Overview – North Luangwa NP
North Luangwa is the wild, sister park of the more popular and accessible South Luangwa National Park. It’s mostly a walking destination centered on the southern wilderness area of the park and is little visited. The habitat and wildlife is similar to South Luangwa, but animals are less habituated – its main appeal is its pristine bush and lack of other tourists. All the Big Five can be found, with black rhino protected in a large protected sanctuary in the heart of the park.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent wildlife viewing with all the Big Five present
- The only black rhino population in the country
- Remote wilderness area set aside for walking
- Excellent add-on to a conventional safari in South Luangwa
- Self-drive visitors are allowed in the northern part of the park but need to be self-sufficient
- Very limited, expensive, fly-in accommodation options in the southern wilderness area
The wildlife is similar to what you can see in South Luangwa. All the Big Five are present and can be encountered, although black rhino is held in a sanctuary for the time being. The rare, endemic Cookson's wildebeest is more common here than in its sister park, and giraffe is absent. Lion and buffalo are regularly seen, as are big herds of eland and Lichtenstein's hartebeest.
North Luangwa is part of the southern extension of Africa's Great Rift. The Luangwa river acts as the eastern boundary, but the Mwaleshi River is the lifeline of the park. Mopane and miombo woodland, acacia shrub, grassland savannah and riverine forest are some of the habitats that make up this lush valley. The Muchinga escarpment is a prominent landmark in the park.
Weather & Climate
North Luangwa has a tropical climate which keeps average temperatures fairly consistent throughout the year. The wildcard is changes in altitude. If you head up the escarpment, you’ll find that temperatures drop by about 6.5°C (3.5°F) every 1,000m (1,000ft). The park is subject to a Dry season (May to October) characterized by hot days, cold nights and no rain. Its Wet season (November to April) gets even hotter.
Best Time to Visit
You can only go on organized safaris in North Luangwa in the Dry season (May to October). The wildlife viewing is particularly good from July, when animals stay close to the remaining pockets of water and are easy to track. Lodges and tours shut down when the rains come and the heat soars.
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North-Luangwa Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.
North Luangwa is South Luangwa’s remote and reclusive big sister. The terrain and wildlife are very similar, but there are only a handful of lodges, few roads and visitor numbers are minimal. Consequently this park offers a real...
Latest User Review
Very poor destination for a self travler. Needed a guide in the park. Felt like a military excursion with a armed guard in my vehicle. Not pleasant at all. If you visit Zambia, give North LUangwa a definite skip.