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Wildlife and Nature

Game Viewing Galore in Luangwa Valley

Luangwa valley comprises for national parks:

The popular South Luangwa National Park, argua-bly one of Africa’s greatest wildlife conservation areas.

The remote and still hardly visited North Luangwa National Park.

The privately managed Luambe National Park.

The 2, 720 sq km Lukusuzi, with no visitor facilities and few recognizable tracks but plenty of game, has great potential

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is one of the Africa’s finest and best managed covering 9, 050 sq km and boarding the Luangwa River, the park is ideal for game viewing during the dry season from April to November.

Not only are animals easy to spot, but they are present in large numbers – especially just before the rainy sea-son, when they are drawn to the river to find water. There are 60 species of mammal in the park.

Beyond the main gate area, the park is quite uncrowd-ed, even though it is Zambia’s most popular in terms of visitor numbers. Visitors can expect to drive undisturbed for relatively long distances and to find ideal places for a sundowner or early-morning beverage.

The overall quality of the park is matched by high stand-ard of accommodation, which is concentrated mostly in a broad area near the main gate but across the river.

South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris and

every visitor should seize the opportunity to see wildlife on foot and to appreciate the finer details of nature as viewed close up. For many, following the spoor, examining identify-ing droppings and recording insect is as rewarding as a sight of the big cats- of which there are many in the park.

Of course, visitors primarily come to see the larger animals as well as some of the endemic subspecies of Luangwa Valley such as Thornicroft’s giraffe (of which there are thought to be about 1, 500) and Cookson, wildebeest (although this is largely confined to North Luangwa National Park). Crayshaw’s zebra is found in larger numbers in Lu-angwa than elsewhere.

Lion and leopard are so abundant that visitors can expect to see both, even on a short stay. Large herds of buffalo are another feature of the park.

The Luangwa River is home to impressive –looking Nile crocodiles and large pods of something fractious hippo. The park’s birdlife is equally fascinating, with a reported 400 species.

Luambe National Park

Often overlooked and sometimes forgotten alongside the bigger and much visited South Luangwa National Park, Luambe is 300 sq km of pure solitude impressively varied and often wooded landscape.

Energetically and sympathetically run since 1999 by the conservation charity Luangwa Wilderness e.v in close as-sociation with Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) with the support of local communities, the small park has bounced back to life from the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s when only a few shy animals remained.

The charity has built a lodge, but hopes one day to return the park to full ZAWA control and management and to ena-

ble Luambe to link up with some of the regions’ major national parks in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimba-bwe.

Like the neighboring North and South Luangwa national parks, Luambe is dominated by the river.

Visitors can expect to see elephant and hippo; predators such as lion, hyena and wild dog; plus buffalo, eland, zebra, puku, bushbuck, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, Cook-son’s wildebeest, waterbuck, impala, warthog and genet. Walking safaris are a popular way to view wildlife.

Sadly, the park’s sole properly, Luangwa wilderness lodge, is no longer in operation. The best way to reach Luambe is via the Waka Waka airstrip. The alternative is a long road journey from Mfuwe or Lilongwe (Malawi) Air-port