4 REASONS TO VISIT NORTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
Pristine wilderness landscapes
North Luangwa is a remarkable opportunity to experience Africa as it was in years gone by. Wild and untouched, you are simply an unobtrusive witness to its purity as a naturally spectacular wilderness landscape. With three main rivers, wildlife-rich floodplains, well-maintained tracks, and far from the maddening crowds North Park offers a wild space like no other.Cascading waterfalls, open grassland, bird-filled forests, sandy rivers and stony streams provide a diverse array of habitats.Utterly remote, untouched and wild, North Park offers up one of the finest wilderness and wildlife experiences in Zambia, if not in Africa itself. This little-known park is Africa’s best kept tourism secret. The discerning traveller can see all the wildlife available elsewhere but without crowds, making it feel more like the authentic African adventure you have always imagined. This park is fast becoming one of the most exclusive and sought after safari destinations on the continent.
Unique and iconic wildlife
A haven for Zambia's only black rhino population as well as large populations of lion, buffalo and elephant makes North Luangwa a star in Zambia’s safari circuit. There introduced black rhinos of North Luangwa National Park are the only black rhinos in Zambia and represent the core conservation success story of this area. Historically home to Africa’s third largest population of black rhinos, the return of this mega-herbivore, following years of devastating poaching is an impressive conservation success story. Shy and elusive and, with restricted access to their high security area, sightings are occasional. With Zambia's largest elephant population, chances are you will very likely get up close and personal with these majestic land mammals on your visit. Likewise,North Park is known for having good numbers of lion, and large herds of buffalo– a must-see for the serious safari-goer. There are also large groups of hippos along the Luangwa River, making it one of the most wildlife rich areas in Africa. One of Africa’s most sought-after sightings Otherwise known as the 'painted wolf',this very sociable animal is now an endangered species, mostly due to ongoing habitat fragmentation, human wildlife conflict and infectious disease.
They have become a symbol for the need for increased conservation efforts worldwide. Cookson's wildebeest are endemic to the Luangwa, they are larger and more pleasing on the eye than their blue wildebeest cousins – a stunning liver/ silver colour easily seen in North Park. Frequently sighted on the floodplains of the Mwaleshi river, Crawshay's zebra are also endemic to Luangwa and Malawi and are considered the most stripy of zebras with the stripes reaching around their bellies and further down their legs.
Home to Zambia's legendary walking safaris
With limited road networks, North Park is one of the few parks in Zambia you can explore on foot and truly immerse yourself in the African wilderness. The safari guides are some of the most experienced in Zambia and due to the limited number of operators, it is unlikely you will see another soul over your entire safari. The walks aren’t designed to be route marches either – it’s all about taking in the epic wildlife and scenery and truly getting back to nature.
Rich habitats and meandering rivers
Wildlife relies on food and water resources to thrive and North Park offers that in abundance with rugged beauty. With the Mwaleshi river running throughout the year it offers some of the only water available during the late dry season, making it a magnet for wildlife. The floodplains are filled with prey species, which inevitably brings with it the predators. Lazy lions, bumping buffaloes, greedy zebra, laughing hyena and handsome warthogs gather along the banks to drink after the long hot African days.
A BRIEF HISTORY
In1984, Major John Harvey and his wife Lorna sought permission to conduct walking safaris in the area and for many years were the only operators in this remote wilderness. In 1986, Frankfurt Zoological Society formed a partnership with Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife to curb the poaching crisis in the area. They commissioned two scientists, Mark and Delia Owens, famous for their book ‘Cry of the Kalahari’, to set up a research station in the Park. This was the start of the current work that is now carried out by the NLCP that has since transformed the area into a symbol of conservation success in the region. NLCP continues to be committed to making the wider North Ecosystem entirely sustainable for the ecological, economic, social and cultural needs of all stakeholders for future generations
As access is remote, the best way to experience this park is with one of the tour operators running safaris here. Youcan fly in from Lusaka / Mfuwe / Mwanya with a charter aircraft to Mwaleshiairstrip. Alternatively, you can travel by car from Mpika (west)or from Chifunda chiefdom, Luambe NP, Chama or Lundazi (east)w. For this you will need a fully equipped 4WD vehicle, the experience to use them, and a high degree of self-sufficiency in this very remote and wild area
See the below tabs for more in-depth directions.
