South Luangwa National Park in Zambia

South Luangwa National Park

Experience the magnificence of South Luangwa National Park in eastern Zambia, described as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world and a top safari accommodation destination in Africa. The healthy Luangwa River cuts through the 9 059 square km South Luangwa National Park, feeding life into diverse habitats. See spectacular wildlife gathering along the banks, around the oxbow lagoons and in the fantastic vegetation. Stay in top-class safari camps, walk and game drive.

Luangwa History Stories

South Luangwa National Park was initially created as Luangwa Game Reserve in 1904 with the help of dedicated British conservationist, Norman Carr.  Founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972.

Carr was a man who had the courage to step away from traditional safaris of hunting trophy animals with guns to promote tourism based on conservation and photography, walking safaris and inspiration in nature. In fact, the famous walking safari originated right here, thanks to his dedication as a game ranger in the 1940s which saved the park’s integrity from mass tourism.  

In the 1950s, he persuaded the Paramount Chief to set aside a portion of tribal land as a Game Reserve and built the first game viewing camp open to the public in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Profits from this remote photographic camp in the bush went back into the community. 

Did you know?

South Luangwa National Park is so wild and so inaccessible that the masses do not come here and chase the Big 5 – this park is loved by true safari experts, wildlife lovers and walkers who want to immerse themselves in nature.


  • A superb destination for birders with all the water around – waterbirds wade in the dry season, and then the migrants arrive from Europe and Africa as the warm rains come.
  • Entering the park, you will first see hippos galore, in pods of 30 to 70 – there are about 50 hippos per every kilometre of the River!
  • The awe-inspiring Luangwa River is a vast body of water that meanders through lush vegetation including huge old Natal and Red Mahoganies, African Ebony trees and Baobabs too. 
  • Walking safaris are what make the park what it is today – these can be short or they can be about three hours long, or they can take a few days as guests walk from camp to camp, on true wilderness trails. 

Family Holidays to South Luangwa National Park

Take your family on an authentic wilderness trail in the famous South Luangwa National Park for an unforgettable nature education experience. Take your children on walking trails to see the Big 5 and get close to hippos and antelope herds.   

A few days in the Luangwa are refreshing, educational and active too – quite a thrill for families and friends who want to be out in a wild Zambian landscape with a river flowing through it. 

We show you top-of-the-range safari lodges, roadside cabins and bush camps in this region where children will feel in awe and want to explore. Try an organised family holiday tour with a guide when you book a Voyage2Africa package to make life easier and we will ensure you enjoy many activities along the way.

The Lovely Luangwa Valley

Glory in the beauty of the Luangwa Valley, marking the end of the Great Rift Valley, where dense populations of wildlife roam. One of the remaining unspoilt wilderness areas in Zambia, it is also known as the ‘Valley of the Leopard’. Look out for these elusive cats who love sausage trees and the thick mopane forests. In fact, South Luangwa boasts the highest density of leopards globally! 

South Luangwa National Park is the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River, a world-renowned wildlife haven which is known to locals simply as “the South Park.” Concentrations of game along the meandering Luangwa River and its lagoons are amongst the most intense in Africa. 

The river teems with hippos and crocodiles 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. It supports large populations of Thornicroft’s giraffe, and herds of elephants and Cape buffaloes often several hundred strong. Walking safaris are a focal point here.  

The Muchinga Escarpment in Muchinga and Central Provinces forms the park’s western or north-western boundary, sloping down from there to the river, lying mostly on its western bank. This huge barrier stops many species from passing through and is a haven for hartebeest, sable and roan antelope.

A Wealth of Wildlife in Zambia

From the minute you enter South Luangwa National Park, you see dense concentrations of game, hypnotic interactions between predators and prey, astonishing birds and fascinating reptiles. Large pods of hippos wallow all along the lush river while healthy herds of elephants come down to drink at the Luangwa River’s edge too.

Impala and Puku are common sightings and most guests are lucky to see predators like energetic African wild dogs, regal lions, and stealthy leopards. Unique animal sightings include Zambia’s very own Crawshay’s zebra herds, shy bushbuck and stately kudu, with its spiral horns and queenly face. Birders go mad for the 400 species of birds in the park, including 39 birds of prey!

When To Visit Luangwa

The peak travel season for South Luangwa safaris is May to October when things are still pleasantly cool and dry. The best time to spot game is September and October, very hot and humid. Go birding in the rainy or green season, January to April, though some lodges close. March to June is the best time to spot the elusive African wild dog. 

The Best Of The Best Safaris to South Luangwa National Park

Plan a Zambian tour and safari with Voyage2Africa, the African travel experts, and enjoy signature experiences to premier wildlife destinations south of the equator. We bring you thrilling adventures in the infinite spaces of the South Luangwa National Park. Choose a rustic wilderness camp or luxury bush lodges with comfy amenities and get ready to explore more of Zambia soon. We offer you some of the best accommodations and special packages in the South Luangwa National Park to expand your holiday in true African style.

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