This park is large, wild and spectacular, but nowhere near as developed or set up for tourism as its southern counterpart. The big draw of North Luangwa is its walking safaris, where you can get up close to the wildlife in a truly remote wilderness.
The range of wildlife is similar to South Luangwa’s (except there are no giraffes), and the park is particularly famous for its small population of black rhino, huge buffalo herds (sometimes up to 1000-strong), which in turn attract large numbers of lions and hyenas.
The bush in North Luangwa is dense in places, so the animals are slightly hard to see, and there are very few tracks for vehicles, so the emphasis is firmly on walking. North Luangwa’s eastern boundary is the Luangwa River, but the heart of the park is the Mwaleshi River – a permanent watercourse and vital supply for wildlife.
While all the black rhino in the valley were wiped out by the late 1980s (Zambia once had one of the largest populations of black rhino in the world), over the last decade nearly 30 have been introduced to a specially protected area of the park, thanks in large part to the Frankfurt Zoological Society (www.zgf.de), the conservation group working with ZAWA to protect the park.
It’s important to note that most of the southern part of the park has been set aside as a wilderness area. There are not many roads and only three smallish camps that mainly run walking safaris. The only way to access this part of the park is to arrange your stay with one of these operators. However, to the north is a zone that allows wider self-drive access with one main track and several smaller tracks running off it. Note though that you’ll need to have a fully-equipped 4WD vehicle to attempt this.