Download a tourist map here
The turning to North Luangwa National Park from the Great North Road is well signposted– about 60km northeast of Mpika, and 28km south of Shiwa Ng'andu. Turn east onto a simple track and follow it (one obvious fork, take the left) for 32km until reaching Mukungule village. At the t-junction turn left and follow the road around the village. It is another 12km to Mano Gate. This is the entrance gate to North Luangwa National Park. Sign in, pay park fees, and find out about the latest park news! Maps available to chart the route across the park andwhere to camp. The nearest accommodation to Mano Gate is Samala Community Camp- a self-catering community owned camp on the banks of the Mwaleshi river.
Approaching North Luangwa from Luambe, you'll be travelling on the east side of the Luangwa River – very much a continuation of the road from South Luangwa to Luambe. Leaving from Chipuka Scout Camp, which marks the northern edge of Luambe National Park,you'll be driving north through some very rural country with a scattering of remote villages. About 9km after the scout camp you need to take a very sharp left turn. Some 17km or so after that turn, you'll reach the very basic Zokwe Scout Camp, which is followed by a lovely stretch of undisturbed cathedral mopane woodland. Around 30km after Zokwe, there's a junction in the track at Chiweza village school keep going straight for approx. 22km to Luelo, when you reach their airstrip turn left. After 20km you will reach the pontoon to enter the North Park.
Charter Operators include:
When to travel
North Luangwa National Park has two distinct seasons - the ‘dry season’, from June to October and the ‘emerald season’, from November to May (all camps currently closed during this time). Temperatures during these seasons vary from lows of 10°C, in June and July, to highs of 40°C, in October. Even during the coldest period, the days remain warm, sunny and perfect for all safari-related activities. The late dry season (October) is the hottest but makes for the best game viewing, as all outlying water dries up and forces the wildlife to the rivers and last refuges of water. The emerald season, which can start as early as the end of October and typically draws to a close at the end of March, sees an impressive total rainfall of up to 900mm, with the odd cooling rain shower during April /May.
North Luangwa offers safari-goers one of the best wildlife and wilderness landscape experiences in Africa. With very little infrastructure in the park, you can experience Africa in its purest form. Made famous by its renowned walking safaris and world-class guides, you can experience wildlife the way the past explorers did, on foot, with the only sound being the music of nature. Day and night vehicle safaris are a popular activity offering you the chance to watch wildlife as the sun goes down with a cool drink in hand, or alternatively try a safari by mountain bike . Please note general access to the rhino area is not available to tourists and inquiries in this regard must be routed through the North Luangwa Conservation Programme.
Where to stay
There are very few lodges or camps in North Luangwa National Park and although they may not offer up opulent luxury of other more famous destinations, you are guaranteed a no frills, authentic African safari that is amongst the finest on the continent. On a busy day the chances of seeing any other guests are very,very low – with fewer than a dozen of more people in the entire Park.
Samala Community Camp
Visit the page for more info or bookings: www.northluangwa.org/samalacamp
Ituba Community Camp
Visit the page for more info or bookings: www.northluangwa.org/itubacamp
Visit the page for more info or bookings: www.northluangwa.org/amatololoexperience
Mwaleshi & Takwela Camps
There are few roads in this remote area and most activities are done on foot,following existing animal trails. All senses become attuned to the surrounding bush as guests experience the variations in the magical diversity of the area. Walkers enjoy the freedom of Africa's limitlessness on foot, accompanied by an experienced manager/guide and an armed National Park scout. Thanks to the availability of a vehicle - which drops off and collects guests – attractions further afield can be explored, such as the Mwaleshi Falls which is located upstream of the camp. RemoteArea Safaris also operate their own charter flights just a 45-minute flightfrom Mfuwe Airport.
Visit their website for more info or bookings: