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Informatie over nationale parken die we bezocht
hebben in Zambia

South Luangwe NP

Experts have dubbed South Luangwa as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the Luangwa river and it’s ox bow lagoons is among the most intense in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life blood of the park's 9050km2.    The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand.
The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.
If you’re staying at one of the Valley’s lodges, the guides will ensure you have every opportunity to see all that the valley has to offer of its wildlife, birds and varying vegetation and habitats. If you’re in your own vehicle, be sure to get a map of the park from the Crocodile Farm at the park entrance and follow the loop roads graded in the park, past dambos bursting with hippos, crowned cranes, grazing antelope and scurrying baboons. Further out on the plains you’re bound to see the large elephant herds, reaching up to 70 in number. Buffalo are abundant and spread throughout the valley.
The hippopotamus is one animal you won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be at least 50 hippos per kilometre of the Luangwa River!
Zebra can be seen running in small herds of about a dozen. The difference between Zambia’s zebras and those in the south and east of Africa are in the stripes. Here they are evenly spaced as opposed to broad light stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between.
Thornicroft’s Giraffe, unique to Luangwa Valley should be easily spotted.
The park has 14 different antelope species, most of which are easily seen on game and night drives. Watch out for the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely covered areas. The common duiker is not that common near the Luangwa river but inhabits the back country of the Luangwa Valley. The largest of the antelope is the eland, usually near the Nsefu sector of the park. The most numerous antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals can be seen in herds all over the park. Not to be confused with the Puku, of similar size but a much fluffier buck with a rich orange coat and also prolific. Perhaps the most beautiful is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and delicate face. Although fairly common, they’re not always easy to find due to their retiring habits and preference for dense bush.. Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer and oribi are all here but not prolific in the central tourist area of the Park. They tend to stay deeper in the remote parts towards the Muchinga escarpment.
Of the primates, baboons and vervet monkeys are prolific. More scarce is Maloney’s monkey. Present, but unlikely to be seen except on night drives is the night ape, and the nocturnal bushbaby.
Hyenas are fairly common throughout the valley and their plaintive, eerie cry, so characteristic of the African bush can be heard on most nights.
South Luangwa has a good population of leopard but they are not that easy to spot and tend to retreat when they hear vehicles. Many of the Lodge’s game trackers are skilled in finding leopards on night drives however, and often visitors are rewarded with a full view of a kill.
Lions are as plentiful in the Luangwa as anywhere else in Africa, but when a kill is made away from the central tourist area, the pride may stay away for several days and may not be seen by visitors on a short stay. Very often they roam in prides of up to thirty.
Of the other carnivores present but not often seen is the caracal, wild dog, serval and side striped jackal.
The Luangwa river also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.
Night drives are fascinating in the Luangwa. Not only for the chance of seeing a leopard but for the many interesting animals that only come to life at night. Genets, civets, servals, hyenas, and bushbabies as well as owls, nightjars, the foraging hippos, honey badgers and lion.
Birdwatching is superb in the Valley. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The red faced yellow billed storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The pelicans tend to operate in lines abreast, driving the fish before them into shallows before scooping them up into their beak pouches. The striking 1.6m saddle bill stork makes quick darting movements into the water. Then there’s the marabou stork, great white egrets, black headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that can stand in the same position for hours before pouncing. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in large flocks at the salt pans.
Around the same time, just before the rains set in, in November, the palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows. Swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way from Russia. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river.
The ever-present sounds of the birds in the Valley takes some getting used to. An early caller is the ground hornbill, looking like a well-dressed turkey, but emitting the sound of a deep base drum. The melodious Heuglin’s robin, the shrill cry of the fish eagle and the background cooing of doves and larks.
With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Valley, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.
For an enhanced experience of the bush, one would do well to develop an interest in the varying vegetation in Zambia. Some magnificent trees grow in the Valley and it certainly adds to the richness of one’s experience to begin to recognise different tree species and figure out the implications of them growing in that particular area.
Among the more common trees in the valley are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, some beautiful specimens of baobab, large ebony forests, the tall vegetable ivory palm, marula and the magnificent tamarind tree.
Mfuwe Airport recently achieved international status and various airlines were looking at scheduled flights from abroad.
Domestic flights operate about ten times a week in peak season (June-Oct) from Lusaka. Check with any travel agent for schedules.
Charter planes from outside the country can now fly direct without clearing customs at Lusaka and there are a number of charter companies in Zambia, that can fly to and from Zambia’s top destinations. All lodges do transfers to and from the airport. Zambian Airways has scheduled flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe. Air Malawi has scheduled flights from Lilongwe to Mfuwe.
While you await your flight or before you head off to the bush, don't miss a visit to Jake's Moondog Cafe just outside the airport. An excellent bush bar with ice cold beers and great food. Next door is the famous Magenge Crafts Shop with an impressive collection of fine arts and crafts made by the local artists and craftsmen in the valley.
Driving, one can approach from three sides. The usual route is from Chipata. This is a good road if a little corrugated and the 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, just outside the Park. If travelling in a robust 4x4 from Lusaka, it is possible to take a short cut from the Great East Road at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. Only to be attempted well into the dry season. A good overnight stop along the way is at the Luangwa River Bridge at Bridge Camp.
The Northern access is from Mpika on the Great North Road or Lundazi, near Zambia’s eastern border with Malawi. Just below Mpika, there is a road running down the Munyamadzi Corridor between North and South Luangwa Parks. It is passable but only in 4WD and preferably with two vehicles as help is a long way away. The mountain pass down the escarpment is quite formidable, very rocky and bumpy but the view over this, the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, is quite spectacular.
Seasonal changes are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month when game concentrations are at their height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August. The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green, and the dry bleak terrain becomes a lush jungle. The rainy season lasts up until the end of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Each lodge stays open for as long as access is possible, depending on its location in the area. See below in brackets.
There are many varied places to stay in the Valley ranging from luxurious safari camps to budget chalets and camping. Most of the lodges are spread along the east bank of the Luangwa River, in the adjoining Game Management Area, conducting game drives and walking safaris along the west bank, in the Park itself. Some of the Lodges have bush camps deep in the Park for remote walking safaris.

