South Luangwa

South Luangwa National Park

At 9050 square kilometres South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s second largest national park.

Situated at the end of the Great Rift Valley, the steep banks of the Muchinga Escarpment form the park's western boundary and the Luangwa River forms most of the eastern boundary, with the exception of the Nsefu and Luamfwa sectors.

Flowing for over 800km from its source in the remote hills of North Eastern Zambia into the Zambezi, the Luangwa River is the lifeblood of the Luangwa valley. As it winds along the valley floor creating oxbow lagoons and open plains, alluvial deposits have resulted in rich soils capable of supporting high quality grassland, woodland and forest.

This environment is capable of sustaining huge concentrations of game and the park hosts 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species.

The South Luangwa National Park is not just an animal refuge, but a living, breathing ecosystem – carefully preserved and fiercely protected, no hunting is allowed within its boundaries. 

Our Position

Where is the Camp

Lion Camp is situated on an oxbow lagoon at the top end of the plain. Being furthest from the gate at the top end of South Luangwa National park, Lion Camp is able to offer visitors an authentic safari experience where guests are at-one with nature, with little interference from other vehicles and visitors. Our game drives includes savannah, woodland and riverside areas. Our guides are extremely familiar with the area, and are able to read and anticipate animal behaviour - putting guests in the right place at the right time.
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Mammals of the Luangwa

The Luangwa valley has a reputation for being 'leopard country' as it has the world's highest naturally occurring population of leopard. Being situated on the edge of Lion Plain, lions pass through regularly, usually on their way to or from the river, and Lion Camp is perfectly positioned to enjoy observing this activity, often from the comfort of our own deck.

Other predators seen regularly include wild dogs - denning just outside camp at the time of writing - along with spotted hyena, who often skulk through the perimeters of camp just as the sun has gone down.

The Luangwa is also known for huge concentrations of hippo and crocodiles, whose numbers become more and more apparent as the water in the Luangwa river shrinks to a trickle leading up to the rains, creating spectacular interactions and giving guests incredible photo opportunities.

There are a few special mammals that are endemic to the Luangwa that we are lucky to see regularly: Thornicroft's giraffe, Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra.

Visitors at Lion Camp regularly see eland, rarely sighted in the southern end of the park, as well as a diverse range of the other mammals which gather in large numbers towards the end of the season; great herds of Cape buffalo can be seen in their thousands along with huge family groups of elephant, and all the other wonderful antelope such as kudu, puku, impala.

The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction. 

Birds of the Luangwa

The Luangwa could hardly be better for birds too, as some 400 species can be found here.

From the powerful raptors gliding overhead, to the colourful tropical birds darting between branches, the quelea swooping from bush to water and back again in their thousands and the jewel-like malachite kingfisher fishing with arrow-like efficiency. There is plenty here to keep birdwatchers of all levels entertained.

What will stay with you is the sound. The haunting call of the fish eagle, the constant calming cooing of the dove, the shrill call of the 'go away' bird.

The riverbanks play host to vast colonies of iridescent carmine bee-eaters arriving in the middle of the dry season and building nests through September and October. A photographer's dream.

Near the end of the dry season visitors can see the famous 'fishing parties', where hundreds of waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows - pelicans, storks, egrets and herons, all seemingly working together to catch the last of the fish before lagoons dry up.

Some of the finest sundowners have been spent quietly sipping on a gin and tonic while watching skimmers performing their routine on the river. 

Check List
Bird & Mammal Check List

Download our checklists below! 

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Vegetation of the Luangwa

The Luangwa valley's soils were originally volcanic and naturally rich in minerals and nutrients. Thanks to the addition of plenty of sunshine and annual heavy rainfall this provides the perfect base for a rich plant growth that supports the whole eco system.

The meandering Luangwa River creates scenic oxbow lagoons set amongst riverine vegetation of mahogany and sausage trees. In pockets along the river the majestic ebony forms dense shaded groves - great places to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee mid game drive.

The Luangwa would not be complete without the extraordinary baobab, the tamarind and the wild mango - with all the activity that surrounds the fruiting seasons.

The woodland areas contain a selection of mopani and leadwood trees - recognisable by their deeply textured silvery bark.

Between these wooded areas are savannahs, large patches of grasslands where grazers such as zebras and antelope can often be found. There are few open plains in the Luangwa. You might find giraffes snacking on an acacia, and elephants picking up the gloriously coloured seed pods beneath a winterthorn.

The Luangwa benefits from having a diverse landscape that is lush and diverse, and extremely photogenic, whatever the season. 

"Lion Camp not only exceeded our expectations, but did so by a long way ... One lunch time we came back from a game drive to find the local lion pride in the shade under our room; a little later a herd of hundreds of Cape buffalo came to drink at the water hole, blackening the savannah into the distance"
Lion Camp Guest

The changing seasons are very pronounced, adding a sense of drama to the whole experience of being at Lion Camp - from the dusty, dry bushveld of the winter, to the lush, green paradise of summer.

The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, and November sees the start of the rains which invariably last through to March.

Visitors in the first half of the dry season will benefit from relaxed animals, cooler temperatures and a more lush landscape, where visitors in the second half of the dry season are likely to see greater numbers of animals congregating at the river, and a more muted landscape, and could experience temperatures in the low 40s.

Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Temp 23c/28c 23c/28c 22c/28c 21c/28c 20c/27c 18c/26c 17c/26c 20c/30c 25c/34c 27c/35c 27c/34c 25c/30c
Rainfall 430mm 394mm 298mm 79mm 17mm 3mm 4mm 3mm 3mm 14mm 131mm 449mm
Condition Wet Wet Wet Wet Dry Dry Warm Warm Hot Hot Hot Hot
Zambia FAQs

We are happy to answer more questions, please fill out the form below or email us

Why Zambia?

English speaking Zambia is a peaceful, friendly and welcoming country. Independent since 1964 it is a country of rich culture and vibrant contrasts, where it is possible to experience both an exclusive safari, and the thrill of Victoria Falls. The north of Zambia offers rustic adventures to see Kasanka's bats, the Shoebill at Bangweulu or the historic fascination of Shiwa Ng'andu. Livingstone with the magnificent Victoria Falls sits at the foot of the country with Lower Zambezi, and the wonderful Kafue National Park and Liuwa Plains lie in the Western regions. Contact us if you would like assistance putting together a Zambian adventure.

Do I need a visa to enter Zambia?

Entry visas are needed for most passports and are available on arrival in Lusaka. The current cost for most passport holders is US$50 for a single entry visa. Multiple entry visas are also available at a higher fee of US$80. We are happy to advise you on the latest charges / requirements – please enquire when booking.

When can I stay at Lion Camp?

Lion Camp is open from the end of May to the end of October which is Zambia’s dry season. 

When is the best time to visit?

There is no one answer to this question, as each month has its own merits. If you come between June and August, expect exceptional game viewing, at a comfortable temperature. From September to October, you can expect even higher concentrations of game, with more action, however it is extremely hot (up to 40 C) and dry.

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News from Camp
Latest News
22 August 2018

News August 2018

For those of you who haven't yet had a chance to visit the newly reopened Lion Camp, let us take you on a visual tour. Renowned lodge photographer, Stevie Mann, was in camp a few weeks ago shooting our…

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13 July 2018

Lion Camp Review

With Lion Camp recently opening its doors we thought it would be useful to share the feedback from one of our first guests; Stefan Schimd, who also kindly provided us with these stunning images. 

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8 May 2018

News May 2018

May is here and there is much excitement in camp as we build up to opening later this month.

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