The Luangwa Valley, Zambia, with 3 national parks including South Luangwa National Park, North Luangwa National Park and Luambe National Park is a safari destination par excellence. The three parks are located in the southern end of the Great Rift Valley in Zambia’s eastern province.
South Luangwa National Park
The South Luangwa National Park is the most popular of the three and has year-round access. It is one of Africa’s ecologically unspoilt wilderness areas. The national park is 9,050 square km in size and home to over 420 species of birds and over 60 species of mammals.
The park is renowned for its high population of leopards which are commonly seen on night drives, large herds of elephant as well as great numbers of hippo and crocodile in the river.
Lions are commonly seen in South Luangwa National Park and it is the only place in the world where they are known to kill hippos. The lion prides here include up to 20 animals! Indigenous species to Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park are the Thornicroft giraffe and the Cookson’s wildebeest.
The dry season from April/May to October is ideal for viewing the abundant game in the park. As the river dries up the animals come into the lagoons to drink more frequently, providing you with great opportunities for sightings.
The ever-changing course of the river has left many oxbow lagoons and the stunning scenery makes it a truly unique wildlife destination.
November/December is a special time with the first occasional short rain showers. This is the time when most animals produce their young and short grass offers excellent game viewing.
At that time the bush changes from dusty dry to an emerald green. To see heavy clouds form on the horizon and then smell the fresh clean scent of the first rains is an unforgettable experience.
The rainy period from November to March is an exceptional time of the year with its ever changing scenery. Rains do not occur daily and never last more than a few hours, allowing you to enjoy game drives and birding to the full extent.
The peak of the rainy season, January to March, is the time when the Luangwa River is in full flood and all the pools and lagoons are filled with water. The sometimes heavy but usually short afternoon showers are more frequent now. The night sky is torn by lightening and roaring thunder interrupts the night sounds. With sunrise the clouds clear and the morning awakes to a crystal clear day.
In April/May, the rains have stopped and the bush starts to dry out. The water level of the river drops exposing the vast sandbanks so typical for the Luangwa River. Roads dry up, seasonal loops open again and the lush green grass now turns to a golden brown.
Have a look at our Luangwa Valley photo gallery!