Liuwa Plain National Park
One of Zambia’s most remote national parks, Liuwa Plain, lies west of the upper Zambezi River, close to the border with Angola. It’s made up of vast grasslands with a smattering of pans, dotted here and there with palms and clumps of Kalahari woodland.
As with much of northern Zambia, large areas of the park are flooded during the rainy season (December to April), and even in the drier winter months, it’s difficult to reach and explore.
Those who can find a way there often feel like they have the entire park to themselves. With its abundant wildlife, panoramic views, and genuinely low visitor numbers, Liuwa Plain exudes tranquility and a sense of total, magical isolation.
Highlights of Liuwa Plains National Park in Zambia
Liuwa Plains most prominent single attraction is its annual Blue wildebeest migration. Comprising an estimated 40,000 animals or more, it’s the second-largest of its kind in the world.
The migration takes place around November each year as rising water levels force the herds southeast in search of fresh grazing. Liuwa Plains birdlife is another major draw, with some of its pans holding water year-round.
These pans attract a surprisingly large variety of species, including marabou and saddle-billed storks, spoonbills, and herons, plus a noteworthy bird rarely found in groups elsewhere – the Slaty egret. Another notable highlight is the hyena population. Estimated at around 600, they take the top spot as Liuwa’s apex predator.
Practical Advice for a Liuwa Plain Safari
- The best time to visit Liuwa Plain National Park for holiday is in November, when the wildebeest migration starts to gather steam. It’s also the last chance to catch the best game viewing before the ensuing rains render the network of dirt tracks impassable.
- The park is closed to self-drive travellers between December and May, with wet-season access by fly-in Zambia safaris only. Accommodation is limited to one very luxurious lodge, which operates most of the year, and a handful of basic seasonal campsites dotted along the wildebeest migration route. Permits (and a map of the park’s 4×4 network) are available from the town of Kalabo, south of the park.