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Zambia Safari

Zambia's National Parks - Safari Information

Return to Safari Camps & Map of Zambia

South Luangwa           North Luangwa           Lower Zambezi           Kafue           Lochinvar           Sioma Ngwezi

Liuwa Plains           Mweru Wantipa           Bangweulu Floodplains           Nsumbu           West Lunga           Mosi-Oa-Tunya

Up until the 1970's Zambia was considered to have had some of the highest game populations in Africa; unfortunately, over-hunting and poaching have since decimated the game in many areas. Recently however, this safari destination has been steadily recovering, with fresh government controls over hunting and poaching. Today almost 30% of the country is under game management.

Zambia has a relatively undeveloped tourism infrastructure and a small but sophisticated safari industry with excellent lodges and seasonal bush camps and some of Africa's best safari guides. Safaris in Zambia are ideally suited for "old Africa hands" or those seeking a remote and more exclusive safari.

A vast grassy plateau dominates the country with the prime wildlife regions being concentrated around the Luangwa, Kafue and Zambezi water systems. While not sharing the game diversity of some of its neighbours, Zambia's wildlife concentrations are impressive and it is ideal for specialists seeking specific African game species or birdlife on a brilliant scale.

Zambia is the home of the modern walking safari and without doubt offers some of Africa's best traditional walking safaris, particularly in the Luangwa Valley. Night drives are a speciality in Zambia and provide arguably the best means for seeing some of the more elusive nocturnal species, including leopard.

South Luangwa National Park
The Luangwa River is the life blood of the South Luangwa National ParkIn 1904 the Luangwa Game Park was declared on the eastern bank of the Luangwa River, but the park was not maintained. In May 1938 three parks were defined in the Luangwa Valley: the North Luangwa Game Reserve; the Lukusuzi Game Reserve; and the South Luangwa Game Reserve. In 1949 Senior Chief Nsefu established a private game reserve on the Luangwa River’s eastern bank, between the Mwasauke and Kauluzi Rivers.

This became the Nsefu Sector, which was absorbed into the boundaries of the present park when new legislation turned all game reserves into national parks in February 1972. Situated at the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, in the Luangwa Valley, the South Luangwa National Park is wild and remote. It has an abundance of wildlife that is rarely seen in other game reserves and is one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. This huge area of pristine wilderness is home to a large variety of game and birds, as well as the bigger predators.

The survival of the valley depends on the winding Luangwa River, crowded with hippos, crocodiles and wading waterfowl. Few parks can match this phenomenally high game density nor do they have the ability to show visitors such remarkable wildlife in so remote and isolated a wilderness. There are many excellent lodges in this park.

Experts have dubbed South Luangwa National Park as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the Luangwa River and it’s oxbow lagoons is among the most intense in Africa.

The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the park's 9,050 km2. The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand. The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species found in the park. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.

Seasonal changes are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month when game concentrations are at their height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August. The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green, and the dry bleak terrain becomes a lush jungle. The rainy season lasts up until the end of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Each lodge stays open for as long as access is possible, depending on its location in the area.

South Lunagwa Wildlife
Hippos are just about everywhere in the Luangwa RiverThe hippopotamus is one animal you won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be at least 50 hippos per kilometre of the Luangwa River.

Crawshay's Zebra (Equus burchellii crawshyi), a subspecies of Burchell's Zebra, can be seen running in small herds of about a dozen. The difference between Crawshay's ’s zebras and the more common (E. burchellii burchellii) species further to the south are the stripe patterns. Here the patterns are without shadow striping and are thinner stripes extending down to the hooves and under the belly as opposed to the more Burchell's broad light stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between.

Thornicroft’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis thorncrofti) is unique to Luangwa Valley and therefore a specialty of the region.  Also seen, but not common are Cookson’s wildebeest (Connochaetes taurines cooksoni) - a subspecies of the Blue Wildebeest.

