North and South Luangwa National Park
South Luangwa National Park is arguably the best wildlife-viewing destination in Zambia. It has several excellent lodges and tented camps, with more budget accommodation available just outside the park at Mfuwe Bridge.
This Mfuwe section of the park gets relatively busy and can sometimes feel a bit touristy. The best options are further north along the Luangwa River, where there’s a mix of mid-range to luxury lodges and mobile camps, many open year-round.
Both parks offer day and night guided game drives and some of the best walking safaris in Africa.
Highlights of a North and South Luangwa Safari
South and North Luangwa are famous for their walking safaris, which are led by expert guides through some of Africa’s best game-viewing territories.
South Luangwa is home to many rare and endemic species, including Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest, and Crawshay’s zebra, and there are plenty of elephants, buffalo, lions, and especially leopards.
In late October, before the start of the rains, thousands of hippos gather in the Luangwa River’s deeper pools – an incredible spectacle as they jostle and fight for space.
Unlike most of Zambia’s parks, many camps in South Luangwa stay open during the rainy season, with boat safaris the major attraction. As the Luangwa River breaks its banks, shallow-draft vessels can navigate into the flooded riverine groves, one of Zambia’s unique safari highlights.
Practical Advice on a North and South Luangwa Safari
- Of all Zambia’s national parks, South Luangwa has the best network of all-weather roads, so both boat and game drive safaris are possible during the rainy season.
- During the dry season, fully-sufficient self-drivers can explore North Luangwa’s rough network of dirt tracks, a wild and beautiful adventure best done in convoy and with some previous 4×4 experience.
- October and November can get brutally hot in the Luangwa Valley, with temperatures well above 40°C/104°F. Walking safaris are not recommended; the best time to walk is between May and September.
- Fly-in North and South Luangwa Safaris are available throughout the year, and package deals booked through reputable agents are often cheaper than going direct to the lodges.