North Luangwa National Park
The remote 4,636km² North Luangwa National Park offers one of the finest wilderness experiences in Africa. It shares the same vegetation and wildlife as its neighbour, South Luangwa National Park, but until recently it has received little attention in terms of funding or conservation efforts. As a result, the park suffered, and poaching was rife. In 1986 American zoologists Mark and Delia Owens arrived in North Luangwa to conduct animal research. They fell in love with this pristine wilderness and over the next few years cultivated a number of anti-poaching initiatives amongst local communities. Today North Luangwa National Parks boasts some of the most zealous game rangers in Zambia, and conservation has resulted in healthy, growing populations of wildlife.
North Luangwa National Park is not open to the public and there are no permanent lodges here. Access is with one of the few local safari operators granted permission to conduct walking safaris in the park. The beauty of visiting this park is the truly remarkable opportunities to experience Africa as it was. It is wild and untouched and you are simply an unobtrusive witness to its natural beauty and drama.
A North Luangwa walking safari is a privilege. Numbers are strictly limited and you’re unlikely to see anyone else for the duration of your trip. Your walking safari will take you through a dazzling diversity of habitats, from lush riverine forests to mopane forests, open grasslands and acacia thickets. Here you will see beautiful sausage trees, laden with fruit, ivory palms, leadwoods and red mahogany trees.
There are a number of tributary rivers running through the park and into the park. The crystal clear Mwaleshi River trickles down the escarpment in a series of small waterfalls. It recedes in the dry season, leaving many pools along the way, drawing the animals from the bush to its banks in search of water. No game drives are permitted in this area – access is by walking safari only.
The park is noted for its massive herds of buffalo as well as large prides of lion. Other common mammals include hyaena, Cookson’s wildebeest, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, puku, hartebeest, reedbuck, eland and impala. Elephant and leopard are present but more elusive than in the neighbouring South Luangwa National Park. All of the 400 bird species sighted in South Luangwa are also found here.
photo copyright: Jules Shenton