• Hippo, Zambia

Highlights and main attractions of North Luangwa National Park

Highlights and main attractions of North Luangwa National Park

Slightly smaller than South Luangwa National Park at 4,636 square kilometres, North Luangwa shares the same rift valley, with similar landscapes, soils and vegetation. The North however is much more remote, only accessible via reputable safari tour guides, so is relatively unvisited. 

Lion cubs, Zambia


Somewhat drier than its southern counterpart, it features wide open spaces, punctuated by tributaries. As with the south, the Luangwa River borders the east, however two rivers cut through the park, Lufila and Mwaleshi. Both almost completely disappear during the dry season, and this is the only time you can really visit (June to October), leaving pools of water popular with thirsty game. Topography consists of pure mopane woodland, riverine forest, open grasslands and acacia thicket, with vegetable ivory palms red mahogany and leadwood. Sausage trees line the Mwaleshi River, which passes a series of rapids and waterfalls before culminating at the pretty Chomba Falls, the crystal waters of which attract large herds of antelope.

With such a dazzling array of habitats, the wildlife is equally prolific, with huge buffalo herds, large lion prides and a healthy hyena population. Cookson’s Wildebeest, endemic to the valley, are abundant here compared to the south and you are likely to spot lots of eland. Delightful dambos are covered in Nile cabbage and some careful scouring will lead to spotting the ears and eyes of hippos piercing the surface. There are 350 recorded bird species, from shy Pel’s fishing owl and osprey, to bee-eaters and attractive purple-crested turacos.

Recovering now from severe poaching, the park employs some of Zambia’s most zealous guides. As prime walking safari terrain, there are no game drive loops. You are free to enjoy the land from the dust up, to get accustomed to the sights sounds and smells and to get close to this untamed wilderness, learning about the bits you might miss in a vehicle, although it is not uncommon to come across a kill. Vehicle back-up is provided.

We recommend flying in, as by car it will take at least 6 hard hours on rough terrain. To sleep, Mwaleshi Camp is perfect, with just 4 intimate thatched reed chalets, no mod-cons but it is comfortable and a great way to experience the natural theatre that is Africa, especially those unmistakable sunsets. Your walking safaris will be arranged from here: stop off at Mwaleshi River for a spot of swimming and fishing or even head to the Bangweulu Swamps, famous for shoe-bill stork and black lechwe.


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