• Leopard, Zambia

Highlights and main attractions of South Luangwa Valley National Park

Highlights and main attractions of South Luangwa Valley National Park

World renowned for its walking safaris, the 3,475 mile square South Luangwa National Park is the most fertile place in the Luangwa Valley and one of the best spots in Africa for a safari. Featuring amazing wildlife and superb guiding, the park is a patchwork of different vegetation zones, from miombo forests and open dambos to mopane forests, both stunted and mature, as well as the lush riverine vegetation found lining the Luangwa River where you can spot giant mahogany trees, sausage trees and black African Ivory. There are also a few large open savannah plains, most notably in the heart of the Nsefu Sector where you will find natural salt springs, a favourite for crowned cranes. This rich diversity of habitats has led to a wonderful variety of wildlife, from outstanding birds to large game and predators. The best way to access the park is via light aircraft which is more relaxed than driving, and provides some spectacular welcoming views. 

Hippo, Zambia

birding and wildlife

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.


Contact one of our Destination Specialists to start planning your journey to Zambia. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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