Boasting one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, the Liuwa Plain National Park in the far west of Zambia, was proclaimed a protected area by King Lewanika of the Lozi tribe in the early 1880's. Largely untouched by crowds and paved roads, this remote park offers a pristine wilderness, which to the seasoned safari-goer, is the biggest attraction.
When visited at the right time of year (November/December or May/June), a safari in the Liuwa Plain National Park can be exceptional and truly one of Africa's 'best kept secrets'. In the past, the park's remote location, has meant that options for safaris have been limited, however, recently the new luxury property, King Lewanika Lodge has been built, opening it up for a select few to enjoy this forgotten piece of Zambia. Private mobile safaris can also be arranged into the area.
Offering a landscape quite unlike any other park in Zambia, Liuwa Plains is covered by huge, grassy plains, with only the occasional islands of raffia palms to break the horizon. During the months of December through to April, the plains become flooded and this event is what drives the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa. The wildebeest move north from the woodlands on to the open plains for new, fresh grazing. These thousands of wildebeest, together with zebra and tsessebe, gathered on the flat, open plains are just as remarkable those in the Serengeti or Masai Mara. They join the resident buffalo, roan antelope, lechwe, eland, reedbuck and oribi as well as the predators, leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog and hyena. Famously there can be hyenas hunting in clans of up to 50 which is quite a unique sighting in Africa.
Despite the presence of these large numbers of animals, a safari here may take some patience as the game is spread out across the plains and involves some driving around to find, but the rewards can be great. Many open pans in the park hold water well into the dry season and may host large concentrations of birds or antelope. The birdlife is abundant with 334 recorded species including large numbers of storks and cranes, as well as bustards, pelicans, and a host of raptors.
In the months of October and November the Liuwa landscape holds a special magic, with dramatic thunderstorms gathering on the horizon and offering an awe-inspiring spectacle. The contrasting green and gold grasslands against the dark and ominous blue of a rising storm, create spectacular views and fantastic photographic opportunities.
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