​User Reviews – South Luangwa NP

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Paul Sivley   –  
United States US
Visited: May 2017 Reviewed: Jun 9, 2017

Email Paul Sivley  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Overall rating

see above

West Tribe   –  
Canada CA
Visited: November 2016 Reviewed: Apr 29, 2017

Email West Tribe  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Amazing and affordable.
Overall rating

There are innumerable advantages that South Luangwa National Park hold above the local competition, not least of which is the affordability of the surrounding lodges. I arrived from Lusaka via local bus for about 40.00$, another 25.00$ taxi fare got me to my lodge (flat dogs) and 20.00$/night secured me a cabin with 2 bedrooms, 4 beds, A/C, fans and a shower. Another 40.00$/game drive, night or day + 20.00$/day park entry fee and that pretty much covered my expense. Food at the lodges tends to be expensive (15.00$ - 25.00$) however a quick excursion to town will allow you to soak in some local atmosphere and eat at local restaurants for about 1.00$ a meal. The wildlife is by no means confined to the park, I often opened the front door to my cabin to find elephants standing within 20 meters, hippos, banded mongooses, giraffes, grey crowned cranes, fish eagles, vervet monkeys and baboons are all frequent visitors to the lodge and the list goes on. The park itself was great, absolutely packed with fantastic wildlife, one of the few to offer spotlight game drives at night and not too crowded. For some photos of the park feel free to view - https://www.flickr.com/photos/84579258@N06/albums/72157676475945555

Owen Shaffer   –  
Kenya KE
Visited: September 2015 Reviewed: Feb 25, 2017

Email Owen Shaffer

Close to being the finest National Park in Africa
Overall rating

South Luangwa National Park is one of the very finest National Parks in Africa .It's superb in every way; the scenery is beautiful and varied, there are huge amounts of wildlife, the night drives are superb,and so is walking.
It also has a superb wilderness vibe. The guiding is uniformly excellent. Many of the camps have a superb bush feel to them. I've already been there three times,furthermore,I'll be returning again next year.

Tris Enticknap   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October 2016 Reviewed: Nov 7, 2016

Email Tris Enticknap

A memorable experience in every way
Overall rating

This was our first trip to South Luangwa, indeed our first to Zambia having usually visited Tanzania. We stayed at the Shenton camps - Kaingo and Mwamba and they were absolutely perfect. Small and very friendly with wonderful food, great accommodation and very knowledgeable staff and guides. We were collected from the airport and had a very enjoyable 'safari' to the first camp. We were blessed with good weather all the time we were there and enjoyed our twice (sometimes three) daily game drives from completely open vehicles which was very welcome as we are photographers with long lenses. The park is very well managed and maintained, and the wildlife sightings were phenomenal. Thanks to our brilliant guide/driver, we had 24 separate leopard sightings,and were fortunate enough to see the Pel's Fishing Owl several times. As for the Carmine Bee-eaters - well!! We thoroughly enjoyed our time in South Luangwa and will most definitely be returning.

tulsigaddam   –  
Zambia ZM
Visited: June 2016 Reviewed: Oct 14, 2016

Email tulsigaddam

South Luangwa: Beautiful place and Amazing wildlife
Overall rating

South Luangwa is my favorite national park. The accommodations are terrific and the wild life is amazing. I have been there over 4 times now, and it has never failed to be an amazing experience. The guides have so much knowledge about the park and the wildlife sitings are great in number, leopards, lions and hyenas being the most seen. The park is very beautiful and the sunsets are always so breathtaking. There are so many animals and birds, and it really is one of the best holiday destinations out there.

atkiteach   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: August 2016 Reviewed: Oct 9, 2016

Email atkiteach

The most outstanding safari destination in the world.
Overall rating

We travelled to South Luangwa National Park in August. We'd only been on safari once before - at a private reserve in South Africa. We'd asked our travel agency for the best safari experience and they said South Luangwa was it... and we can't disagree.