Track and Trail River camp is a lodge that opened in 2006. Track and Trail River camp is located on the banks of the Luangwa River overlooking the South Luangwa National Park, the park’s main entrance only 5 minutes away, Track & Trail River Camp is as enchanting as its surroundings. The comfortable chalets reflect the rustic theme of ‘Simply safari escape’. Discover the campsite at a prime spot on the Luangwa River, each camping spot ensures sufficient privacy, offering. Track and Trail River camp has it's own price range with a great price/quality.

Kaingo is a small, very comfortable lodge, one of the few inside the Park itself, with an emphasis on personalised walking safaris and game drives. Mwamba Bush Camp is three hours walk north of Kaingo set under shady ebony trees along the Mwamba River. The emphasis here is mainly on Walking Safaris; it is an excellent game area. An ideal safari includes three nights at Kaingo and three at Mwamba Camp. Both camps are owned and operated by Derek Shenton, son of former Park Warden and prominent conservationist, Barry Shenton. (Open: 20 May - 31 Oct)
One of the more well known and established lodges is Kapani, built by Norman Carr, the ‘father’ of conservation in Zambia. It has comfortable brick and tile chalets and top quality catering. (All year). Kapani runs three bush camps in the Park during the dry season; Luwi, Kakuli and Nsolo with the emphasis on walking safaris. (June to October) RUn by Norman Carr Safaris.
Mfuwe Lodge is a fine luxury lodge in one of the South Luangwa's prime locations, built between busy lagoons within the Park iteself. They  have two Trail Camps, for walking safaris operating from July to October. Otherwise the main lodge is open all year round.
Chinzombo, part-owned by another of the Valley’s forefathers Phil Berry is a comfortable shady lodge with a pool and excellent cuisine, offering game drives and walking safaris.. (All year)
Tena Tena is a luxurious tented camp under a shad mahogany grove in the northern section run by Robin Pope, a well-known safari expert. (June to October). The Popes also own the picturesque Nkwali Camp further south, which boasts the ‘best bar in the Valley.’ (April to December) and Nsefu, the oldest camp with a spectacular view across the Luangwa River.
The Bush Camp Company  has walking Trails through the Park staying at their four very comfortable bush camps along the Luangwa River.
Chibembe is a thatched grass and reed 12 bedded lodge at the confluence of the Chibembe and Luangwa Rivers. All rooms are shaded by massive mahogany and acacia trees, with en-suite bathrooms. Chibembe has two walking safari camps in the Park.
Another well-known wildlife expert, John Coppinger has a small exclusive camp called Tafika, just north of the Nsefu Sector of the Park. Their specialities, apart from the usual Game drives and walks, are microlighting over the surrounding Game Management Area and river safaris down the Luangwa at high water in February and March (June - Oct) just north of the Nsefu Sector of the Park. Their specialities, apart from the usual Game drives and walks, are microlighting over the surrounding Game Management Area and river safaris down the Luangwa at high water in February and March (June - Oct).
The newest Lodge in the Valley is Kafunta. Each spacious log cabin is made from natural material with a splendid view over the winding Luangwa River.
About 23km south of Mfuwe is Tundwe, perfectly sited under an enormous canopy of evergreen trees with large A-frame thatch chalets overlooking the river.  (May - Nov)
Luamfwa is another of the Valley’s oldest lodges, recently refurbished and nestling in a very remote section of the park itself. Its wooden chalets overlook a busy lagoon. (June - Oct).
Other camps are Kapamba Trails Camp on the Kapamba River in the southern section of the Park. (June - Oct). Muchenje Camp, run by Savannah Trails. (June to Oct).
For the budget traveller, Jake’s Flatdogs has four very comfortable and airy, self catering chalets for rent as well as a fully serviced camping site with excellent ablution facilities, a fully equipped kitchen with a cook on hand, a bar and a take away restaurant. This you’ll find at the Crocodile Farm near the entrance to the Park. Walks, night drives and game drives in open vehicles are available. (All year)
The Wildlife Camp also has self catering chalets for hire a camp site and a good bar/restaurant with a great view. They also offer game drives and walking safaris. (All year)
Backpackers could also try Ulendo Rest House in Mfuwe village, just outside the Park on the main road - it offers simple accommodation and traditional food. (All year)
All the bigger lodges offer game drives, night drives and walking safaris as part of the package. Budget lodges charge separately for these services.
Mobile Walking Safaris are run in the wild and remote sections of the park. Camps are set up ahead of you and moved on to the next site while guests take a slow and adventurous walk through the bush.  Robin Pope Safaris (June to September)

Lower Zambezi NP

This is Zambia’s newest Park and as such is still relatively undeveloped, but it’s beauty lies in it’s absolute wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the river is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
The rivers edge is overhung with a thick riverine fringe, mostly diasporus, ficus and other riverine species. Further inland is a floddplain fringed with mopane forest and interspersed with winterthorn trees Acacia albida. The hills which form the backdrop to the park are covered in broadleaf woodland.
The Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4092 square kilometers, but most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor.There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the parks animal species.Enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, are often seen at the rivers edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard and listen too for the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle.
One can drive into the National Park on one’s own but it is very underdeveloped and not really structured for vehicle visitors yet. The existing lodges and canoeing operators provide the best access to the park. They all offer pick-ups from either Lusaka or Chirundu (where there is a small motel) or Kariba in Zimbabwe.
The Chongwe River demarcates the western boundary of the park and can be accessed from Chirundu along a rough road (4x4 recommended), crossing the Kafue River by pontoon just beyond Gwabi Lodge.
From April there will be a pontoon that crosses the Zambezi from Luangwa Town to Kanyemba in Zimbabwe and to Zumbo in Mozambique. All at the Zambezi/Luangwa confluence.
There are three lodges on the lower Zambezi, two in the park and one just outside in a private wildlife sanctuary. They are all reached by arrangement as access is usually by motor boat along the Zambezi.
Chiawa Camp has luxury tented, en suite accommodation for 14 guests. Their speciality is gameviewing by motorboat, by open vehicle in the park, night drives, bush walks, canoeing, river cruises and angling safaris. Operating season is from May to October.
Chongwe River Camp, found at the Chongwe River and Zambezi confluence, opposite Mana Pools. It has 3 self catering chalets and only 5 campsites under the canopy of huge Acacia trees. Unparalleled tiger fishing area, with great game and bird viewing opportunities.
Sausage Tree Camp is run by Tongabezi and offers superb comfort in a rustic setting on the banks of the River. Canoeing safaris as well as game drives and night drives, walks in the bush, birding trails and often you can just sit in your tent and watch the action!
Kiambi Safari has three up-market lodges on the Zambian banks of the Lower Zambezi River. These well designed Camps have been carefully positioned in keeping with the unspoiled wilderness of the area. Kiambi Camp offers superb views over the Zambezi and Kafue Rivers and is only 20km from the Chirundu Border, Kiubo Camp is in the Chiawa Game Management Area opposite Mana Pools National Park and Kulefu Camp is in the remote Lower Zambezi National Park.
Royal Zambezi Lodge  has it's own 3.5 kilometers of unspoiled river frontage and is flanked by a back drop of scenic mountains. Fly in to the Royal Zambezi's private air strip in the comfort of a chartered aircraft only half an hour's flight from Lusaka.
Two great new Camps have recently opened, one on the River bank, Mtondo River Camp and another further up the escarpment with magnificent views of the Zambezi Shafumbi Mountain Camp.
For an affordable option, there is Kwalata Bush Camp, a comfortable campsite situated on the banks of the river, 45 km before the National Park in the GMA.
Kingfisher Lodge is further down the Mpata Gorge near the confluence with the Luangwa River. This small but exclusive lodge is exquisitely situated on a bend in the River with not a soul in sight. They also offer gameviewing by boat and on land as well as fishing expeditions up the gorge and their speciality is flyfishing.
Kayila is set on a terraced lawn, with four luxury chalets on the rivers edge. There is a honeymoon suite with an enormous rock pool for a bath and the last chalet is a treehouse way up in the boughs of an enormous sausage tree. It has the quaintest guest toilet right in the middle of a naturally hollowed Baobab tree.
