Covering a vast area measuring 9,050 square kilometres, the park has huge concentrations of wildlife. The Luangwa River meanders through the park providing life to the various flora and fauna in the area.
In the dry season, the water areas are definite places for spotting wildlife. South Luangwa is accessible by air through Mfuwe International Airport, one hour flight from Lusaka. Road access is via Chipata in the Eastern Province.
South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia, the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River, is a world-renowned wildlife haven.
Concentrations of game along the meandering Luangwa River and its lagoons are amongst the most intense in Africa. The river teems with hippo and crocodile and provides a lifeline for one of the greatest diversities of habitat and wildlife, supporting more than 60 species of mammals and over 400 species of birds.
The birding is spectacular here, with over 400 species, especially in the ‘emerald season’ when the summer migrants feast on an abundance of food and the amount of water found everywhere is fantastic for herons, egrets and storks.
There is a colony of iridescent bee-eaters that nest in the holes of sandy riverbanks and, during the rainy season, huge breeding of yellow billed storks in the Nsefu sector.
South Luangwa National Park is also famous for its large hippo pods that live easy in the river and lagoons in the company of crocodiles.
Poaching had a major effect on the amount of elephants found here, but they are now in herds hundreds strong, amongst buffalo and several antelope species, such as impala and puku.
There is also the striking Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshays Zebra. There is no shortage of predators here with large prides of lion being a common sighting, the spotted hyena are strong here too and there is a population of wild dog that, although not commonly seen, seems to have more and more sightings every year. The park is great for spotting leopard too as you are able to scour the dark for them on exciting night drives.
Known as the home of the walking safari, it is here that the first ones took place over fifty years ago, and they are just as exciting as ever today.
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of Africa like never before in the search of Zambia’s wildlife, large, small, friendly or ferocious. With few open spaces, this is the perfect area to explore by foot.
Staying under the cover of the bush reduces the likelihood of scaring off any potential wildlife as you track them via their footprints, dung or other evidence.
Boat safaris are fantastic in the emerald season; a thrilling yet relaxed float down the river, weaving through hippo pods and crocodiles is not to be missed and you can also embark on birding safaris and day and night drives.
Where to stay
Bilimungwe Bush camp, South Luangwa
Set amongst the tall winter thorn and natal trees, Bilimungwe Bush camp is surrounded by wildlife and is a real nature lover’s paradise.
The rooms and dining areas overlook one of three water holes, frequented by warthog, impala, puku and baboons – meaning fantastic game viewing before you have left the premises.
The camp is cosy, fantastically remote and surround by a real variety of landscape; pretty stretches of riverine woodland, lots of open ‘dambos’ and then there is the thick miombo woodlands.
Chamilandu Bush camp, Luangwa River
The Chamilandu Bush camp offers accommodation perched on 2 metre high stilts, overlooking the Luangwa River, with the Nchindeni Hills providing the perfect backdrop.
The camp is wonderfully authentic and elegant, kept cool by African Ebony trees. The area provides very wild and varied landscapes, from open floodplains to riverine forest; meaning a huge diversity in the wildlife.
The camp takes great pride in offering fantastic service, luxury and comfort to provide a wonderfully authentic and private experience.
Chikoko Trails, South Luangwa
Chikoko Trails exists in the form of two intimate private camps in South Luangwa National Park; Chikoko Tree Camp and Crocodile River Camp. Follow the footsteps of David Livingstone himself as you track the regular elephant and hippo trails that join the camps.
There are no roads here and camps are only accessible by foot, hence no vehicles and with a limit of 6 guests in each camp you are guaranteed to steer clear of any the hustle and bustle from the ‘real world’.
These camps are ideal for adventure enthusiasts keen for a little more involvement than can be achieved with a game drive. Walking through these natural and isolated surroundings cannot be beaten.
Chindeni Bush camp, South Luangwa
Chindeni Bush camp is a luxury lodge and well furnished, despite this it keeps to a minimalistic and contemporary style unlike many lodges around Africa.
The main lodge is a split level deck cleverly built around an old ebony tree, providing shade alongside a real bush feel. Overlooking Chayumba Lagoon the camp offers a lush and wide permanent water source for the local wildlife.
Watch in safe luxury from your very own private deck as the elephants wallow and hippos frolic in the lagoon and let your sense of adventure ignite as you sleep under canvas, figuring out what is making each distinct sound. The camp has fantastic views and is abundant with wildlife.
Kaingo Camp, South Luangwa National Park
Overlooking the Luangwa River lies the unobtrusive and uncommercial Kaingo Camp. The relaxed and personal atmosphere makes you feel right at home, despite being in such a wild and remote location.
