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The Luangwa Valley

Luangwa Valley Lion Luangwa Valley Lion
Dinner on the sandbank at Nsefu Dinner on the sandbank at Nsefu
Walking through a river in the Luangwa Valley Walking through a river in the Luangwa Valley
Meandering Luangwa River Meandering Luangwa River
A rare male puku in the Luangwa Valley A rare male puku in the Luangwa Valley
Elephant with her baby in the South Luangwa National Park Elephant with her baby in the South Luangwa National Park
Elephants crossing the Luangwa River Elephants crossing the Luangwa River
On an exciting walking safari On an exciting walking safari
Baby Zebra in the Luangwa Valley Baby Zebra in the Luangwa Valley
Two young lions Two young lions
Scout at sunset Scout at sunset
Wandering bird walking through the water Wandering bird walking through the water
Old Hippo Old Hippo
A simple bush ceremony A simple bush ceremony
Herd of buffalo Herd of buffalo

Africa's best kept Safari secret

Luangwa (meaning ‘fishing baskets’) Valley is situated at the end of the Great Rift Valley in a rift valley of its own. Between the walls of the escarpment, winds the Luangwa River at the bottom. Over many years, the river has receded and changed course, leaving lots of scenic ox-bows and lagoons, filled with hippos and crocodiles. The rich volcanic soil supports a wide variety of lush vegetation and a wealth of animal and birdlife. The first proper parks were created in 1938 and in 1972 they were turned into national parks: South Luangwa, North Luangwa, Luambe and Lukusuzi. Separating these are game management areas, which also contain good populations of game. This entire valley is remote but, for the enthusiast, the wildlife is well worth the effort made to get here.

For most visitors, South Luangwa National Park is by far the most practical park to visit in the valley. This is the largest of the parks, with superb wildlife and many excellent camps and lodges. The more intrepid might organise a safari from the South Park into North Luangwa, which is even more remote and exclusive. Once known as "The Crowded Place" and "The Kingdom of the Elephant", the Luangwa Valley was sorely hit by poachers, who shot all of the valley's rhino and severely reduced elephant populations. Fortunately, conservation measures have been stepped up due to the committed effort by several individuals, community members as well as parks authorities and the wildlife is flourishing once again.

Luangwa (meaning ‘fishing baskets’) Valley is situated at the end of the Great Rift Valley in a rift valley of its own. Between the walls of the escarpment, winds the Luangwa River at the bottom. Over many years, the river has receded and changed course, leaving lots of scenic ox-bows and lagoons, filled with hippos and crocodiles. The rich volcanic soil supports a wide variety of lush vegetation and a wealth of animal and birdlife. The first proper parks were created in 1938 and in 1972 they were turned into national parks: South Luangwa, North Luangwa, Luambe and Lukusuzi. Separating these are game management areas, which also contain good populations of game. This entire valley is remote but, for the enthusiast, the wildlife is well worth the effort made to get here.

For most visitors, South Luangwa National Park is by far the most practical park to visit in the valley. This is the largest of the parks, with superb wildlife and many excellent camps and lodges. The more intrepid might organise a safari from the South Park into North Luangwa, which is even more remote and exclusive. Once known as "The Crowded Place" and "The Kingdom of the Elephant", the Luangwa Valley was sorely hit by poachers, who shot all of the valley's rhino and severely reduced elephant populations. Fortunately, conservation measures have been stepped up due to the committed effort by several individuals, community members as well as parks authorities and the wildlife is flourishing once again.

Today the Luangwa Valley is rife with over 50 mammals, ranging from herds of buffalo, hyena, elephant, zebra, jackal and 15 different antelope. It is the only place where one is able to see Thornicroft's Giraffe and the endemic Cookson's wildebeest and of course not forgetting the thousands of hippos and crocodile that lounge in the many pools and rivers, which they share with the abundance of fish life. Luangwa is reportedly known as one of the best places in Africa to see leopard, particularly if you make use of one of the many night-time game drives on offer, definitely an experience not to be missed.

