Visiting South Luangwa

South Luangwa is Zambia’s premier game viewing park where you can enjoy a unique type of habitat seldom seen elsewhere in Africa. Lying on the valley floor, between the meandering Luangwa River and the steep Muchinga Escarpment, this is the best national park in Zambia and one of the finest in all of Africa.

The seasonal floodplains create an environment that supports a huge diversity of wildlife including over 100 species of mammals and over 470 species of birds as well as many reptiles, insects, amphibians and plants. A totally different experience from parks elsewhere in Africa, Luangwa offers a real immersion to the bush life in an attractive habitat of sausage trees and ox-bow lagoons.

The park is reputed to have the highest concentration of leopard in Africa. Pods of up to 300 hippos are possible to view in the dry season as the river shrinks and they are confined to areas of deep pools. The park’s elephant population is very healthy and it is the best place in Africa to see Puku. Large herds of buffalo move between the river and their grazing grounds and are often followed by lion. Zebra, waterbuck, impala, baboons and warthogs share the open plains with kudu and giraffe.

View South Luangwa Map

The area now known as South Luangwa National Park was originally established to protect the thornicroft’s giraffe, a subspecies that can only be found in the Luangwa Valley.

World famous walking safaris are a favourite activity in South Luangwa and operate during the dry season, and morning and night drives in open topped safari vehicles are conducted by some of the best safari guides in Africa.

Additional Information

History of South Luangwa

In 1866 David Livingstone crossed the Luangwa Valley and noted that “I will make this land better known to men that it may become one of their haunts. It is impossible to describe its luxuriance.” Today, the Luangwa Valley is one of the premier game-viewing destinations in Africa, but in many ways it has managed to avoid being commercialised.

South Luangwa National Park has its roots in a discovery in 1904 when scientists declared the thonricroft’s giraffe a subspecies only to be found in the Luangwa Valley. The Luangwa Game Park was declared on the eastern bank of the river and in 1938 three game-reseves were defined as North Luangwa Game Reserve, Lukusuzi Gane Reserve and South Luangwa Game Reserve.

In 1939, a soon to become well known gentleman called Norman Carr became a ranger in Luangwa. Over the years to come he was to have a huge impact on conservation in Zambia and it he who established the first public camp in Zambia, and developed walking safaris which involved visitors in the real bush experience away from the noise of vehicles. These walking safaris put Luangwa firmly on the map in terms of tourism and they remain popular to this day.

On February 15th 1972 government legislation turned all game-reserves in Zambia into national parks and South Luangwa National Park as we know it today was born.


South Luangwa National Park lies in the eastern province of Zambia. It is situated in the Luangwa Valley which sits at the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, leading southwards from Lake Tanganyika. It is low in altitude and experiences higher temperatures than the rest of Zambia. The park covers an area of 9,050 square kilometres or 2,235,400 acres.

The main area of the park is bordered to the west by the Muchinga Escarpment and the Luangwa River provides the east and southern boundaries.

The main habitat of Luangwa is seasonal floodplains, oxbow lagoons and the Miombo and Mopane woodlands.

National park rules and park fees

Whether you go on safari with one of Wildlife Camp’s qualified guides, or whether you drive into the park with your own vehicle, certain rules and regulations apply.

For self-drive clients all park fees are payable directly to National Parks at the main gate (as you enter the park). As of March 2014 Park Fees are payable in US$ or Zambian Kwacha with the exchange rate worked out on a daily basis. Please see below a complete list of park-fees for the 2014 and 2015 safari season or contact us for further information. Maps of the park is available for purchase at the main-gate to South Luangwa National Park.

Self-drive client are allowed inside the park from 6:00 in the morning to 18:00 in the evenings. Normal rules and regulations apply to self-drive vehicle. Off-road driving is illegal and no more than 4 vehicles are allowed at any sighting. Self-drive clients are not allowed to leave their vehicles at any stage while inside the national park and there are no designated picnic spots within the park boundaries. Four-wheel drive vehicle are strongly recommended and no trucks are allowed inside the National Park. Please make sure that you know and understand all National Park rules and regulations before entering the park with your own vehicle, as ZAWA has the right to act against anybody deemed to have broken and rules.

For guest joining one of our licensed game drives the park gates open at 6:00 in the morning and close at 20:00 in the evening. Park-fees are payable here at Wildlife Camp and can be added to your final bill. Please note that, unless stated otherwise, park-fees are excluded from Wildlife Camp’s rates.

Park fees for South Luangwa National Park for 2014
On Wildlife Camp drives: International guests US$ 25.00
SADC / Zambian Residents US$ 20.00
Zambian Citizens ZMW 42.00
Self-drives clients: International guests US$ 30.00
SADC / Zambian Residents US$ 30.00
Zambian Citizens ZMW 42.00
Vehicles with international reg. numbers US$ 15.00
Vehicles with Zambian reg. numbers ZMW 25.00
National Park fees prices are per person per calendar day
Children under the age of 12 get a 50% discount
Park fees are subject to change without prior notice
Mammals and bird checklist