Liuwa National Park lies along the Zambezi flood plain in western Zambia and covers an area of 3,600 square kilometres of remote, wildlife-rich wilderness.
The November rains transform its flat grasslands into lush grazing that draws a huge gathering of herbivores, including zebra, tsessebe and up to 30,000 blue wildebeest. Visitors to the park witness a migration of the wildebeest every October to December.
This is a spectacular phenomenon, particularly because getting to Liuwa remains a serious expedition. Synonymous to the park is the Lady Liuwa, the long surviving lion of the Liuwa.
Liuwa Plain National Park is an approximately 1,390-square-mile national park in Zambia’s Western Province. “Liuwa” means “plain” in the local Lozi language, and the plains originally served as a hunting ground for Lubosi Lewanika, the Litunga of the Lozi people.
The area was designated as a protected area by Lubosi Lewanika in the early 1880s and as a national park in 1972, when Zambia’s government took over management.
The non-profit conservation organization African Parks has managed Liuwa in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Barotse Royal Establishment since 2003.
In the dry season, thousands of Wildebeest gather in the North West, grazing their way southwards to await the rains.
Considered by some to be the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa, compared to the Mara-Serengeti Migration, and thought by others not to be a migration at all, this truly is a sight to behold.
Thousands of animals crowded into the expansive flat plains, spreading as far as the eye can see. The wildebeest population has increased from about 15,000 in 2005 to an astonishing 43,000 in 2011, and this is not the only wildlife on the increase.
Red lechwe have risen from 966 to 1,272, zebra from 2,800 to 4,500 and tsessebe have doubled in number, all within the same six years.
The predators here are great too, with prides of aggressive lions, cheeky hyenas, frequent cheetah sightings and even wild dog – evidence that the ecosystem is recovering.
bird life is equally prolific, with 334 recorded species, including many rare and migratory birds that are attracted by the flood plains. The vulnerable crowned crane and wattled crane are found in abundance, sometimes seen in flocks of several hundred and you may also see slaty egret and whiskered tern during the floods.
Between January and April, a huge area of Liuwa Plain is covered in shallow water, great for sightings of herbivores and large numbers of birds.
May to July sees the plains dry up the way they came, receding northwards – the wildlife following them until they reach the woodlands round the edge of the park.
Some wildlife remains, relying on the aforementioned pans that retain the water from the floods. August to October sees the herds moving south into the park again and November to December see the rains, when the park is teeming with game.
Classically November is the best time to visit the park; however, it is for the seriously adventurous. You may have access from April to February via walking and canoeing.
Discover the best hotels in Liuwa Plain National Park including King Lewanika Lodge, Katoyana