Overview – South Luangwa NP

Alan Murphy
Expert
By Alan Murphy

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Zambia.

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and has authored many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Zambia.

Alan is a renowned Africa expert and authored the Lonely Planet guidebook to Zambia.

Alan has authored the Lonely Planet guide to Zambia.

South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s most-visited park. This is because four of the Big Five are easily seen here: lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo (only rhino is missing). That makes it a real treat if it’s your first safari. But the high standard of guiding makes the park a favorite with repeat visitors too.

Best Time to Go July to the mid-November (Animals are easy to find)
High Season July to October (Busy and high season rates apply)
Size 9,050km² / 3,494mi²
Altitude 482-1,687m / 1,581-5,535ft

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent wildlife viewing
  • Some of the best guides in Africa work in South Luangwa
  • Great night drives and walking safaris
  • Lots of choice for upmarket accommodation
  • The sky gets very hazy in the Dry season
  • All budget accommodation is outside the park

South Luangwa NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

You can’t miss seeing big herds of elephant and buffalo in South Luangwa, and probably some lion and leopard too. There are plenty of other animals too. Some of them you won’t see anywhere else except in Zambia: Thornicroft's giraffe, Crawshay's zebra and Cookson's wildebeest.

Scenery

South Luangwa is one of the most beautiful parks in southern Africa, especially when the late-afternoon light reflects off the Luangwa River. Locally known as 'The Valley', the terrain is a mix of mopane and miombo woodland, acacia shrub, grassland savannah and riverine forest. A walking safari will give you time to really appreciate it.

Weather & Climate

It’s hot in South Luangwa throughout the year, but nights are cooler in the Dry season months from May to August. The heat builds up from June/July and is at its worst in October – just before the rains. Afternoon showers are common in the Wet season (November to April).

Best Time to Visit

The sunny, dry season months are best for spotting animals – especially July to September. If you visit South Luangwa during the wetter months (November to April), you’ll understand why this is called the ‘emerald season’: beautiful greenery and really fresh air.

Want to Visit South Luangwa NP?

South Luangwa NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
South Luangwa walking safari
5/5

There is definitely something unnerving and rather intoxicating about plodding through the bush knowing you're in the sights of many wild animals - but in their domain. That's exactly how I was feeling in South Luangwa, Zambia's best known...

Latest User Review
Graeme  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jul 29, 2019
5/5

Game density and diversity are both excellent in the park, with four of the Big Five present as well as hippos, giraffes, greater kudu, spotted hyenas and many other incredible species. The park's vistas over the river are beautiful,...

Full Review