As the name implies, South Luangwa National Park is located along the Luangwa River. 700 Km northeast of Lusaka, it forms the last part of the Great Rift Valley.
The Park covers an astounding 9050 square kilometres.
The area where the present day National Park is found was initially declared a protected area in 1904. It, however, remained neglected and unmaintained until 1938. In May of this very year, three parks were formed: the South Luangwa, the North Luangwa and the Lukusuzi game reserves.
In 1949, a private game reserve, which became known as Nsefu sector, was established by Senior Chief Nsefu on Luangwa’s eastern bank.
Finally, in 1972, all game reserves were converted into National Parks, and the Nsefu sector was absorbed into the South Luangwa Game Reserve to form the South Luangwa National Park.
It can be accessed using two modes of transportation: air, and road. The Mfuwe International Airport is located only about 20 Km away from the park’s main entrance. It is no wonder then that air transportation is preferred to road transportation.
By road, the park can be accessed from Chipata; Petauke, on the great East Road; Mpika, on the Great North Road; or Lundazi. The most recommended route is the one from Chipata, which stretches a distance of 123 Km from the park. The other routes are a big challenge, owing to the bad condition of the roads; and in the rainy season, the muddy roads bog down any vehicle and it is so easy to get stuck.
The park, like the rest of the country consists of three distinct seasons: The rain season, the cold season and the hot dry season.
The rain season runs from November to March. You may not feel compelled to visit during this time due to the obvious reason of transport blues, but, actually, it is one of the best times to actually visit. This is due to the large presence of migrant birds in the area (more on this below). As a bird lover, you obviously wouldn’t want to miss this spectacle.
The cold season runs from around May to August. Of course, snow does not fall, but it does get quite chilly at night.
The dry season, which incorporates the cold season as well, runs from April to October. Safaris and drives are more favourable in this season. With the shortage of water, more animals gather at the dwindling water sources. This in itself makes for a great spectator, especially because the predators take advantage of this to hunt as much as they could. The crocodiles especially make quite a show, lashing out from the water to strike unsuspecting animals.
The South Luangwa National Park is described as one of the greatest wild-life sanctuaries in the world. It has got an astounding concentration of wildlife along the banks (and indeed in) of the Luangwa River. In fact, the Luangwa River is the most intact river system in the whole of Africa. All the animal species that inhabit the area amount to over sixty.
The wild life can be classified into several categories.
There are the herbivores, which are the most plentiful. Their large numbers are due to the large amount and variety of vegetation.
The largest land mammal, the elephant, is easy to spot and roams in herds of up to 70.
The other large mammal which you definitely can’t miss is the Hippo. The Luangwa River and valley has quite a high concentration of hippos—about 50 per square Km.
The antelope deserves special mention due to its abundance. The species of antelope that you will find here are: Reedbuck, Roan, Sable, Hartebeest, Grysbok, Klipspringer, Oribi, Kudu, Puku, Impala, Eland, Duiker and Bushbuck.
Other intriguing herbivores include the Zebra, which occurs in herds of about a dozen; the Buffalo; and the Thornicrafts Giraffe.
The other class of wildlife is the carnivorous class. This is where we find the majestic African Cats—the majestic Lion, the elusive Leopard, and the agile but rare Cheetah. The Leopard, whose population density is about 1 Leopard per square Km, is indeed a sight for sore eyes.
Other significant carnivores include the Crocodile, the Hyena, the Wild dog, the Caracal, the Serval and the rare side striped Jackal.
The South Luangwa National park is also home to a vast number of monkeys, which consist of two types: the Velvet monkey and the Baboon.
A rather remarkable feature of the wildlife is the birds. There are over 400 bird species in the park. During the rainy season (December to March), the place teams with birds, and this is largely due to the arrival of migratory birds from Europe and other parts of Africa during this time. It is truly a bird watcher’s delight. Some of the spectacular birds include the wading birds such as the Water fowl and the elegant crowned Cranes.
South Luangwa is a remote isolated wilderness that affords tourists a real African experience. Apart from the river itself, which is teaming with life, the park also has some oxbow lagoons.
It is a heaven for herbivores because of its vast amount of vegetation. The noticeable vegetation includes the mopane, the leadwood, the winterthorn, the baobab, ebony, ivory palms, marulas, and tamarind trees.
The Luangwa National park is famous for its walking safaris. In fact, walking safaris are known to have originated in the south Luangwa! These safaris are breathtakingly awesome as they allow you to experience the wildness of the game park on a personal level. Furthermore, there is simply no better way of viewing the untamed African wildlife! Don’t worry; there are excellent guides at your service with years of experience to their credit.
The other special feature is the night drive. This allows you to view the nocturnal animals, which you otherwise won’t see during the day. The animals which you might see include the elusive Leopard, so you better keep your eyes open!
Because of its popularity, safari camps and lodges, with the highest possible standards of service have been opened up in the area. There are several camps available, and a company can own more than one at a time. Being found about or in the interior of the park, these excellent lodges may be closed at some times during the wet season if they cannot be accessed due to bad roads.
But not with Mfuwe Lodge!
The lodge is one of the few places in the South Luangwa National Park that stays open during the Green Season. During this time the landscape in the valley changes into a lush green environment that attracts Wildlife.
Mfuwe Lodge is a unique lodge situated in the South Luangwa National Park with 18 luxury en-suite thatched chalets, each with a private decking area that overlooks a lagoon that attracts abundant wildlife and game from the African bush.
Want to book at Mfuwe lodge?
Here are the contact numbers:
Cell Phone: +260 (0) 978770055, Telephone: +260(0) 216246041
Chirundu town is found at about 95 kilometers from Kafue town or 139 kilometers from Lusaka City. Chirundu town is at the border with Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As of 24 February 2017 Chipata became a city, making a total of five cities in Zambia, namely Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola and Livingstone!
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