SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
The South Luangwa National Park is Zambia's premier National Park and has been dubbed one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.
Many places are claimed to be 'one of the few remaining wilderness areas' or 'one of the last wildlife sanctuaries' but the South Luangwa National Park can live up to all these names and more.
The South Luangwa is truly an unspoilt wilderness, the likes of which are hard to find. The concentration of game along the Luangwa River and its associated ox-bow lagoons is amongst the most intense anywhere in Africa.
The Luangwa River itself, meandering across the valley floor, is teaming with hippos and crocodiles and provides a lifeline for a great diversity of both habitat and wildlife. With over 60 species of mammals and almost 500 species of birds, the South Luangwa National Park has earned its reputation. It is home to two endemic species, the Thornicroft Giraffe and Cookson's Wildebeest and is one of the best Parks in Africa to view leopards in their natural environs.
One exciting success story of recent years is the resurgence of the African Wild Dog population. This species was almost wiped out by anthrax in the late 1980s but over the past decade has strengthened considerably in numbers.
The South Luangwa National Park is 9,050 square km (3,500 square miles), unfenced but bordered to the west by a steep escarpment and to the east by the Luangwa River. Once known as 'The Valley of the Elephants', back in the early 1970s it was home to the world's largest population of elephant. Although poachers reduced the population dramatically, the Park authorities have taken control once more and the population is regenerating strongly. There are plenty of young to be seen and numbers are visibly on the increase once more.
The South Luangwa is known as the home of the walking safari and all the safari camps offer walks. Walking through big game country is a truly exciting experience and as South Luangwa led the way for guide training and licensing in Zambia the standard of guiding here is superb.
South Luangwa's accommodation consists of smaller bush camps or mobile tented camps for those who would like to experience a dedicated walking safari. There are also permanent lodges and most of them are situated in the central Mfuwe area and are open all year round.