SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
South Luangwa National Park is in eastern Zambia, the southernmost of the three national parks in the valley of the Luangwa River. it is a world-renowned wildlife haven which is known for concentration of game along the meandering Luangwa River and its Logoons are amongst the most intense in Africa. The river is known to have hippos, crocodiles and provides a life for one of the greatest diversities of habitat and wildlife, supporting more than 60species of mammals and over 400 bird species. It marks the end of the Great Rift Valley.
This national park supports a large of Thorneycroft’s giraffe, and herds of elephants and cape buffalos often several hundred strong. It is one of the best-known national parks in Africa for walking safaris. Founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9,050 square Kilometers.
The Muchinga Escarpment in the Northern and Central Provinces forms the park’s western or North-Western boundary. It slopes down from there to there to the River, lying mostly on its western bank. The eastern bank of the River is in Eastern Province, and as access to the park is only from that side, it is usually thought of as being wholly in Eastern Province.
HISTORY OF LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK.
Luangwa National Park was established as a Game Reserve in 1904. British conservationist Norman Car was influential in setting up the South Luangwa National park.
A man ahead of his time, Norman Car broke the mould of track-and-hunt safari and created conservation based tourist.
In the 1950s, he persuaded the Paramount Chief to set aside a portion of tribe land as a Game Reserve and built the first game viewing camp open to the public in Northern Rhodesia now Zambia. Visitors shot with cameras and not rifles thus South Luangwa became the home of the photographic and walking safari. Profits from the remote photographic camp in the bush went back in the surrounded community. The park spans two eco-regions, both of them woodland savannah, distinguished by the dominant tree: Southern Miombo woodlands cover the higher slopes of the valley, while Zambezian and Mopane woodlands cover the bottom of the valley. The Mopane tree tolerates the higher temperatures and lower rainfall found at lower elevations than Miombo trees which are found on the higher plateau. Within these woodland savannahs are larger patches of grassland, so that grazers such as zebra and leaf browsers such as giraffe are found in profusion in the same areas. Patches of flooded grassland habitats (floodplains) are found close to the river, on which hippopotamus graze at night. Their dung released into the river fertilizes its waters and sustains the fish population which in turn sustains the crocodiles.
The Luangwa valley, continued to the west by the Lunsemfwa River valley, contains some varieties of animals such as Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra which are endemic or near-endemic to the valley. It also represents something of a natural barrier to human migration and transport, no roads cross it and this has helped conserve its wildlife.
Although this park is generally well-protected from poaching, its black rhinos were extirpated by 1987, and the elephant population has been under serious pressure at times.
The main settlement of the park is actually outside its eastern boundary at Mfuwe, and it has an airport which has flights to Lusaka, the Lower Zambezi and Lilongwe in Malawi.
Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit together with North Luangwa National Park.
ACTIVITIES DONE IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
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 4000km all the way from the red sea down to the Pungwe River mouth in Mozambique Mobile Walking Safaris – you will be accompanied by a guide as you walk from one overnight camp to another deep in the heart of the park, along the river banks, exploring areas where there are no roads so you are unlikely to see anything but wildlife. This park is one of the best known for these types of safaris.
Birding Safaris – there is a vast array of birds in the park. A birding safari is usually accompanied by an ornithologist or an expert birding guide. Bird lovers appreciate the time to listen to bird song, twitters, and calls, while still enjoying the opportunity of seeing large game.
Boat Safaris – the South Luangwa River offers a spectacle of wildlife to view safely from the comfort of your boat. The Luangwa River is best navigated in the rainy season when it is fuller. The scenery is lush and verdant and hippos and crocodiles are everywhere, elephants will be common too but most of the other animals will not need to come to the river in the wet season so the focus will be on the experience itself more than game viewing but most operators combine boating and walks.
Bush-Spa – In the heart of the South Luangwa National Park is a bush–spa, sure to bring tranquility and rejuvenation. The therapists use treatments based on traditional therapeutic ingredients as well as traditions like using coffee to exfoliate before a deep cleanse with Marula and then moisturizing with Sausage Tree or Baobab Masks. Relax in the Jacuzzi or enjoy a reflexology massage all set in the picturesque African bush.
Kawaza Village – just outside of the Park is Kawaza village, home to the Kunda tribe. Here you will be able to experience the culture of the local people as well as the opportunity to stay in a simple African thatched hut. The village was the winner of the prestigious British Guild of Travel Writers’ Silver Otter Award for the “Best Overseas Tourism Project.”
Tribal Textiles boasts a large, colorful retail outlet and workshop, located on the road between Mfuwe Airport and the National Park. It’s the perfect place to pick up a special souvenir of time spent in the South Luangwa or shop for gifts for all the family
Game Drives – many of the lodges offer morning and afternoon game drives. Morning drives usually start before sunrise, allowing you to take in the best of the morning game-viewing. The afternoon drives often continue after dark to try and spot some of the Park’s night-time inhabitants.
Night Drives – this is an opportunity to enjoy the nocturnal creatures of the Park long after the sun has set.
Walking Trips – you will have the opportunity to enjoy the African bush on foot, usually for a few hours at a time. A guide will accompany you and make sure of your safety during your excursion.
Local Village Visits – if you are interested in the culture and heritage of the land, a visit to one of the local villages will definitely give you more insight.
Photographic Safaris-there is no better way to get your best wildlife shots than out on a photographic safari.