Expert Reviews – Liuwa Plain NP

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Migration Mania
Overall rating

Liuwa Plain in western Zambia is the answer for safari goers who’ve dreamt of seeing tens of thousands of wildebeest migrating across the wide-open plains without another vehicle or person in sight. If you’ve ever sat in the Masai Mara surrounded by minibuses and tried to imagine what the incredible spectacle was like fifty years earlier, before the tourist hordes arrived, then Liuwa is the place for you. But migrating wildebeest and zebra aren’t the only reason to visit the true wilderness of Liuwa, huge clans of hyaena, packs of wild dog, cheetah and lion roam the savanna and surrounding woodlands, preying on the sick and the weak. The plains are in fact a giant wetland – inaccessible during the rains but teeming with water birds, colourful flowers and wildlife thereafter. I once observed three wild dog kills take place in the space of 36 action-packed hours while on safari here. Liuwa is my recommendation for tourists wanting to experience great wildlife-viewing in one of Africa’s wildest wilderness areas.

Zambia’s Wild West
Overall rating

Despite its relative lack of big game, Liuwa Plain National Park is one of my favourites. It’s a paradise for the true bush-lover – even just getting into the park is an adventure that includes negotiating a river on a small and rickety hand-pulled ferry just about big enough for a solitary vehicle.

Liuwa has become known for three things: wild dogs, Lady Liuwa (star of the documentary ‘The Last Lioness’) and, most of all, the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa, which usually begins in October or November. The seemingly endless plains make for a striking backdrop to this spectacle, and all those wildebeest calves are a little like a walking buffet for the park’s hyena and wild dog.

The camps here are as basic and remote as you’ll find anywhere, but there’s lots of peace and quiet and authentic bush charm. An added point of interest in Liuwa is the scattering of small villages, and the inhabitants who continue to practice their traditional subsistence farming, within the park boundaries. When I was last here, the local villagers were the only other people we saw in 4 days inside the park – and not a single other vehicle.

Gorgeous but remote park in Zambia’s wild west
Overall rating

Tucked away in one of Zambia’s remotest corners, close to the Angolan border, Liuwa Plain attracts few tourists, but that’s not for lack of interest. Those hardy travellers that make the trek can expect to enjoy the thrill of a true wilderness experience. Get the timing right, and you can see almost as many wildebeest on the move here as you would in the Serengeti at the height of the migration. Their numbers peak in November and December. Other significan t species are gradually being introduced.

Another good reason to time things carefully is that road access to the park is via the Barotse floodplain – tough going in the dry season, with yawning potholes, and impossible after rain. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy long, bumpy journeys by 4WD.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.6/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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