South Luangwa has 14 different antelope species, most of which are easily seen on day and night drives. Watch out for the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely covered areas. The common duiker is not that common near the Luangwa river but inhabits the back country of the Luangwa Valley. The largest of the antelope is the eland, usually near the Nsefu sector of the park. The most numerous antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals can be seen in herds all over the park. Not to be confused with the Puku, of similar size, but a much fluffier buck with a rich orange coat and also prolific.

Perhaps the most beautiful is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and delicate face. Although fairly common, they’re not always easy to find due to their retiring habits and preference for dense bush.. Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer and oribi are all here but not prolific in the central tourist area of the Park. They tend to stay deeper in the remote parts towards the Muchinga escarpment.

Hyenas are fairly common throughout the valley and their plaintive, eerie cry, so characteristic of the African bush can be heard on most nights.

South Luangwa also has a good population of leopard but they are not easily seen and tend to retreat when they hear vehicles. Many of the Lodge’s game trackers are skilled in finding leopards on night drives however, and often visitors are rewarded with a full view of a kill.

Lions are as plentiful in the Luangwa as anywhere else in Africa, but when a kill is made away from the central tourist area, the pride may stay away for several days and may not be seen by visitors on a short stay. Very often they roam in prides of up to thirty.

Other carnivores present but not often seen include caracal, wild dog, serval and side-striped jackal.

Leopard with a kill, South Luangwa National Park, ZambiaThe Luangwa river also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.

Night drives are fascinating in the Luangwa. Not only for the chance of seeing a leopard but for the many interesting animals that only come to life at night. Genets, civets, servals, hyenas, and bushbabies as well as owls, nightjars, the foraging hippos, honey badgers and lion.

Birdwatching is superb in the Valley. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The red faced yellow billed storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The pelicans tend to operate in lines abreast, driving the fish before them into shallows before scooping them up into their beak pouches. The striking 1.6m saddle bill stork makes quick darting movements into the water. Then there’s the marabou stork, great white egrets, black headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that can stand in the same position for hours before pouncing. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in large flocks at the salt pans.

Around the same time, just before the rains set in, in November, the palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows. Swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way from Russia. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river.

With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Valley, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.



North Luangwa National Park
The Luangwa River as it flows south through the North Luangwa National ParkNorth Luangwa National Park is a remote tract of land covering 4,636 square kilometres and is one of the most spectacular and untamed wilderness areas in Zambia, if not Africa itself. It is not open to the public and there are no permanent camps in the park. Access is only available through one of the few safari operators granted permission to conduct walking safaris in North Luangwa.

Two main rivers, the Luangwa and Mulandashi, run through and along the park. The latter cascades down in a series of rapids and waterfalls before reaching the valley floor by means of the delightful Chomba Waterfall. This cool crystal waterfall, in the heart of North Luangwa Park, boasts some of the largest herds of antelope along its river course.

The diversity of habitats in this park leaves you feeling bewildered and dazzled. There are areas of pure mopane forests, lush riverine forests and sausage trees laden with long dangling sausage-looking fruit. This leads to an awesome variety of birds from the Pel’s fishing owl to the purple crested turaco.

Although declared a wilderness area, the North Park, was not open to anyone other than Game Department rangers for more than thirty years. In 1984, Major John Harvey and his wife Lorna sought permission to conduct walking safaris in the area and for many years, they were the only operators in this remote wilderness. The South Luangwa park has always enjoyed greater attention in terms of funding and conservation efforts and consequently, the North Luangwa park suffered - poachers shot a great many animals and the rhino population was wiped out.

Then in 1986, an American couple of zoologists, Mark and Delia Owens, famed for their book Cry of the Kalahari (about their experiences in central Botswana), were granted permission to set up a research station in the park. Mark and Delia fell in love with the beauty of North Luangwa and over the next couple of years, established a number of anti-poaching initiatives within local communities. Their efforts led to a virtual end to game poaching, to an improvement in the lives of local villagers and general better conditions for the wild animals as well as the people living in and around North Luangwa.