The area is rich in game as well as having a high number of predators and the camp truly comes alive at night, with bats and owls, hyenas whooping and the odd leopard grunt.
The guiding is second to none and the camp provides animal watching hides for observation and some great photographic opportunities of animals in their natural habitats.
The camp is simplistic and practical in layout, with a stylish design and unique touches, such as homemade soaps and textiles.
Kakuli Camp, South Luangwa National Park
Whether you use Kakuli Camp as part of a walking safari or as a base from which to explore the South Luangwa National Park you will not be disappointed with the wildlife viewing in the area.
The five safari tents all have views over the hippo packed Luangwa and Luwi Rivers. Each tent is pitched under the shade of a thatched roof and all have an open air en-suite bathroom.
The thatched communal area is on a platform with views across the grazing lawn leading down to the two rivers. This is a perfect place to relax and watch the animals going about their daily lives. Breakfasts are served around the open fire giving Kakuli a true Bush feel.
Kapamba Bush camp, South Luangwa
In a secluded and somewhat untouched corner of the South Luangwa National Park, in a region of prolific wildlife, lies Kapamba Bush camp.
This small and intimate camp is set in a stunning location, amongst the matumi and sausage trees, on the banks of the spring-fed Kapumba River, a tributary of Luangwa River.
With spectacular views of the picturesque landscape surrounding it, the camp offers great game viewing opportunities and has a high concentration of lions. The chalets have a real remote and romantic feel, with fully open fronts.
Deck areas and baths that can be used as plunge pools they are so large – perfect for a night admiring the stars!
Kapani Lodge, South Luangwa Valley
Kapani Lodge is set on one of many oxbow lakes on the Luangwa River in South Luangwa Valley and is one of the more exclusive lodges accommodating 20 guests.
There are 8 suites each with ensuite facilities and their own lounge area and then there a further 2 “lagoon houses” which are more spacious and with private views.
The Lagoon Houses are ideal for honeymoon couples or guests looking for a bit more privacy. The main thatched area houses the lounge and library and is pleasantly cool during the heat of the day and is warmed by an open fire during the cooler winter nights.
The bar and dining area have fantastic views across the lagoon and grazing lawn. Some guests choose to remain in camp rather than go on game drives, just to see what animals happen to stroll into or past camp! This camp has amazing game viewing year round.
Kuyenda Bush camp, South Luangwa
Combining modern luxuries with the isolated bush, Kuyenda Bush camp has a truly authentic feel, rustic in style with no unnecessary extras – a real old style safari experience.
The camp is run by Babette Alfieri and Phil Berry, one of Zambia’s best guides with over 40 years’ experience in the bush. The camp and the service you receive exude charms and warmth resulting in a wonderfully intimate atmosphere as soon as you arrive. There is plenty of wildlife around; in fact just walking around the camp is like a game safari!
Luangwa Safari House, South Luangwa Valley
Luangwa Safari House, South Luangwa Valley, is a luxury private safari house for a maximum of 8 guests and is ideal for a family safari.
The four large en-suite bedrooms, huge dining area, private decking and plunge pool provide for the utmost comfort; this is only added to by your own private kitchen chef, vehicles, guides and armed scouts for your walking safaris!
This is the perfect retreat for families (min age 7) groups of friends or incentive groups.
Luwi Bush camp, South Luangwa National Park
Luwi Bush camp takes its name from a nearby river, which is mainly a dried up sandbank throughout the year, the river was actually named after a Zambian chief, Chief Lubi (pronounced Luwi). Due to its remoteness within South Luangwa National Park the activities offered by Luwi Bush Camp are focussed around walking safaris.
The concentrations of animals in the area are prolific and to track them on foot each day is a memory never to be forgotten. The 4 grass and thatch huts lends the camp a rustic appeal and provides a truly African experience.
The bar area is the only covered communal area meaning that day time meals are served under the shade of the trees and evening meals are served under the blanket of the African stars accompanied by the sounds of the African bush.
The large lagoon adjacent to the camp is a wildlife magnet, being the only permanent source of water, and is always swimming with hippos and crocodiles.
Mchenja Bush camp, South Luangwa
Mchenja means “ebony” which is fitting as this camp is set amongst a grove of these magnificent trees on the banks of the Luangwa River in the South Luangwa Valley National Park.
In an area teeming with wildlife, Mchenja Bush camp is one of the most luxurious camps you will find in Zambia; each of the five luxury tents is set under its own thatched roof with a deck with fantastic panoramic views of the river.
The tents have an inside bathroom with an outside shower allowing you to watch the animals go by whilst showering.