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South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park lies in eastern Zambia. It is the southernmost of three national parks in the valley of the sprawling Luangwa River which meanders along the valley creating scenic oxbow lagoons set amongst beautiful riverine vegetation, all combining to make this a magnet for some of Africa’s most outstanding wildlife. Herds of elephant and buffalo reach astonishing numbers – it is not uncommon for herds to reach over 100. An eye-watering 60 species of mammal are to be found and for the budding birdwatcher, Luangwa boasts over 400 species. It is no surprise that South Luangwa is a firm favourite with safari experts, attracting some of the best guides in the industry.  It is also a haven for walking safaris where it has gained a reputation as offering some of the best in Africa. 

The Park is unfenced and bordered to the west by a steep escarpment and to the east by the Luangwa River. The Luangwa Valley lies at the tail end of the Great African Rift Valley system, which extends a staggering 4,000 kilometre all the way from the Red Sea down to the Pungwe River mouth in Mozambique.

A relative newcomer to the World of national parks, South Luangwa only became registered in 1972 by the pioneering conservationist, Norman Carr, a man well ahead of his time who understood the value in photographic safaris over hunting. The park now covers a massive 9,050 square-kilometres of unspoilt and unpopulated safari bliss.

As well as the impressive numbers of elephant and buffalo, you can expect to encounter hippo, lion, Nile crocodile, warthog, puku, impala, spotted hyena, greater kudu and eland, which all congregate in their thousands along the meandering Luangwa river banks. Unique to the Luangwa are the Thornicroft's giraffe, Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra, which are found nowhere else. However, for many the most exciting aspect of the Luangwa Valley is that it has the world’s highest naturally occurring population of leopard.

Concentrations of game along the riverine area increase throughout the dry season and are at their greatest during September and October. The river attracts hippo in extraordinary numbers where they languish in the deep-water channels alongside Nile Crocodile.

Be it walking, game drives or a thrilling night-drive, the diversity and sheer numbers of game make this a remarkable and must-see destination for those seeking a thrilling and off-the-beaten-track safari.

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