Through the Owens' influence and as a means of helping to curb poaching in the area, the authorities allowed entry to the park to a few more safari operators who bring limited numbers into the park for guided walking safaris and game drives. The Owens' efforts in the North Luangwa are documented in their book Survivors Song, The Eye of the Elephant.

The park now has some of the most zealous game rangers in the country. If you are a traveller looking for adventure rather than the run-of-mill safari, North Luangwa National Park is "the corner of the earth that smiles on you above all others".

The beauty of visiting this park is in its truly remarkable opportunity to experience Africa as it was in years past. It is wild and untouched and you are simply an unobtrusive witness to its natural beauty and drama. There are very few roads and you’re unlikely to see anyone else for the duration of your trip. Like the South Park, it lies on the western bank of the Luangwa River bordered on the other side by the dramatic Muchinga escarpment which rises over 1000 meters from the valley floor. Its hazy outline can clearly be seen from the Luangwa river.

There are a number of tributary rivers running through the park and into the Luangwa which play an important ecological role in the Area. The crystal clear Mwaleshi river trickles down the escarpment in a series of small waterfalls. It recedes in the dry season, leaving many pools along the way, drawing the animals from the bush to its banks in search of water. No game drives are permitted in the Mwaleshi area, access is by organised walking safaris only.

North Luangwa is know for walking safaris and its Buffalo herdsNorth Luangwa Wildlife
The park is noted for its massive herds of buffalo, a spectacular sight if they’re seen on the run, kicking up dust for miles behind them. Large prides of lion inhabit the territory and it is not uncommon to witness a kill. Other common mammals are hyena, Cookson’s wildebeest (Connochaetes taurines cooksoni) - a subspecies of the Blue Wildebeest, bushbuck, Crawshay's zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, puku and impala.

Elephant and leopard are also seen, but not as frequently as in the South Park; however, you are more likely to see hartebeest, reedbuck and eland here. All the birds in the South Luangwa have been recorded here as well. Sighted regularly are the crowned cranes, purple crested louries, broad billed roller, Lilian’s lovebird, the carmine bee-eater, giant eagle owl and Pel’s fishing owl. Occasionally seen are the bathawk, black coucal and osprey.



Lower Zambezi National Park
The Lower Zambezi National Park is a beautiful wilderness area opposite Zimbabwe's Mana Pools N.P.Lower Zambezi National Park is Zambia’s newest Park and as such is still relatively undeveloped, but it’s beauty lies in it’s absolute wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary.

The Zambezi River's edge is overhung with a thick riverine fringe, mostly diasporus, ficus and other riverine species. Further inland is a floodplain fringed with mopane forest and interspersed with winterthorn trees, the Acacia albida. The hills which form the backdrop to the park are covered in broadleaf woodland.

The Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4,092 square kilometers, but most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the parks animal species. Enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, are often seen at the rivers edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are quite common. The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard and listen too for the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle.

Fishing is good along the Zambezi River and healthy Tiger fish and bream catches are common as well as vundu, a member of the catfish family, weighing up to 50 kilograms. Strangely, cheap, strong smelling soap is an excellent bait.

Canoeing is a must. The lodges in the park provide day long canoeing trips. Float down the river at your leisure and they’ll pick you up in a speedboat at the end of the day to bring you back.

Several operators run 3 to 5-day trips, overnighting at very comfortable bush camps on the banks of the river. These are highly recommended. The river has a strong enough current to take you easily down the river with little effort. The river guides will take you down remote channels between the islands where your opportunities to get close to game are very high. Hippos are always in sight, and elephant, zebra, puku, impala, buffalo, kudu and baboons can be seen browsing on the banks from the laid back comfort of your canoe.

Anglers will love going after the Zambezi's prized tigerfishThe ecological unit of Lower Zambezi National Park and the Chiawa Game Management Area support a relatively large population of mammals. The escarpment and plateau regions are largely inaccessible and have not been formally surveyed. The valley floor, although a small area, is host to many of the bigger mammals, including elephant, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, and crocodiles, impala and warthog. Occasionally, roan, eland and the Samango monkey are seen. Nocturnal animals here are hyaena, porcupine, civet, genet and honeybadger.

