Zambia / North Luangwa National Park
North Luangwa National Park

NORTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

'Wilderness' is the best single word to describe the North Luangwa National Park. The drama of its natural, unspoilt beauty is what strikes most visitors first.

Walking safaris were first conducted here in the mid 1980s but since then only three safari operators have been adventurous enough to stake their territories here.

All safari operators operate small, remote bush camps and there are no permanent lodges in the area. Even today you are not allowed into the North Luangwa National Park unless escorted professionally and there is only one road into the Park.

As with the South Luangwa National Park, the North Luangwa is sandwiched between the Mchinga Escarpment and the Luangwa River. The habitats vary from wide grassy plains, through Mopane woodland to rich riverine forests hosting Acacias, Mahoganies and Sausage Trees.

The Mwaleshi River is a tributary of the Luangwa River that winds its way down the escarpment in a series of waterfalls and then across the valley floor, the river receeds during the dryer months of the year but remains attractive to many species of antelope and the large herds of buffallo that are common in the North Luangwa. It is along this watercourse that walking safaris are conducted and accommodation is in small, remote camps.

In 1989, two American scientists, Mark and Delia Owens, famed for their book 'Cry of the Kalahari', were granted permission to set up a research station in the park. Through their influence and as a means to help curb poaching in the area, the authorities allow entry to the North Luangwa National Park to a few more safari operators who bring limited numbers of tourists into the area for guided walking safaris and game drives.

Mark and Delia's efforts in the North Luangwa National Park are documented in their book 'Survivors Song/The Eye of the Elephant'. Although they have long since left, the project that they established is still going strong and most of the funding for this National Park is supplied by The Frankfurt Zoological Society.