The presence of intense concentrations of wildlife and pristine wilderness scenery makes a luxury South Luangwa safari a quintessential Zambia safari experience. Like many of the country’s reserves, South Luangwa National Park undergoes a radical transformation as the seasons change, but here there’s year-round access.
As water levels drop, the Luangwa River becomes a lifeline for the park’s animals, which interestingly include two endemics: Thornicroft’s giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest. Our night drives were also prolific, and I’ll never forget watching a moonlit wild-dog hunt. And once known as the ‘Valley of the Elephant’, and you’ll find your encounters with South Luangwa’s gentle giants particularly poignant.
The region lies at the tail-end of the Great Rift Valley, and with so many activity options you might feel torn when it came to choosing what to do each day. We particularly enjoyed discovering the lagoons and shady trees of the Mfuwe region, and I can certainly recommend a stop at the bush spa – being able to watch game while you enjoy an indulgent treatment using local, seasonal ingredients makes the whole experience doubly relaxing.
You’ll get an authentic sense of exploration on combined walking and camping safaris. These typically last five nights, and we loved the sense of purpose it gave to our South Luangwa experience, with the opportunity to sleep in a different location each night. If you’d prefer an abbreviated version, opt for a one-night fly-camping adventure, which is equally thrilling.
Finally, for an insight into rural life visit Kawaza village, where Kunda tribeswomen in colourfully-printed wraps flash brilliant smiles from beneath the bundles of firewood on their heads.