Our South Luangwa Birding & Big Game Extension visits this teeming “Big Five” reserve in eastern Zambia, famous for its magnificent game diversity and incredibly rich birdlife. We will be spending three nights in this magnificent National Park and will work the network of roads in an attempt to locate the mammals and birds that inhabit this vast wilderness.
Amongst the avian highlights, we will look for screeching flocks of Lilian’s Lovebirds as they dash overhead; and, if the summer rains have arrived in time, the highly sought-after African Pitta that breeds in the park (though we will require a hefty dose of luck to find this special species!). The Luangwa River flowing through the park is also well known for its massive breeding colonies of Yellow-billed Stork, Southern Carmine and White-fronted Bee-eaters, and Horus Swifts. Special summer birds that come in with the rains include African Skimmer, Allen’s Gallinule, Dwarf Bittern, Great Snipe and African Crake; while the massive trees overhanging the rivers’ quiet backwaters are the haunts of the ever-desirable Pel’s Fishing Owl.
Lilian’s Lovebird, Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Skimmer, Great Snipe, Greater Painted-snipe, African Crake, Allen’s Gallinule, Dwarf Bittern, chance for African Pitta, Racket-tailed Roller
African Wild Dog, Leopard, Lion, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Thornicroft’s Giraffe, Cookson’s Wildebeest
rivers, riverine woodland, broad-leaved woodland
warm to hot & humid with a chance for rain
african megafauna, pristine wilderness
Day 1: Lilongwe to South Luangwa National Park
This morning, we will embark on the drive towards Zambia where our destination, the incredible South Luangwa National Park, awaits us. By mid-morning, we will cross the border into Zambia and will be well on our way to the Park. This prolific “Big Five” reserve is one of Africa’s great wildlife reserves and has one of the highest concentrations of Leopard in the world, as well as extremely high game densities in general. We will be spending three nights in this magnificent National Park and will work the network of roads in an attempt to locate the mammals and birds that inhabit this vast wilderness.
Days 2 & 3: South Luangwa National Park
Waking up and smelling the crisp, clean air is always a great sensation and when awakening in South Luangwa one cannot help feeling that this is an extremely special place that makes one just want to get out there and explore!
We have two full days of our Zambia bird safari to do just that and what better way than on an early morning game drive taking in the various sights and sounds. While the two most common antelope in the park are Impala and Puku, there are many rarer, localised species including Thornicroft’s Giraffe, Cookson’s Wildebeest, Crawshay’s Zebra, Common Bushbuck, Common Waterbuck, Eland, Greater Kudu, Common Reedbuck, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Sable and Sharpe’s Grysbok. Hippo and Crocodile are also extremely common in the Luangwa River. With the vast amounts of game that abound there is obviously going to be a number of predators to take advantage of the offerings. We, therefore, stand a good chance of spotting Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena and the less commonly seen African Wild Dog. Bird numbers are considerable, especially in the riverine woodlands, as well as our lodge grounds. Mopane woodland is well represented throughout the park and Lilian’s Lovebirds can often be heard screeching as they dash overhead. Meves’s Starling and White-browed Sparrow-Weaver also do their fair share to add to the avian noise. The Luangwa River is well known for its massive breeding colonies of Yellow-billed Stork, Southern Carmine and White-fronted Bee-eaters and Horus Swifts. The massive trees overhanging the rivers’ quiet backwaters are the haunts of the ever-popular and desirable Pel’s Fishing Owl. Many other birds are associated with the river and oxbow lakes that have formed over time. Good numbers of African Skimmer, African Spoonbill, various ducks, lapwings, storks, herons and egrets occur. Other birds to look out for on this Zambia bird safari include Greater Painted-Snipe and the splendid Grey Crowned Crane.
Day 4: South Luangwa National Park to Lilongwe and departure
Today, we will leave the beautiful, game, and bird, rich South Luangwa Valley and make our way back across the border towards Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, where our tour will conclude.