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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is the most famous park in Zambia. Expect to see four of the Big Five here with only rhino being absent. Besides game drives, there are amazing night drives and walking safaris conducted and organized by some of the most experienced guides in Africa. South Luangwa National Park is suitable for both experienced visitors and first-timers. You will find plenty of wildlife in the park. Smaller creatures of the bush and birds can also be seen here.

Scenery

South Luangwa National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in southern part of Africa. Locals like to call it “The Valley” and it is the southern extension of the Great Rift. It is dominated by the Luangwa River. Some of the habitats include acacia shrub, riverine forest, and mopane and miombo woodland.

Wildlife

South Luangwa is ideal for wildlife viewing and four of the Big five can be spotted easily. If you wish to see a leopard, this is one of the best parks to spot these shy cats that can usually be seen during night drives. Elephants are also present, as well as huge herds of buffalos. Expect to see lion and hyena and nocturnal creatures such as porcupine, genet, and bushbaby.

Luangwa Valley is home to a few specials including the Thornicroft giraffe, which is well-known for its intrinsic patterns. Visitors will also have an opportunity to see the Crawshay’s zebra. Cookson’s wildebeest is not easily spotted and there is more chance you will see it in North Luangwa.

Best Time to Visit

The wetter months that run from November to April are also known as the “Emerald Season”. Although the air is fresh and the scenery is remarkable, the conditions for wildlife watching is not ideal. Safaris are more challenging at this time of the year because of the waterlogged roads and extremely hot weather. The best time for spotting wildlife is during the sunnier months from July to September before it gets hot.

May to October –Dry Season

  • It’s a prime wildlife-viewing time because vegetation thins and animals gather around the river.
  • There is plenty of sunshine and little rain.
  • There are fewer mosquitos and the risk of malaria is lower.
  • It can become busy at Mfuwe area where lodges are located.
  • The high season lasts from July to October.
  • The bush is parched and the skies are cloudy.
  • It is cold in the mornings from June to August, so make sure to pack warm clothes.

November to April- Wet Season

  • The air is fresh and the scenery is beautiful and green.
  • Rates are lower and there are fewer tourists.
  • Perfect time for bird-watching
  • Many newborn animals can be spotted.
  • It can get extremely hot and humid.
  • Some lodges don’t work from December to March
  • The risk of Malaria is higher than in the Dry season.
  • It is difficult to drive because some roads are impassable.

Getting There

South Luangwa National Park is located close to the Mfuwe village and 700km/343mi from Lusaka. Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) is the main airport in Zambia and new arrivals often come through this airport.

Regular flights transport passengers from Lusaka to Mfuwe International Airport (MFU). You can also fly to Mfuwe from Livingstone Airport (LVI) (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport), which is located near Victoria Falls. Direct flights from Johannesburg to Mfuwe are offered in the high season.

Visitors who are driving to the park usually come via Chipata. The road is much better than it used to be and the ride takes is two hours long. A 2WD car will just do.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

Check Skyscanner for flights and Expedia for multiple destination flights. This is the best way to find out which airline company offers flights to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) and at what cost.

Domestic Flights

In most cases, charter flights between parks are usually included in the safari package. The tour operator is often in charge of booking the tickets. Proflight is the only domestic carrier and runs up to three flights a day from Lusaka to Mfuwe. This carrier also has regular flights from Livingstone.