Back to Zambia! You guys seemed to like my last post about Siavonga, so I thought I’d tell you more about this beautiful, yet underrated country. Today we will have a look at one of the activities many African countries are famous for: safari! In the past, I was lucky enough to have had the chance to go on safari in Namibia, Uganda, Botswana and then Zambia a few times. South Luangwa is definitely among the top three of safari experiences!
South Luangwa National Park is based in the east of Zambia by the Luangwa river. Many experts and tourists alike say that it is one of the best wildlife parks worldwide – and although I haven’t visited enough national parks in the world to make that statement, I am sure they are right! South Luangwa covers 9059 sq km and hosts a vast variety of animals and plants. Thanks to poachers, the rhino is extinct in this park. Rangers are trying to bring the black rhino back by breeding and protecting it in North Luangwa, where tourists are not allowed to go at the moment (luckily!).
How to get there
The park is located near the town Mfuwe, which you will have to go through to get to your lodge or to enter the park. You have two options: drive or fly. I did this while my mom was visiting me, and although we had a car rented for the first week when we went to Siavonga and Livingston, we decided to fly, as the drive from Lusaka to Mfuwe is quite long.
Another, definitely quicker and more comfortable way is to fly with a small machine. It will take you 1 hour instead of the entire day. This can be quite the adventure if you haven’t ever sat in such a small plane before! Prices can be really cheap if you book in time – check Proflight for your options. Make sure to look out the window – the view is amazing!
From luxury accommodation to tents, the choice is yours. There are plenty of lodges around Mfuwe right by the entrance to the park, as well as some right in the park. The advantage of staying outside the park is that you only have to pay park fees for the days you are actually going on Safari. Say you are staying one night more to catch a flight in the morning, you wouldn’t want to pay your park fee.
We stayed in Marula Lodge, which I can only recommend. Tripadvisor agrees! The hosts and staff are extremely friendly and helpful, the rooms (we had a private en-suite double room) are comfortable and clean, and the location is perfect – about an hour from the airport and right at the edge of the park. You can sit down on a bench by the Luangwa river, watch the hippos grunt and spot some cool birds. Monkeys are all over the place, and when the sun sets, antelopes, hippos and sometimes elephants decide to come up and taste some grass right next to you (this is why you can only leave your bungalow with a guard when it is dark – you wouldn’t want to bump into an angry hippo!)
With a safari package, all your meals are included: breakfast, a snack during your morning safari, lunch, tea, another snack during your evening safari, followed by a three-course dinner! In between safaris, you get to lounge by the pool, read in the shade of the trees, or do whatever else you want! We really had the perfect stay and I have never seen my mom so relaxed.
Now we get to the important part: safaris! You can choose between walking safaris and game drives. Although a walking safari would have been cool and South Luangwa is famous for them, we opted not to do them because rainy season had just ended and the grass was still quite high. Our four game drives were simply incredible. I am just going to let the photos speak for themselves:
What else to do
From Marula Lodge, you can easily walk into the nearby village (which I forgot the name of). Our flight back was shortly after noon, so we asked our host if we could stop by place called Textile Fabrics in Mfuwe. It was well worth the visit! We got a tour and then visited the shop to see and buy the beautiful handmade products! Perfect for bringing back some souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
And then we took the plane back. South Luangwa truly was a magical experience and I would go back anytime if I could. Money well spent!
Have you ever been to South Luangwa National Park? What was it like and where did you stay?