The birdlife along the riverbanks is exceptional. Many a fish eagle can be seen and heard for miles around. Nesting along the cliffs are white fronted and carmine bee eaters. Other species include the redwinged pratincole, the elegant crested guinea fowl, black eagle, and vast swarms of quelea. In summer the stunning narina trogon makes its home here. Other specialities are the trumpeter hornbill, Meyer's parrot and Lilian’s lovebird.

The best time is mid season from June to September, but all lodges and canoeing operators are open from April to November. Fishing is at its best in September / October.



Kafue National Park
Large prides of lions are attracted by Kafue's vast herds of antelope, including the endemic Kafue Lechwe.Kafue is Zambia’s oldest national park and by far the largest. It was proclaimed in 1950 and is spread over 22,400 square kilometres - the second largest national park in the world and about the size of Wales.

Despite the Park’s proximity to both Lusaka and the Copperbelt, it has remained underdeveloped until the most recent years. Despite the depravations of poaching and lack of management, the Park is still a raw and diverse slice of African wilderness with excellent game viewing, birdwatching and fishing opportunities.

From the astounding Busanga Plains in the North-western section of the Park to the tree-choked wilderness, and the lush dambos of the south, and fed by the emerald green Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers, the park sustains huge herds of a great diversity of wildlife.

The lush grasslands are grazed by red lechwe in their thousands. Fifty years ago, lechwe were almost extinct in this area; however, the establishment of the national park has seen a phenomenal recovery in their numbers and it is a sight of great beauty to see them wandering in such vast herds across the golden plains. During the wet season they splash about in the shallow waters, and, interestingly enough, lion, who usually dislike water, can be seen chasing them through water at least a half a meter deep.

Other antelope found here are blue wildebeest, Lichtenstein's hartebeest (frequently seen), buffalo, zebra, reedbuck, oribi, puku and impala. Bushpig and warthog are also inhabitants of the plains. The shy swamp-dwelling sitatunga is found here, its widespread hooves enabling it to walk on the floating reedmats. Roan antelope are also seen regularly in the northern sector as well as big herds of sable 30 to 40 strong.

The wealth of game on the plains are a big attraction for lions and prides of up to twenty are spotted regularly. Cheetah and Leopard also roam the plains, the cheetah being able to exercise their famous turn of speed. There is also a host of smaller carnivores from the side-striped jackal, civet, genet and various mongoose.

Birdwatching - especially on the rivers and the dambos, is superb. Notables include the wattled crane, purple crested lourie and Pel’s fishing owl. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded throughout the park.

The Kafue and Lunga Rivers offer superb fishing opportunities, especially good bream, barbel and fresh water pike. Most lodges have fishing tackle, rods, boats and bait available. Musungwa Lodge in the south, hosts an annual fishing competition in September on Lake Itezhi Tezhi.



Lochinvar National Park
Lochinvar National Park sits on the southern edge of the Kafue Flats, a huge floodplain in southern ZambiaLochinvar National Park, although not abundant in the larger mammals, is nonetheless a park of exceptional beauty and outstanding birding opportunities with over 420 recorded species in its 428 square kilometers.

The Park is situated on the southern edge of the Kafue Flats, a wide floodplain of the Kafue River between Itezhi tezhi Dam in the west and Kafue Gorge in the east. The area extends for 33kms from the Kafue River in the north to low wooded hills in the south. It includes the large, shallow Chunga Lagoon which fluctuates considerably in size with variations in river levels. The varying vegetation makes it an interesting park to visit with floodplains, woodlands and termitaria.

It is particularly well known for the large herds of Kafue lechwe, unique to the Kafue flats. Other antelope are the blue wildebeest, kudu, oribi and buffalo. Waterbirds are especially abundant.

