SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
One of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, with the large concentration of game around the Luangwa River and its ox bow lagoons being among the most intense in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the park's 9050km2. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand. The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species.
With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Valley, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.
Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley, among the more common trees in the valley are the
Mopane, Leadwood, Winterthorn, some beautiful specimens of baobab, large ebony forests, the tall vegetable ivory palm, marula and the magnificent tamarind tree.
WHEN TO GO:
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. 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 a lush jungle. 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.
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Mfuwe Airport recently achieved international status and various airlines were looking at scheduled flights from abroad
Domestic flights operate about ten times a week in peak season (June-Oct) from Lusaka.
Charter flights from outside the country can now fly direct without clearing customs at Lusaka and there are a number of charter companies in Zambia that can fly to and from Zambia’s top destinations. All lodges do transfers to and from the airport. Zambian Airways has scheduled flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe. Air Malawi has scheduled flights from Lilongwe to Mfuwe.
Driving, one can approach from 3 sides:
The usual route is from Chipata. This is a good road if a little corrugated and the 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, just outside the Park.
If travelling in a robust 4x4 from Lusaka, it is possible to take a short cut from the Great East Road at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. Only to be attempted well into the dry season.
The Northern access is from Mpika on the Great North Road or Lundazi, near Zambia’s eastern border with Malawi. Just below Mpika, there is a road running down the Munyamadzi Corridor between North and South Luangwa Parks. It is passable but only in 4WD and preferably with two vehicles as help is a long way away. The mountain pass down the escarpment is quite formidable, very rocky and bumpy but the view over this, the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, is quite spectacular.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are many varied places to stay in the Valley ranging from luxurious safari camps to budget chalets and camping. Most of the lodges are spread along the east bank of the Luangwa River, in the adjoining Game Management Area, conducting game drives and walking safaris along the west bank, in the Park itself. Some of the Lodges have bush camps deep in the Park for remote walking safaris.
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