Expert Reviews – Liuwa Plain NP
Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.
Liuwa Plain: Zambia’s Wild West
Out in the far west of Zambia, far from the well-worn safari trails of Kafue and Luangwa, Liuwa Plain is a fascinating work in progress. Overseen by African Parks and part of a project to bring back the wildlife populations devastated by decades of poaching and mismanagement, Liuwa Plain is an experiment that deserves to succeed. There are numerous villages within the park boundaries – part of a plan to build strong wildlife populations that benefit local communities – but these rarely disturb the sense that this is wild country, home to vast plains of Serengeti-like grasslands. Until lodges put down roots, there are basic campsites from which to launch expeditions in search of the abundant hyena and wildebeest populations (Liuwa Plain hosts one of Africa’s least-known wildebeest migrations). But the stars are the lions of Liuwa – Lady Liuwa, a lioness who was the only surviving lion in the area for almost a decade, is something of an international celebrity and seeing her remains one of my all-time safari highlights. She has since been joined by males, cubs and another lioness brought in from elsewhere. The park is inaccessible in the wet season (which begins in November) but fabulous at other times.
Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.
Africa’s second wildebeest migration and a famous lioness
Liuwa is a remote, raw park that few tourists see. It’s a place of endless grasslands, vivid blue pools strewn with lilies, and thousands upon thousands of wildebeest that migrate across the plains following the floods. In fact, this is the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa and it feeds a staggering 700 hyenas that live in and around the park. Here, they’re not scavengers but predators and I learnt a new respect for them watching their family groups hunting, feeding, playing and socializing together. Liuwa is also home to the world’s loneliest lioness, Lady, who survived here on her own for nine years until conservation organization African Parks brought in some younger lions to breed and keep her company. Lady is very special – seeing her with her new pride was one of the highlights of my visit. We also spent a fascinating afternoon with researchers from the Zambian Carnivore Program learning about their work and I’d highly recommend this to anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of this magical place.