The IUCN and WWF have designated the Kafue Flats a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. A sponsored management project for the area attempts to give local people an interest in conservation through both redistribution of tourist revenue and controlled harvesting of resources. The fishermen you may come across in the park are very much a part of this unique ecosystem and in many ways the humans and wildlife here are interdependent.

The Kafue Flats floodplain, in the northern section, floods from the Kafue River, and here you’ll find thousands upon thousands of the endemic Kafue lechwe, one of three subspecies of lechwe found in Zambia. More than 30,000 of them make the flats their home and move seasonally according to the flood level.

At high water, massive herds may be seen along the upper floodline and in the open grassland further south. As the floods recede the herds move north into the grassy floodplain. They feed on grasses and herbs in water up to a meter deep and are often seen wading or swimming in the Chunga Lagoon. Mating takes place mainly between December and January. Males fight over small territories known as leks and then mate with several females.

In the Termitaria Zone, trees and shrubs grow only on the large termite mounds with grasses and herbs covering the rest of the area, which often becomes waterlogged during the rainy season. There are also many small grey mounds which are always unvegetated. The magpie shrike is one of the birds to be seen in the scattered trees of this zone and the surrounding grassy plains are grazed by buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and oribi. Very much in evidence is the ‘candelabra’ tree.

The southern area is mainly woodland dominated by Acacia albida and Combretum trees and free from flooding. Bushbuck kudu, baboon, bushpig and vervet monkey inhabit this area.

The Gwisho Hot Springs occur along a geological fault here, surrounded by lush vegetation and vegetable ivory palms. The water rises by convection from depths of over 1 km with temperatures ranging from 60° to 90° C. There are high concentrations of sodium, chlorine, calcium and sulphates in the water. A distinctive rock known as a ‘fault breccia’ occurs along the line of the fault and can be seen at Gwisho or the Lodge.

Sebanzi Hill is an archaeological site which has been excavated. It was the site of an iron age village, inhabited for most of the last century. Look out for The Baobab Tree with a hollow trunk large enough for several people to sleep in. Historically the tree was said to boast special powers which would protect passing travellers from wild animals. There is a curious rocky outcrop called Drum Rocks not far from the lodge, which produces a resonant sound when tapped. They are also part of local superstition in former times and passers-by had to stop and greet the rocks before proceeding.

Wildlife and Flora at Lochinvar
Lochinvar offers a wealth of bird species plus buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and oribiThere are no dangerous animals in the park, apart from buffalo and visitors are encouraged to walk about. Cars however should not leave the roads. Lochinvar is well renowned as a superb bird sanctuary featuring many different waterfowl, raptors, woodland species and migrants; 428 species have been recorded.

The floodplain is a wide almost flat area, with black clay soils, sloping almost imperceptibly towards the Kafue River. Vegetation is made up of grasses, sedges and herbs adapted to an annual pattern of flooding. Many plants grow up with the rising waters to become emerging aquatics at high flood. A few isolated winterthorns Acacia albida and palms Borassus aethiopum occur on the river banks. Hundreds of wattled cranes can be seen feeding on vegetable matter dug from the soft mud and the large marabou stork scavenging for stranded fish.

Around Chunga Lagoon you’ll find the greater and lesser flamingo, the pink backed and white pelicans, African skimmer, Caspian tern, Baillon’s crake and the red knobbed coot. Many species of duck are abundant in this environment; the black duck, fulvous duck, whistling duck, pintail, garganey, southern pochard, pygmy goose, yellow billed duck and the Cape and European shovellers. Waders include avocet, the Mongolian, Caspian and Pacific golden plovers, whimbrel, turnstone, sanderling, little stint, spotted redshank, black tailed and bar tailed godwits and six species of sandpiper. Over 50 raptors occur in Lochinvar including the black sparrowhawk, osprey, secretary bird, African cuckoo hawk and the peregrine falcon to name a few. Other interesting sightings include the white-bellied and black bellied korhaans, yellow throated sandgrouse, narina trogon, and Denham’s bustard.

