South Luangwa NP

- Overview South Luangwa Safaris

About South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is Zambia's flagship park. Four of the Big Five are present and easily seen; only rhino is absent. Aside from game drives, there are excellent walking safaris and night drives conducted by some of the best guides on the continent. This park appeals to both the novice safari-goer and the repeat visitor. There is plenty of larger wildlife around to satisfy everybody, as well as birds and smaller creatures of the bush.

Size: help
9,050km² / 3,494mi²
Altitude: help
468-1,740m / 1,535-5,709ft
Pros and Cons
  • Excellent wildlife viewing with four of the Big Five present
  • Some of the best guides in Africa work in South Luangwa
  • Great night drives and walking safaris
  • Lots of choice for upmarket lodging, with a few budget options
  • It gets very hazy in the Dry season
  • All budget accommodation is outside the park

Wildlife

Wildlife viewing in South Luangwa is superb, with excellent animal densities. Big herds of elephant and buffalo are almost guaranteed, and sightings of lion and leopard are common. There are lots of antelope around, and most interesting are the three unique subspecies that inhabit the park: Thornicroft's giraffe, Crawshay's zebra and Cookson's wildebeest.
More about the wildlife

Scenery

South Luangwa is a beautiful park, one of the loveliest in southern Africa. Locally known as 'The Valley', it is the southern extension of Africa's Great Rift and is dominated by the Luangwa River. Mopane and miombo woodland, acacia shrub, grassland savannah and riverine forest are some of the habitats that make up this lush valley.

Weather & Climate

South Luangwa becomes parched in the Dry season (May to October), when rain simply refuses to fall. The heat starts building from the mid-year months of June/July, peaking unpleasantly in October before the rains finally arrive. The respite is only temporary, though, as the Wet season (November to April) keeps the weather on the boil. Only the park’s higher altitudes are exempt, where it gets cooler as you ascend.
More about the weather and climate

Best Time to Visit

South Luangwa’s wetter months (November to April) are fittingly referred to as the ‘emerald season’, acknowledging the park’s lush transformation. But while the scenery is beautiful and the air is at its freshest, the wildlife watching is not ideal. The heat and waterlogged roads make safaris challenging. The drier, sunnier months (especially July to September before the real heat kicks in) are a better bet for spotting animals, which can easily be found down at the Luangwa River.
More about the best time to visit

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