​Overview – South Luangwa NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip has traveled through Zambia several times and is the author of more than 20 guidebooks to various African destinations.

Philip is the Zambia expert for SafariBookings and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Philip is our Zambia expert and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s most popular park. And for good reason too. Four of the Big Five are easily seen (only rhino is missing). This is where walking safaris originated and there is still no better place to experience the bush on foot. Be prepared for some thrilling wildlife encounters while following in the footsteps of Africa’s pioneering safari guides.

Best Time to Go July to October (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
  • Game drives, night drives and walking safaris offered
  • Lots of accommodation options
  • The sky gets very hazy in the Dry season
  • The Mfuwe area gets very busy

South Luangwa NP Safari Reviews

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

Wildlife

Also known as the ‘valley of the leopard’, South Luangwa has one of the highest leopard densities in Africa. If you don’t see one of these agile climbers resting in a tree in the daytime, your guide will probably track one down at night. Big herds of buffalo kick up dust as they roam the savannah, and you’ll enjoy watching elephants drinking and bathing in the river.

Scenery

The meandering Luangwa River is the lifeline of the park. This impressive waterway reduces to a mosaic of floodplains, pools and oxbow lagoons in the Dry season, providing much-needed water throughout the year. Open grassy plains are mixed with woodland and acacia shrub. The Muchinga escarpment creates a scenic backdrop to this beautiful valley.

Weather & Climate

It’s hot in South Luangwa throughout the year, but nights are cooler in the Dry season (May to October) during the 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 is best for spotting animals – especially July to October. If you visit South Luangwa during the wetter months (November to April), you’ll understand why this is called the ‘Emerald season’: beautiful, lush scenery and clear skies.

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
Expert
Alan Murphy  –  
Australia AU

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

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...

Full Review

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