South Luangwa National Park Budget Travel


About South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa Park is Zambia’s top game viewing destination and one of Africa's greatest wildlife parks.

Fertile South Lungwa is renowned for its natural beauty and seclusion. The Luangwa wilderness area is also known for its superb wildlife density and high quality guiding, as well as being the place where walking safaris were pioneerd.

This wild Zambian game park encompasses of a unique type of habitat, rarely found elsewhere in Africa. South Luangwa is home to about 60 animal species and 420 different bird species.

South Luangwa Park Facts and Figures

Established as a game reserve in 1938, Luangwa became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9050 km². 

The South Luangwa National Park is considered one of Africa’s remaining ecologically unspoilt wilderness areas. Of the three Zambian game parks located in the Luangwa Valley at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, South Luangwa is the most popular and accessible game park.

The meandering Luangwa River has created a number of oxbow lagoons over time, adding to the spectacular natural setting of this unique African wildlife destination. 

The game park lies at a relatively low altitude, experiencing slightly higher temperatures than the rest of Zambia

South Luangwa National Park mostly consists of seasonal floodplains and woodlands (Miombo and Mopane), as well as the numerous oxbow lagoons.

South Luangwa Highlights

  • Considered the best game reserve for game viewing on foot, accompanied by armed rangers.
  • World-renowned wildlife haven boasting some of the highest concentrations of game, around the Luangwa River and lagoons.
  • The park is well-known for large herds of elephants, up to 70 strong.
  • An abundance of buffalo and several antelope species are found throughout the game park.  
  • Hippos and crocodiles are prolific, in and around the river and lagoons (up to 500 hippos in a pod during the dry season).
  • A species of zebra peculiar to Luangwa can be sighted throughout the national park.
  • Superb bird watching with over 400 bird species.
  • Seasonal floodplains attracting an impressive diversity of wildlife, as well as many reptiles, insects and amphibians.
  • A totally unique African wildlife experience, where visitors are truly immersed in the scenic bush habitat. 
  • Reputed to host the highest concentration of leopard in Africa, offering excellent sightings. 
  • Thornicroft's Giraffe, unique to the Luangwa Valley.

In the early mornings and late afternoons elephants, impala, puku, baboons, crocodiles, hippos and flocks of water birds are frequently sighted all at once!

South Luangwa National Park Activities

  • One of Africa's best-known national parks for walking safaris.
  • One of the few national parks to permit spotlt night drives in Africa.
  • Game drives in 4x4 safari vehicles with expert guides.
  • Wildlife photography and bird watching from secluded hides.
  • Visit a local Zambian village and a community run textile project.

Location of South Luangwa National Park

Located in eastern Zambia, Luangwa Park is the southernmost of three national parks in the Luangwa Valley. The game park covers the most fertile part of the valley floor, between the winding Luangwa River and the steep Muchinga Escarpment to the west. South Luangwa National Park is at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, south of Lake Tanganyika, the longest freshwater lake in the world.

Just over 400 miles (644km) from Zambia's capital, Lusaka, South Luangwa is a remote game park offering an off-the-beaten-track East African wildlife experience.

Luangwa can be broadly split into three sections - the central, northern and southern parts.

The central area hosts the highest concentration of wildlife and is the most visited part of the game park. The more remote northern part of South Luangwa is home to an abundance of game and is a good area for game walking safaris. The less accessible southern Luawfa Area is the most remote, but also offers top-class walking safaris. Here the Luangwa Valley is at its narrowest, with the rift escarpment and the Luangwa River coming closer together.

South Luangwa National Park Climate - When to Go to South Luangwa 

The dry season in South Luangwa is from April to early November. Animals tend to congregate at scarce water sources during the dry months, improving the game viewing opportunities.

October is the hottest month, when game concentrations are highest. If you plan to take a walking safari visit from June to October, when the walking safaris are conducted.

Warm sunny days and chilly nights are typical in the dry winter months of May to August. 

The wet season begins in November and lasts until late March, transforming the wilderness area into a lush jungle. During the rainy season the game park attracts flocks of migrant birds. In November and December the first occasional rain showers begin and this is when most animals produce their young. The early rainy season is an exceptional period for game watching, as the vegetation is still low and thin enough for good visibility and many young animals can be sighted.

South Luangwa National Park Wildlife

The park is renowned for its large population of leopards, commonly seen on the night game drives, as well as large herds of elephant and buffalo often reaching up to several hundred strong. The Luangwa River is home to an abundance of hippo and crocodile.

In South Luangwa National Park, lions are commonly seen and it is the only place in the world where these big cats are known to kill hippos. Lion prides of up to 20 individuals can often be sighted! In addition to leopards and lions, South Lungwa's predators include spotted hyenas and wild dogs. Although initially uncommon, endangered African Wild Dog numbers have been growing in recent years, and therefore sightings have increased (particularly around February to May).

Wildlife species indigenous to South Luangwa Park, include large populations of Thornicroft's Giraffe, Crawshay's Zebra and the Cookson’s Wildebeest. 

Of the game park's 14 different antelope species, the most numerous are impala and puku antelopes. Impala are very adaptable antelopes that browse and graze and the puku are a rivirine antelope species. The rare white impala is also found in South Luangwa, as are Greater Kudu and waterbuck. 

Among the 400 bird species that make this Zambian game park a bird watching haven, are 47 migrating bird species from Europe and Russia, the sacred ibis, saddle bill and yellow bill storks, crested cranes and long-tailed starlings, as well as birds of prey such as Steppeand Fish Eagles and Buzzards.


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