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South Luangwa National Park

Why go on safari in South Luangwa National Park?

Zambia’s South Luangwa is one of the finest reserves in Africa. It’s not only beautiful, but the diverse wildlife is abundant.  Game drives are supplemented by boat safaris in the emerald season, and it is famed for its walking safaris.
Some of the many reasons you should visit are:

  • Walking safaris were pioneered here, and it remains one of the best places in Africa to take a walking safari (especially June to October). 
  • There is a very high standard of guiding in the park. 
  • Perfect for hippo lovers as it has the biggest concentration of hippos in Africa. 
  • Excellent place to see leopards
  • Strong lion prides and increasing numbers of wild dogs
  • Thriving elephant population.  And at Mfuwe Lodge, see the famed elephants walking through reception to their favourite wild mango tree (late October to mid-December).
  • Enjoy boat safaris in the emerald season (January to March).
  • Great birding from December to March, and carmine bee-eaters especially good from about September/October.
  • There are some really superb small camps throughout the park, including bushcamps. 
  • Night safaris are allowed in the park. 
  • Try a microlighting safari from Tafika Camp. 

When to go on safari to South Luangwa National Park

The peak season for the park is July to October. This is the dry season so it’s great for wildlife viewing, and walking safaris are viable at this time as the grasses have died down.  As it gets closer to October it gets increasingly hot, and waterholes dry up causing dramatic scenes as wildlife vies for the scarce water.  

All the remote bushcamps are open in peak season, and a few open from December to March but then most are closed in April and many also in May.  There are always some lodges open throughout the year. 

Don’t underestimate the emerald (rainy) season from December to March.  It tends not to rain all the time, it’s beautiful and lush, babies and young plains game are about, it’s great for birding, there are fewer people and the prices are cheaper!  Also, since many roads are impassable, boat safaris are offered as a way to view wildlife, along with some (short) walks.

For bird lovers, the emerald season is the best time as the summer migrants are here. However the gorgeous carmine bee-eaters are in the valley from mid-August to roughly the end of the year, but especially September and October. 

A South Luangwa Safari: How to do it?

The closest airport is Mfuwe, which you can fly to from Lusaka in under 1½ hours.  From here it’s just about a 45 minute drive to the reserve, though might be much further to your chosen camp.

Most visitors tend to choose at least a couple of different types of lodge or camp (often one lodge and a bush camp) and stay around 6-10 nights. 

You will have daily game activities. This is usually morning and evening drives, walks or boat trips depending on the season and your interest. 

A South Luangwa safari can be easily combined with other reserves in Zambia, or perhaps a few days in Malawi by the lake to relax, or often a visit to Victoria Falls. 

Accommodation in South Luangwa National Park

The standard of accommodation in South Luangwa is generally very high. In essence there are two types of places to stay ”“ a more permanent lodge such as Kapani, Mfuwe or Nkwali, or a bush camp such as Island Bush Camp, Tafika Camp or Mwamba Camp. Many are inside the park, but others are just on the outskirts, though none are far away. 

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South Luangwa National Park accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT +2 hours

Flight time:

Flights from Europe to Lusaka take about 10 hours. Lusaka International Airport is about 25km from the city centre (about 30 minutes transfer).

Language: Zambia's official language is English, but outside of the cities few people speak it.


Visas are required for most nationalities, although a waiver can normally be organized in advance for British citizens.


This is a malarial country.



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