We stayed in two bush camps: Nsolo, a Norman Carr camp, and Lion Camp. Both were great! Staff couldn't do enough for us, the game drives were amazing and the guides' knowledge was encyclopaedic! Nsolo was smaller, more personal and more luxurious; Lion Camp was bigger but in a more rich area of the national park. However, if you're going for 5 star luxury - don't go to South Luangwa - this place is all abut the game, which is wonderful!

Let's face it, if you;re looking at South Luangwa, you're after great game sightings. It will not disappoint. A co-traveller has safaried across Africa for the last 20 years and said he'd never, ever experienced anything like South Luangwa; at a later stop, Sindebezi Island near Livingstone, we were speaking to a traveller who'd just been on a two week walking and river safari in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia (south) who, on hearing what we'd seen, said "Well, that's it - you can't go on safari again as nothing will compare to that". That's how great South Luangwa is.

I can't tell you everything we saw - the list would be far too long - but here's heavily edited highlights:

On our first night (Nsolo), we were sitting around the campfire after a delicious dinner when a staff member noticed some lions. Immediately, the truck was started up and we piled in. Barely two minutes later, we were sat watching a lion and lioness enjoying the moonlight... literally 3 metres from our bed! Suddenly, the armed guard who escorts you to and from your accommodation during the dark didn't seem overly cautious.
During the night, we had the best worst-night's-sleep ever. The sounds of the bush woke us delightfully often, including the resident hippo pod which lives right next to the camp and come out at night to graze around the edge of the camp.
My wife is a sucker for animal babies, so seeing hyena cubs, only a few weeks old, was amazing.
At Lion Camp, we saw, obviously, many sightings of the two prides which live nearby, including finding them lazing on the road just waking up after a night's feed. We sat in the middle of the pride, feeling like we were a little part of it rather than just observers. My lion highlight was seeing the full pride in a stand off with some painted dogs. Another was seeing a lioness move her 5 day old cubs from one nest to another: they were so young, their eyes were not open yet, and the tenderness with which she moved them in those huge, powerful jaws was stunning.
If you love elephants, you'll love South Luangwa. It seems like they're around every corner - and they're not afraid to let you know when you;re too close. We were mock-charged three times... but we never felt unsafe.
One thing we'd hoped for was seeing a leopard. We were not to be disappointed! Over 5 days at Lion Camp, we had 7 - seven - sightings, from glimpses in the night to sitting watching two different leopards in trees during the day. At one point, we were so close I asked the guide if it was purring - it wasn't: it was growling at us! We moved of sharpish. Another night sighting was wonderful - we'd seen the leopard at a distance and our guide swung the car round, went through undergrowth trying to second guess where it would head, and we were rewarded with it coming out of the undergrowth just to our side and making its way across the front of the car so close that, when in front, you couldn't see it over the bonnet.

For birders, which we are not, South Luangwa is wonderful. Some fellow travellers were birders and we caught a bit of the bug from their enthusiasm. Bee eaters and violet breasted rollers were my favourites, but the various eagles and vultures are spectacular in their size. We were even treated to a long, uninterrupted sight of Pel's fishing owl - something we appreciated but not fully until it was explained to us that this rarity is similar to seeing to a leopard.

Overall, if you love wildlife, if you love safari and if you want the greatest experience you've ever had, book for South Luangwa today.

Pim   –  
Netherlands NL
Visited: May 2016 Reviewed: May 31, 2016

Email Pim  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

One-week photo safari/workshop in Mfuwe/South Luangwa
Overall rating

I spent a week in the Mfuwe area of South Luangwa under the wings of lodge owner/bushguide and wildlife photographer Peter Geraerdts of Track and Trail River Camp.