When to Visit Lochinvar
Anytime of the year is accessible although care is needed in the wet season after heavy rains. A 4WD is not necessary although advantageous in the rainy season as road conditions vary according to the last rainfall and when the roads were last graded. Peak floods are reached in May at the end of the rainy season, while the water is at its lowest in October and November at the end of the dry season. The profusion of birds is extensive during the wet season when migrants arrive from the north. The game however is easier to spot in the dry season.



Sioma Ngwezi National Park
Sioma Ngwei is home to over 3,000 elephantsThis 5,000 square kilometre park in the south western corner of the country has been completely undeveloped and rarely visited until recently. It is surrounded by a 35,000 square kilometre Game Management Area (GMA). The Park is unfenced allowing free movement of the animals between the park and the GMA and allowing access to the Zambezi River. The Park and surrounding GMA form an important link in the migratory route of elephants from the bordering national parks of Botswana and Namibia. Although heavily poached, the park does offer a better refuge for elephants migrating from Angola where poaching and illegal hunting is rampant.

There are no permanent facilities and very few roads in the park. A few operators take guided safaris into the park at the moment. There is only one tented camp in Sioma Ngwezi. Alternatively one can take ones own vehicle in but the lack of roads makes this a very difficult undertaking and a guide from the National Parks office in Sioma is highly recommended.

The park is home to over 3,000 elephants and several endangered species including roan, sable, wild dog and cheetah. Several antelope species are present, but quite shy - mostly puku, impala, roan, sable, zebra and kudu. Due to the park’s proximity to Angola, it has suffered substantially from poaching during the civil war. However, plans are afoot to open the park to private management and hopefully the park’s wildlife will recover.



Liuwa Plains National Park
Liuwa Plains attracts massive herds of blue wildebeest in the thousandsThis remote park in the far west of Zambia is pristine wilderness, which to the ardent bush lover, makes it a huge attraction and the rewards are great. Liuwa Plain is best accessed via one of three tour operators offering mobile safaris.

This is not a park one should tackle without a guide as there are no visitor facilities or roads and it is very easy to get lost. Going with a licensed tour operator to see the best this Park has to offer is highly recommended.
If you do tackle it alone, make sure you take an armed scout/guide from the Parks office in Kalabo. One can camp anywhere in the park but don’t attempt it unless there are at least two vehicles and you are fully self sufficient and prepared for all eventualities. This is the ‘real’ Africa, and help is a long way away.

In November, with the onset of the rains, the massive herds of blue wildebeest arrive from Angola, traversing the plains in their thousands, very often mingling with zebra along the way or gathering around water holes and pans.

Other unusual antelope found in Liuwa Plains include oribi, red lechwe, steenbuck, duiker, tsessebe and roan. The Jackal, serval, wildcat, wild dog as well as lion and hyena are the predators of the area. Many birds migrate here during the rains and massive flocks of birds can be seen as they migrate south. Some of the more notables are the white bellied bustards, secretary bird, red billed and hottentot teals, crowned and wattled cranes, long tailed whydah, sooty chat, yellow throated longclaw, large flocks of black winged pratincoles around the pans, fish eagle, tawny eagle, marshall eagle, woodland kingfisher, pink throated longclaw. The plains are dotted with woodlands which also make for excellent birding.



Mweru Wantipa National Park
The swampland surrounding Lake Mweru in the far northern part of the country is much the same as the swamps of the Bangweulu in its profusion of waterbirds during the rainy season. The lake is surrounded by local fishing villages. It is possible to ask them to take you through the swamps in a dugout for a negotiable fee.

Mweru Wantipa National Park, adjacent to the lake, used to harbour vast herds of elephant but poaching has depleted most of the wildlife, although there are still some small herds of buffalo. There are no tourist facilities but it is possible to camp along the lakeshore.



The Bangweulu Floodplains
The Bangweulu Floodplains is a massive wetland area situated on the North Zambean PlateauAlthough not a national park, the Great Bangweulu Basin is worth mentioning. The Basin, incorporating the vast Bangweulu Lake and a massive wetland area, lies in a shallow depression in the centre of an ancient cratonic platform, the North Zambian Plateau. The basin is fed by 17 principle rivers from a catchment area of 190,000 square kilomtetres, but is drained by only one river, the Luapula.

