Founded in 1972, Zambia's most famous park, the country's jewel with the Victoria Falls, is home to over 100 species of mammals and some 400 species of birds on an area of more than 9,000 km2. According to specialists, this park is one of the most remarkable reserves on the African continent. The landscapes are varied, from the vast plains (the dambos) punctuated by water points to the scattered woods of acacias, marulas, chigomiers and tamarind trees. Beautiful specimens of baobabs and cathedral mopanes can also be seen. The Luangwa River, whose bed is surprisingly wide, is the lifeline of the park, which it crosses from north to south. In the dry season, the water level drops considerably, discovering sandbanks where crocodiles and hippos bask. The Luangwa is difficult to navigate and, unlike other parks such as Kafue or Lower Zambezi, boat or canoe trips are not included in the list of activities here. On the other hand, night safaris often prove to be extraordinary. The park is indeed known to be one of the places in Africa where the probability of seeing a leopard is the highest. There is also an endemic population of Thorncroft giraffes and Cookson's wildebeest.
In this region that was born, under the impulse of the emblematic Norman Carr, walking safaris, guides are of a rare skill, often cited as an example. Visitors are more numerous in South Luangwa than in the other reserves of the country, the infrastructures are more developed (and especially more accessible to moderate budgets!), but the park still retains a strong character of authenticity. Wildlife and environmental protection in and around the park is carried out by the South Luangwa Conservation Society, working in conjunction with the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), lodge managers and local people. The results obtained in the fight against poaching are excellent.
When to go to South Luangwa? The dry season begins in April and intensifies until October, the hottest month when the concentration of animals is at its peak. In winter, from May to August, the days are warm and sunny but the nights are cool. The rainy season begins in November, the leaves turn green and the bare, dry soil turns into a lush jungle. The animals are less visible, but the landscapes are superb. This "emerald season", as it is called by local operators, lasts until the end of March. This is then the best time for ornithophiles, who can appreciate the massive arrival of migratory birds. Most of the lodges located on the main trails remain open all year round.
However, bush camps are only operational from June to October, when walking safaris are permitted. Flights to Mfuwe are year-round, but the airstrip leading to the park may be impassable after heavy rains.