Zambia’s most popular haven for wild life is the
. In addition to having abundant all year round game, Luangwa valley has gained well-earned popularity because of its wonderful trekking safari, and there is quite a lot the valley has to offer that has not been mentioned. The Luangwa valley is divided into two separate national parks, and the
lies at the far tail of the Rift Valley, covering approximately 3500 sq. miles of immaculate wilderness in Zanzibar. The park’s terrain is covered with vast numbers of woodlands, with miombo mixed together with grasslands in the northern region of the park and big stands of well grown ebony that create larges shades on the river banks.
River Luangwa slowly and elegantly flows through the park running from the North to the South supplementing the natural beauty of the park.
On the eastern bank of river Luangwa the
was established in 1904, but unfortunately the park was not well maintained. Later in May 1938 3 national parks were established in the valley of Luangwa and these included the North Luangwa Game Reserve, the South Luangwa Game Reserve and the Lukusuzi Game Reserve. A private game-reserve was established on the eastern bank of river Luangwa between river Kauluzi and river Mwasauke by senior chief Nsefu in 1949.
In February 1972 the
was later absorbed into the present parks boundaries when new laws turned all existing game reserves into new National Parks. Located in the Rift valley at the far end of the Luangwa Valley, South Luangwa National Park is an isolated wilderness. It is gifted with a rich population of wildlife unlike other known game reserves, and is among the best wildlife habitats in the whole world. The vast untouched wild area is a haven to a different game, large predators as well as bird species.
The river Luangwa has greatly supported the existence of this valley and on its bank congests a large number of crocodiles, wading waterfowls and hippos. Very few parks can be compared to hold such a vast number of game and be able to present this outstanding wildlife in a very remote and secluded wilderness. The park also has numerous fine safari lodges.For this reason, experts have named South Luangwa among the utmost wildlife havens in the whole world. The population of game around the oxbow lagoons and river Luangwa is one of the largest in the whole of Africa.
The most undamaged river system in the whole of Africa is river Luangwa and it is the back bone on which the 9,050 sq. Kilometer large park survives. The park holds a diversity of birds, vegetation and wildlife. The popularly like
originated from the South Luangwa National Park, and is still one of the one of the best destination to experience the African wilderness while on foot. The park has two major seasons which include: bare bushveld in the winter and the flourishing green wonderland during summer month. There are more than 400 bird species and approximately 60 animal species in the park. Unfortunately the hippos are facing extinction due to intensive poaching.
This rainy season runs up to the end of the month of March, with migrant birds arriving in flocks. The lodges remain open provided there is access and this is greatly dictated by their location.
The hippos are the commonest in this area. There are about 30 to 70 hippos relaxing in the river, lagoons and dambos that you will catch sight of ass you cross on the bridge that leads into this park. It is estimated that there are more than 50 hippopotami per kilometer along river Luangwa.Small herds of around twelve Crawshay’s Zebra or Equus burchellii crawshyi, a sub-breed of the Burchell’s Zebra,are seen running around in the fur south. Their stripping patterns do not have shadow stripes and are thinner as they extend under the belly and to the hooves, dissimilar to the Burchell zebra with broad stripes separated by shadow stripes.One unique animal species in the Luangwa Valley is the Thornicroft’s Giraffe or Giraffa camelopardalis thorncrofti. Also rare but seen are the Cookson’s wildebeest or Connochaetes taurines cooksoni – a sub-breed of the Blue Wildebeest.
The south park has 14 varying antelope species many of which you will catch sight of as you enjoy your night or day game drives. The duiker is not so popular around river Luangwa but nests at the far back end of Luangwa Valley. The largest among the antelopes is the eland which is common in the Park’s Nsefu region. The impala is the antelope with the biggest population, and these sociable animals are usually seen in large herds. These should not be confused with the Puku who have a similar size with a characteristic deep orange coat and are very reproductive.
The most beautiful is the Kudu with its elegant spiral horns embedded on a beautiful little face. Although very common, they are not ease to see due to their shy character and preference for thick bushes. Other resident species though not abundant in the central tourism region are Reedbuck, klipspringer roan, oribi, sable, grysbok and hartebeest. These prefer to live deeper in the distant regions close to the Muchinga escarpment. Hyenas are moderately popular through the Luangwa valley and their characteristic African bush, sad weird cry can be heard from a distance in the nights.
There is a rich population of leopards in the South Luangwa but they are not commonly seen due to their tendency to draw back when they hear the sound of vehicles.Lions are another common animal species in the park as it is in many parts of Africa. Once they make a kill out of the central tourist region, the pride tends to stay there for a number of days so visitors on a short holiday may not be able to see them. Their prides usually contain about 30 lions.Other resident predators although not usually seen include wild dogs, side stripped jackals, serval and caracals.
River Luangwa has an amazingly large number of crocodiles. Sights of them floating in the river, basking at the banks or even ripping at dead animals are very common.Night game drives are so exciting in this park. You will not only see the leopards but also other nocturnal animals that only appear in the night. Genets, hyenas, servals, civets, and bush-babies in addition to nightjars, lion, owls, honey badgers and foraging hippos are some of the many you will see.
Bird watching is another interesting activity in the valley. Towards the end of the dry – hot season, as the oxbow lagoons and river starts to recede;one can see many of these large water birds along the shallows.
There are the marabou stork, black headed herons, open billed storks great white egrets, and the goliath heron that are able to stand in the very same position for numerous hours before moving. The most beautiful species are the graceful crowned cranes that congest the salt pans in their orange flocks.This is an ideal bird watching spot with 732 species of different birds which include 39 birds-of-prey, 47 migrating species of birds and these are available all year round.