The area floods in the wet season between November in March, receiving an average annual rainfall of about 1,200mm, but 90% of the water entering the system is lost to evapo-transpiration. The resultant effect is that the water level in the centre of the basin varies between one and two meters, causing the floodline to advance and retreat by as much as 45 kilometres at the periphery. It is this seasonal rising and falling of the flood waters that dictates life in the swamps.

Man has inhabited the periphery of the swamp area for hundreds of years as it has always provided a rich source of food. But the area is so incredibly vast, it is largely left to the the multitudes of wildlife that dwell of the rich resources. The current inhabitants of the Northern Province are descendants of a series of emigrations from the Congo Basin.

One of the best reasons for coming to this unusual watery wilderness is the remarkable experience of this infinite flat expanse. The views to the horizon seem endless and one imagines one can almost see the curve of the planet. The birdlife is just magnificent and the sight of thousands upon thousands of the endemic black lechwe, unforgettable.

Vast open floodplains, several kilometres wide exist at the periphery of the permanent swamps. These may lie under a blanket of water from a few centimetres to a meter deep from 3 - 6 months a year depending on the extent of the summer rainfall. These shallow waters provide ideal feeding grounds for huge numbers of indigenous birds as well as numerous summer migrants, many who will have travelled the length of Africa to winter-over in the swamps. White and pink backed pelicans, wattled cranes, white storks, saddlebilled storks, spoonbills and ibises in flocks numbering in the hundreds, as well as many species of the smaller waders, are a common but dramatic sight when the waters are rich in small fish, shrimps and snails.

One of the most rare and elusive birds in Africa, the shoebill stork, Balaeniceps rex, which is in fact closer to the pelican family than a stork, favors the Bangweulu swamps as one of its last remaining habitats and during the early months following the rains, this strange looking bird can regularly be seen on the fringe between the permanent swamps and the floodplains.

Bangweulu offers magnificent birdlife - here a lovely flock of rare Wattled CranesUntil the early 1980’s there were lions in the swamps that preyed on the lechwe and sitatunga. Unfortunately, with the increase in human activity around the edge of the swamps, they have been eradicated. Although rarely seen, leopards do exist, while hyenas and jackals are often heard at night and occasionally encountered on night drives.

Later in the year, when the flood waters have receded, buffalo and to a lesser extent elephant move into the area to feed on the plentiful grasses. Numerous crocodile and hippo are found in the permanent water channels or lurking in the papyrus reeds.

The swamps are a protected wetland, having international importance under the ramsar Convention. The area is ecologically very sensitive and great care should be taken when driving around the floodplains in the dry season. Stick to existing tracks and keep driving to a minimum.



Nsumbu National Park
Nsumbu lies on the southern shores of beautiful Lake Tanganyika, in the far north of ZambiaLying on the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika, in the northern most tip of Zambia, Nsumbu National Park covers an area of just over 2,000 square kilometers and encompasses 100kms of some of the most pristine shores of this vast Lake. Its beauty ranges from sandy beaches, vertical cliffs, rocky coves and natural bays to the rugged hills and deep valleys of the interior. The Lufubu River winds its way through a valley flanked by 300 meter escarpments on either side.

The western boundary of Nsumbu National Park is buffered by Tondwa Game Management Area, an IUCN Category VIII Multiple Use Management Area of 54,000 ha. The much larger Kaputa Game Management Area (360,000 ha) is also contiguous with the National Park to the north-west and south-west. Nsumbu National Park and the two Game Management Areas thus form important parts of a network of protected areas in Zambia.