The Camp is located on the other bank of the Luangwa, just outside the Park's Mfuwe gate.
We stuck to a 'first in, last out' policy: arriving at the gate for our morning drives just before six, and trying to leave the Park at 8pm sharp. Regime was strict: morning drive until 10:00-10:30, early lunch, and afternoon/evening drive from 15:30 or 16:00 through 20:00, followed by dinner around 20:30.

I've been around SA, Namibia, Kenya and Uganda, but Zambia was a first-time visit. A few (online) friends had recommmended South Luangwa, time to find out for myself!
It's a long trip (Amsterdam-Nairobi, Nairobi-Lusaka, couple of hours off to a hotel then Lusaka-Mfuwe), but worth it. Door-to-door is probably just under a full day, but the lack of time difference cuts out jetlag at least...

Transfer from Mfuwe to the Lodge was a painless <40m exercise, over remarkably good (tarred) roads. The Lodge/Camp is situated right on the bank of the Luangwa, with pool/gym/massage/spa facilities, as well as a bar, restaurant and small library.
I was assigned a spacious thatched chalet with a comfy double bed, large bathroom and safety features for both my valuables/documents (small safe) and my photo gear (a padlocked strongbox). Food was good to excellent, with 3-course lunches and dinners every day. Good pastry as well, with always a slice of something waiting for me at tea time. The Camp feature daily laundry service, and had reasonable wifi coverage in the bar/restaurant area.

My goal for this trip was twofold: a week-long safari in a park and country yet unknown to me, as well as improving my wildlife photography skills. Peter proved to be the ideal host: his fauna and flora knowledge is remarkable and perhaps even better than some of the native guides I worked with, and he's a skilled and patient photography teacher.

Our safari vehicle was not your regular open 4X4: it was heavily modified for the (pro) wildlife photographer... The rear section of the car features heavy steel swivel arms with beanbags and ballhead mounting space on the sides, supplemented with more beanbags in front and at the back. This effectively gave me a 360-degree line of sight with steady support for even the longest piece of glass...

Both of my goals were met: my skills have tangibly improved, with a couple of impressing shots as evidence, and I got to sample most of South Luangwa's flora and fauna.
More on the latter: the floral diversity was impressive, ranging from monumental Baobabs to wild jasmin, from nile cabbage to the intriguing ansellia. A remarkable amount of sausage trees in the area, bearing some of the largest fruits I've seen...

The fauna is probably why most people come and visit, and I was not disappointed... Both of the big cats (with 4 leopard sightings in just two drives!), a large group of wild dogs, heaps of elephant, a small herd of buffalo, and much, much more. My timing was just right to come across fighting grazers: we saw some impressive male impala and zebra battles!
Crocs, water monitors and hippos are abundant thanks to the river, with the latter two incidentally paying a visit to the lodge. The smaller mammals were well-represented: we saw 5 species of mongoose, 'caught' both civet and genet up close, young porcupine, spotted honey badgers twice(!), and ran into the accidental shrew or shrub hare during our night drives.

I'm not a 'hardcore' birder, so haven't recorded every sighting, but we must have easily seen 100-120 different species. Ranging from raptors (bateleur, tawny, snake eagle, martial eagle, lizard buzzard, goshawk, ...) to storks (open-billed, woolly-necked, yellow-billed, marabou) to herons (my first decent shot of a squacco) to the more colourful birds like rollers, sunbirds and - especially near the river banks - bee-eaters.

Payam Mazloum   –  
Canada CA
Visited: December 2015 Reviewed: May 17, 2016

Email Payam Mazloum  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

The park of never ending experiences
Overall rating

I have traveled to this park over 20 different times over the last 10 years and really that should say it all!
Every time I go without a doubt I experience something new. This attests to the diversity of the park and the general quality of the guides available.
As a photographer, this is the park in which I have captured my most amazing shots! (Google Payam Mazloum Photography to see for yourselves).
As for accommodations, depending on how much you are willing to spend, there is a large variety of quality locations, but regardless of where you stay, the safari experience will be consistently amazing.

