Overview – Nsumbu NP
Located on the southern shore of Lake Tanganyika, this little-visited park is very rewarding scenically. The park was subject to heavy poaching in the 1980s and 90s, but wildlife densities are improving. Aside from wildlife viewing and bird watching, several lake activities are also available, including fishing, sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The park is, in fact, a great base for a broader range of activities than most parks – these include village visits, rainforest walks and waterfall trips.
Pros & Cons
- Very scenic park on the shore of Lake Tanganyika
- Excellent for fishing, snorkeling, waterskiing and scuba-diving
- Little-visited, off-the-beaten-track destination
- Low wildlife densities, and limited variety of flagship species
- Only one lodge available outside the park
- Getting to the park is expensive and difficult
The park is not a prime, wildlife-viewing destination, but could more accurately be described as a wilderness destination with wildlife. Having said that, animal numbers are on the increase. The lake is home to good numbers of hippo and crocodile. Elephant and buffalo often come to the lake to drink, and a variety of antelope species can be seen on the drives. Lion and hyena are shy but can be heard (and sometimes seen) at night.
The park covers a small part of Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s most scenic rift valley lakes. Sandy beaches, rocky coves and natural bays follow the 100km/60mi shoreline. Inland are grassy hills interrupted by the picturesque Lufubu River in a valley flanked by escarpments on either side.
Weather & Climate
Temperatures in Nsumbu stay relatively stable throughout the year because of the park’s tropical location. Nsumbu experiences a warm Dry season (May to October), except at night when the temperature takes a dive and there’s a real chill in the air. The arrival of rain in November marks the start of the area’s Wet season (November to April), which is filled with hot days but pleasant nights.
Best Time to Visit
Nsumbu receives few visitors, so unlike other Zambian parks, it never feels crowded. The Dry season (May to October) is the prime time for wildlife watching. This is when the bush is thin on the ground due to the lack of rain, making animals easier to spot, and it’s a sure bet they’ll stick close to the remaining sources of water. The wetter months are best avoided unless you enjoy continual heat and damp.
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Nana is a travel writer and author of multiple guidebooks, including the Lonely Planet guides to Africa, Zambia & Malawi and South Africa.
Relax on pristine beaches
Sumbu National Park hugs the shores of Lake Tanganyika, at Zambia’s northernmost tip, taking in cliffs, beaches and sheltered bays, as well as hills and valleys in the interior. It isn’t a great place for seeing big game – there are...