The Park is dissected from west to east by the sizeable and perennial Lufubu River, which also demarcates the eastern boundary of the Park up to the river's discharge into Lake Tanganyika. The Nkamba and Chisala Rivers are ephemeral and smaller than the Lufubu, draining Tondwa Swamp into Nkamba and Sumbu Bays respectively, the former through an attractive valley with abundant wildlife in relation to other parts of the Park. Much of the park is covered by combretum thicket, but along the lakeshore there are many strangler figs and ‘candelabra’ trees along with the strange and interesting boulders balanced on top of one another.

Although wildlife numbers have declined, there is still a wide range of species present in the park and numbers are recovering, although sightings are not guaranteed. Roan, sable, eland, hartebeest,and buffalo are commonly seen, with zebra and occasionally elephant, lion and leopard also present. Bushbuck, warthog and puku often frequent the beaches. The rare blue duiker, a small forest antelope, is one of the Park’s specialities along with the shy swamp dwelling sitatunga. Other species seen here are the spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, serval, impala, waterbuck and reedbuck. The lake bordering on the park is teeming with crocodiles, so swimming is obviously not advisable. Some of these crocs reach up to six meters in length. Hippos often emerge at night around the lodges to ‘mow’ the green grass.

Birdlife in the park is still prolific with many migrants coming down from East Africa and up from South African regions. The flamingo is one of the more spectacular migrants while some of the lakeshore inhabitants include the skimmer, spoonbill, whiskered tern along with many different storks, ducks and herons. Commonly encountered species around the lake include the grey-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull, white-winged black tern, whiskered tern, African skimmer, and of course the ubiquitous fish eagle. The palmnut vulture and Pel's fishing owl are also occasionally seen.



West Lunga National Park
The 1,684 km West Lunga National Park is situated between the West Lunga and Kabompo rivers; both are perennial and swamps are numerous along the latter. Several forest and woodland types make up the vegetation, including Cryptosepalum on the kalahari sand areas and limited areas of mixed miombo woodland. There are also areas of open grassland and papyrus reed beds. Mammal species are represented by elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, warthog sitatunga, puku, blue, common and yellow backed duiker, oribi, defassa waterbuck and no less than 22 carnivores.



Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park
The magnificent Victoria Falls are just upstream from Mosi-Oa-Tunya National ParkMosi-ao-Tunya National Park is divided into two sections; a game park along the riverbank and the staggering Victoria Falls, each with separate entrances. The immense and awe-inspiring Victoria Falls are known to the local people as Mosi-oa-Tunya - "Smoke Which Thunders", and is the greatest known curtain of falling water in the world.

However you describe them, the falls are a breathtaking spectacle which, "roar as if possessed", and spew vast clouds of mist from a dark and seething cauldon." They are one of the greatest natural wonders in the world.

This is a small wildlife sanctuary (only 25.5 square miles (66 square kilometres) running along the north bank of the Zambezi, encompassed in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. It is worth a short visit not only for the sight of what are probably Zambia’s only remaining rhino, but also for some other common species.

Within this park is the Old Drift cemetery where the first European settlers were buried. They made camp by the river, but kept succumbing to a strange and fatal illness. They blamed the yellow/green-barked 'Fever Trees' for this incurable malady, while all the time it was the malarial mosquito causing their demise. Before long the community moved to higher ground and the town of Livingstone emerged.

Livingstone's main street is dotted with classic colonial buildings, and while some are decaying, many others have been restored. Victorian tin roofed houses with wooden verandas are a typical example of the English settler architecture and there is also a distinct art-deco influence. Livingstone is a quiet lazy little town with much charm and a feeling of optimism in the air.

Baboons are frequently seen on the paths leading to the falls and small antelopes and warthogs inhabit the rainforests that hug the edge of the falls. In the wildlife reserve, the pastures and tall riverine forests contain plenty of birds and a scattering of animals including some white rhino, elephants, giraffe, zebra, sable, eland, buffalo and impala.

South Luangwa           North Luangwa           Lower Zambezi           Kafue           Sioma Ngwezi

Liuwa Plains           Mweru Wantipa           Bangweulu Floodplains           Nsumbu           West Lunga           Mosi-Oa-Tunya

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