Shivakumar   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: April 2016 Reviewed: Apr 27, 2016

Email Shivakumar  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

One of my best safari experiences ever!
Overall rating

Considering the fact that i had arrived at the end of the wet season, i did not expect to see too many animals. My main objective was to enjoy the lush scenery which i had not witnessed in this area of Africa before. We had barely reached camp and we saw elephants trundling quietly through the bush. When we reached camp, i was greeted with a stunning view of the Luangwa river. It was filled with hippos and i even saw a huge crocodile floating with the current as if it was a log. There were vervet monkeys and birds of all varieties inside our camp so i was amazed at how rich this area was for flora and fauna. I even saw pugmarks of big cats around the edges of our campsite. Indicating just how close we were to the African wilderness. This campsite was facing the national park, which was just a few hundred feet away across the river. We were amazed to see hippos climbing out of the river at dusk and come into our camping grounds! They stay closer to shore until we are all inside our tents, and then they can be heard munching grass right next to our tents! A hair raising experience for sure. The next day we went on two game drives, one of which was at night. And we saw so many animals that it was almost impossible to keep a track of all of them. We saw elephants, zebra, monitor lizards, all sorts of birds, lions, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, puku, impala, warthogs to name a few. We were lucky to get very close to some lions who posed for our cameras on trees. There was also an interaction between a hyena and lion, where the hyena unknowingly walked right up to a young male lion and then bolted for its life. But the real highlight was 4 separate leopard sightings on the evening drive! The first sighting was at dusk as we watched a leopard attempting to catch an impala. It got to within twenty five feet but still did not pounce. The Impala suddenly saw it and gave off its alarm call. The leopard stood up and walked off with its tail raised high. The other three sightings were in the night. In one instance we were watching a leopard relaxing next to a bush, when suddenly a huge lion appeared a hundred yards away roaring. The leopard disappeared in a flash. Even our safari guide was shocked and said he had never seen so many big cats during a wet season drive. At least for me, South Luangwa had lived up to its reputation for being the best leopard spotting game park in Africa. There were no rhinos here, though our guide told us it was only a temporary thing. And that they planned to reintroduce them into the park in the future. Another great selling point for South Luangwa was the relative isolation of the place. We never had more than two or three safari jeeps around an animal sighting at any one time. I have been to some of the more famous parks in other African countries, and you can easily have up to twenty vehicles around a popular animal. Our camp was more than good enough for me. Hot showers available at any time, good toilets, clothes washing basins, swimming pool, well stocked bar and plenty of space. It was also good to see electric plug points placed around the campsite. Safari jeeps picked us up from right next to our tents and dropped us back in the same place. Overall i was left feeling very satisfied with my experience here.

Alberto Rametta   –  
Italy IT
Visited: October 2015 Reviewed: Dec 29, 2015

Email Alberto Rametta  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

A surprising experience
Overall rating

This is not my first time in Africa: from 2009 I visited Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ethiopia, so I have a little of experience on safaris and natural park. What we found and saw in South Luangwa National Park was a "surprising experience" as I wrote in the title, because wildlife, scenery, our guide and the accomodation went over my expectation.
For the first time in Africa I saw lions hunting buffalos, just meters from our car (I know, there is a big part of luck in that ...), a lot of leopards, a lot of herbivores, not forgetting elephants and ippos.
We enjoy so much also "the walking safari" also if I was afraid before to go, but the experience of our guide (unluckly I forgot the name) made it only a pleasant walk.
Also the accomodation at Croc Valley Camp was excellent: nice cottages in the middle of the bush and a nice restaurant, and you know how italians are demaning on food.
Hope this short text could explain our satisfaction to stay at South Luangwa National Park and a great thank to our tour operator Africa Wild Truck from Blantyre (Malawi) who supported us in Zambia.
Alberto Rametta

Average User Rating

  • 4.8/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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