan set up Chipembele Wildlife Trust in 1998 in Lupande Game Management Area which borders South Luangwa National Park.  Their emphasis is to teach children from the area about their natural heritage.  The premises, over the years, have grown to house a resource centre and classrooms.  The children are brought to the centre where they attend classes and are taken into the park all the while learning to appreciate the environment.

To find out more:

Zambia Carnivore Programme

Zambia Carnivore Programme works in three parks in Zambia – Kafue, Liuwa Plain and South Luangwa.  Their main focus is on research of the predators in the park and their habitat but they also assist in many other areas alongside the authorities and other NGOs.

To find out more: