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Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Yardley...
posts: 9
reviews: 19
Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Has anyone been to all three sectors of South Luangwa - North, Central and Southern? I'm wondering if game viewing is better in one section or another. Agents say it's all good, of course. I'll be going mid-June 2013.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,398
1. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Well, they are all different and good for different things.

The north is my personal favourite- it's much more open and I've definitely had far better lion sightings in the north. However, because the lions are so dominant, you've got less chance of seeing wild dogs, especially on the west side of the Luangwa around the aptly named Lion Camp. If you can only go to one camp my choice would be one in that area (Lion Camp or Kaingo) or the Nsefu sector across the river (I like Tafika, but Robin Pope also has camps there).

The centre has the disadvantage of being busy. However, June shouldn't be too bad. On the plus side, the game is much more relaxed so you might get closer sightings. For example, in some of the more remote areas where the camps are shut for a lot of the year, the leopards don't just hang around in trees while you take photos of them- they are more likely to jump down and run away!

I like the area around Chichele which is south of the centre but not the far south. This is medium busy as there is a pontoon into this area from Nkwali camp, which several of the camps on the other side of the river use to access the park. However, it's a stunning area.

So if you can do 2 camps then a good combination with a northern camp would be one in the centre or in the Chichele area, or one that can access the Nkwali pontoon.

I'm not a huge fan of the far south- too much mopane once you get away from the area near the river, and there's not much lion activity partly due to the proximity of the GMA (hunting areas). Having said that, it's excellent leopard territory- I saw 3 on one night drive while staying at Chindeni and they said their record was 7. However, my feeling is that this is more of a walking area.

I'd also recommend including a proper bush camp which focusses on walking. My favourites are Kuyenda (Bush Camp company), Luwi (Norman Carr) or the Chikoko trails camps which are owned by Remote Africa safaris (same as Tafika).

Yardley...
posts: 9
reviews: 19
2. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Thanks so much! I've only been to the far south in the park, where we did see leopard and lion, but compared to Botswana, the game is very shy and sparse. I loved the vistas, guides and hospitality provided by Bushcamps, so will return there for part of the trip, but an definitely going to include the northern sector this time. I really appreciate your comments about individual camps.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,398
3. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

How long do you have in the park in total?

Yardley...
posts: 9
reviews: 19
4. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

We will be there for 12 nights, but I want to spend one night in the middle of the trip in Kawaza Village, and must re-visit Chamilandu.

Wayzata, Minnesota
posts: 2,355
reviews: 17
5. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Hi Gail,

I spent most of September (two months ago) in Zambia with a long time in South Luangwa. I did get a chance to go to every part of the park except the far south. The last camp in the far south just shut down for good. It was the Wilderness Safari's camp called Kalamu Lagoon. I did not go there but we have sent our staff over the years and the animal viewing was not good.

Based on the lodges that are currently open, the photo safari lodges that are the furthest South in the park are all owned by Bushcamp Company. This is a great operation. I was at Mfuwe, Chindeni, and Bilimungwe. We saw lion on every game drive and leopard on every night drive so I would say it is good animal viewing but it definitely is more forested than the north.

In the central sector, I also had good animal viewing at Puku (3 minutes from Chichele). I also arrived at Puku first using the pontoon from the airport. We saw lion and leopard here as well. It was quite sparse for vegetation in this area and I really prefer Puku to the Chichele.

I did stay at Norman Carr’s Luwi Camp and also Mchenja and Kakuli. Of all the places in the park, I found Luwi to have the lightest animal viewing. But, the animal viewing around Mchenja and Kakuli was good with lions and leopards again. I attribute it to their location on the river. Luwi is not on the river and does not have nutritious flood plains nearby.

I was able to visit the Shenton Camps as well staying at Kainga but also seeing the rustic bush camp Mwamba which I thought would be great! We had excellent animal viewing here - probably the best of my entire time in the park. These two camps are also very close to Lion Camp which is the one camp most like the lodges in Botswana (classic Wilderness Safari lodges, Kwando, etc). Tafika is great and they drive in the same area as Nsefu which I also stayed at. I did not do a night drive here but we saw lion on all day drives and honey badger.

So – I think the remaining lodges in the park are all fantastic for animal viewing. It was incredibly productive.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond

Yardley...
posts: 9
reviews: 19
6. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Thanks, Craig! So many good choices! I can hardly wait!

I hadn't been able to find much info on Lion Camp and was interested to read your comparison of it with Kwando camps, which I have really enjoyed. Lion Camp seems a bit large, though. Shenton camps seem to be a better size for me.

Wayzata, Minnesota
posts: 2,355
reviews: 17
7. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

Shenton Camp has the only female, American guide in all of Zambia!

I think Shentons would pair well with Old Mondoro in Lower Zambezi or Goliath in Mana Pools.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,398
8. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

I'm not suggesting staying at Chichele, by the way. It's just such a landmark (some would say eyesore :)) it's an easy point of reference for the area.

I was at Luwi and Nsolo this August and had some of the best lion sightings on foot ever. That area is also usually good for wild dogs, although the guides said they'd seen less of the dogs this year- possibly because there were more lions around than usual.

Wayzata, Minnesota
posts: 2,355
reviews: 17
9. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

To be honest, I spent a whole afternoon at Luwi sitting at the hippo/croc pool. A giant hippo had just died and 30 crocs were eating it. So, I did not give the game drives a fair shot. This would lead me to say everything north of Mfuew is excellent!

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,398
10. Re: Which section of South Luangwa is best for game viewing?

I wouldn't really do game drives at Luwi and Nsolo, although they can offer them if guests want them. They're more walking camps.

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