Mvuu Lodge located in an attractive setting  in the GMA is a self catering as well as a fully catered (on request) tented camp. There is also a camp site for those on a budget.
The best way to experience the magnificence of this river is to take a canoeing trip down the channels. Karibu Safaris runs popular  6 day canoeing safari with limited participation camping along the Zambezi river and into the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Safari Par Excellence and Tongabezi Safaris do 2, 3, 4 and five day trips. Very comfortable camps are erected along the river in the national park about 15 - 20 kms apart.
In Chirundu at the Zimbabwe/Zambia border, there is a simple motel, the Nyambadwe, offering very basic accomodation for overnight stops. More comfortable and picturesque is Gwabi Lodge on the banks of the Kafue River, close to its confluence with the Zambezi.
Fishing is good along the river, all three lodges offer fishing with rods and simple tackle provided. Healthy Tiger fish and bream catches are common as well as vundu, a member of the catfish family, weighing up to 50 kilograms. Strangely, cheap strong smelling soap is an excellent bait.
Canoeing is a must. The lodges will provide day long canoeing trips. Float down the river at your leisure and they’ll pick you up in a speedboat at the end of the day to bring you back.
Several operators run 3 - 5 day trips, overnighting at very comfortable bush camps on the banks of the river. These are highly recommended. The river has a strong enough current to take you easily down the river with little effort. The river guides will take you down remote channels between the islands where your opportunities to get close to game are very high. Hippos are always in sight, elephant, zebra, puku, impala, buffalo, kudu and baboons can be seen browsing on the banks from the laid back comfort of your canoe. See Adventure Companies.
Safari Par Excellence also offer ‘participatory’ canoeing trips of any duration. All gear is carried in the canoes and camps are erected on islands in the river along the way. Everyone gets involved in setting up camp and cooking. These trips are obviously cheaper and a touch less comfortable, but the thrill of the wilderness is that much more intense.
Karibu Safaris  a canoeing safari with limited participation camping (no equipment carried in the canoes, excellent meals prepared by crew). Guests are met at Kariba and are transferred to exclusive campsites on the banks of the Zambezi.  Guests canoe their way down the river with their experienced and knowledgeable river guides, staying at a different camp site each night. 6 day and 4 day packages are offered.
Game drives and walking safaris offered by the lodges and camps provide excellent game viewing opportunities.
The ecological unit of LZNP and the Chiawa Game Management Area support a relatively large population of mammals. The escarpment and plateau regions are largely inaccessible and have not been formally surveyed. The valley floor, although a small area is host to many of the bigger mammals, elephant, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, and crocodiles, impala and warthog. Occasionally, roan, eland and the Samango monkey. Nocturnal animals here are hyaena, porcupine, civet, genet and honeybadger.
The birdlife along the riverbanks is exceptional. Many a fish eagle can be seen and heard for miles around. Nesting along the cliffs are white fronted and carmine bee eaters. Another unusual the red winged pratincole, the elegant crested guinea fowl, black eagle, and vast swarms of quelea. In summer the stunning narina trogon makes its home here. Other specialities are the trumpeter hornbill, Meyers parrot and Lilian’s lovebird.
The vegetation in the area is predominated by Acacia albida trees, a thorn species 10 - 30m high with the classical shady umbrella canopy. It is able to tolerate sandier soils than other woodland species and serves to stabilise infertile sandbanks and reduce erosion. Winterthorn pods are also remarkably nutritious to elephants who digest it leaving about 40% intact, thereby contributing to its proliferation.
The best time is mid season from June to September, but all lodges and canoeing operators are open from April to November. Kayila lodge is open all year. Fishing is at its best in September / October.

copyright: Paul Janssen