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Overview

A southern extension of the Great Rift, the Luangwa Valley – named after the tributary of the Zambezi that flows through it – is Africa at its most primal. Much of the region is protected in two near-contiguous national parks, South and North Luangwa, vast expanses of which are rendered inaccessible months at a time during the precipitous southern summer. During the dry season, however, the area supports spectacular concentrations of buffalo, hippo, zebra and elephant, along with an amazing 14 species of antelope, including sable antelope, puku and greater kudu. The southerly park, larger and more developed for mainstream tourism, is ...

A southern extension of the Great Rift, the Luangwa Valley – named after the tributary of the Zambezi that flows through it – is Africa at its most primal. Much of the region is protected in two near-contiguous national parks, South and North Luangwa, vast expanses of which are rendered inaccessible months at a time during the precipitous southern summer. During the dry season, however, the area supports spectacular concentrations of buffalo, hippo, zebra and elephant, along with an amazing 14 species of antelope, including sable antelope, puku and greater kudu. The southerly park, larger and more developed for mainstream tourism, is renowned for its night drives, which come with as good a chance as anywhere of spotting the normally elusive leopard, along with other nocturnal oddities such as porcupine, genet and civet. The river also hosts immense concentrations of hippo, along with a great many water birds. The altogether more remote North Luangwa is one of Africa’s greatest wilderness areas, protecting a variety of game similar to its southern counterpart, but studded with a few small exclusive camps that specialize in walking safaris.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Access is often a problem during the wet southern summer, and most lodges close for at least part of the period between November and May. Wildlife numbers are highest in the dry southern winter, peaking over July to September. This is also the lowest risk season for malaria.