Situated far from all the major cities, the Luangwa Valley is remote and has therefore been spared the masses of tourists in minibusses - this is a pristine, over 9 000km² stretch of lush riverine vegetation. With over 400 bird species seen throughout the valley, this really is a birdwatcher’s paradise. At the end of the dry season (end of November), hundreds of water-birds are attracted to the pools. Storks, Pelicans, Great White Egret, Black headed Heron, Goliath Heron and Crowned Cranes to name a few.

If you are a real Safari enthusiast and would prefer to steer clear of the modern day Landrover then you will enjoy stepping back in time and becoming one with nature on a Walking Safari. These were pioneered in the Luangwa Valley and going on one of these trails is still considered one of the greatest wildlife experiences in Africa. Whatever you decide to do whilst in the Luangwa Valley Region you will not be disappointed, it definitely lives up to its title as one of “Africa’s best kept secrets”.

Our Travel Experts have scoured the hills, valleys, lakes and wilderness that make up the Luangwa Valley so please do contact them to find out more about planning a safari and booking your accommodation, transfers and flights.

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Highlights

Walking Safaris »

Walking in a dry riverbed

Your armed ranger and tracker pick up a scent- a small herd of elephant are drinking from a nearby waterhole. In single file and in complete silence, you are guided quietly through the bush until your ranger holds his arm aloft. This is the sign to stop walking and to come to a complete standstill for the large matriarch of the herd has detected the group’s presence. All is quiet for a seeming eternity and then suddenly the elephant turns towards you bringing you face to face with these huge and graceful animals- all on their own terms. This is an everyday reality of walking safaris in the South Luangwa, the home of tracking game on foot and this is an experience to be savoured.

Night Drives »

Leopard on the hunt at night

There is nothing quite like the thrill of heading off on a night game drive. A roar in the distance whilst you sit around your cosy camp-fire at night can trigger the attention of guests and rangers alike and as you head off on a torch-lit journey in your 4X4 with your ranger and tracker, the combination of adrenalin and curiosity create memories that will stay with you long after your return to civilization. The South Luangwa is famous for its night drives and is one of the best places in Africa to spot the ever elusive leopard whilst it stalks its prey under the cover of darkness. Game is often extremely active at night so the opportunity to track them on the hunt is one not to be passed.

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Our Favourite Luangwa Valley Tours & Accommodation

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Nkwali Camp »

Nkwali Safari Camp, on the banks of the Luangwa River in the South Luangwa National Park, is styled as a camp rather than a conventional safari lodge. Built entirely of natural materials and designed to be "open" to the surrounding bush, Nkwali hosts only a dozen visitors at a time.

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Zambia Fly-In Safari »

A trip for those who want to experience real Africa! The South Luangwa is a fantastic remote safari destination where you have the chance to view game on foot. Enjoy an African safari in the style of the early explorers with plenty more creature comforts.

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Tafika Camp »

Tafika Camp in the South Luangwa National Park is the base camp of Remote Africa Safaris. A maximum of twelve guests enjoy the comfort and beauty of six spacious chalets. Tafika offers microlight flights and mountain biking as optional extras to the daily game drives and walks.

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Tena Tena »

Tena Tena in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park has become a favourite home-from-home for globetrotters worldwide. The words “Tena Tena” mean "temporary home" in the local language, and for many people this exclusive and luxury five tent camp is its very own safari nirvana.

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Zambia Safari and the Falls »

This itinerary is a veritable “best of” Zambia combining two major National Parks and culminating with a stay by the World Famous Victoria Falls. This trip offers superb game viewing and the stay at the Falls is the perfect end to your Zambian journey.

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Chikoko Trails Camp »

Chikoko Walking Trails in the South Luangwa National Park are conducted in a very beautiful area, rich in wildlife. Three chalets are raised above the ground, within the tree canopy enhancing the view of the wild array of wildlife activity that takes place in front of the camp.

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Remote Zambia »

This is the perfect safari itinerary for those looking to get well off the beaten track and up close and personal to the wildlife! Get out of the 4x4 vehicles and track the game on foot with your experienced armed rangers as well as micro-lighting.

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Luangwa Safari House »

This stunning private house is located 1km from Robin Pope’s Nkwali Camp. Built on the edge of a seasonal lagoon and with a backdrop of the Chindeni Hills, the game including herds of elephants and journeys of giraffe, use this area to feed and water throughout the day.

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