Walking Safari in Zambia
Walking Safari in Zambia? Are you Tired of living? “Are you insane? “If you insist to go, did you talk to your lawyer to amend your will?” “These are some of the questions that your Family and friends will be asking you if you decide to go on a walking safari in Zambia or any other African country, but instead of always watching the wildlife within the relative safety limits of a caged jeep have you ever considered to do a walking Safari?, Am not saying doing a game drive within the safety of a safari vehicle is not ideal, I have done it numerous time and I enjoy it to the core every time, I can never get enough of it, not now not anytime soon, but how about beating the odds? Brushing shoulders with pride of Lions, herds of Elephants, Buffalos, Cheetahs and Leopards?
Waking up at dawn, have breakfast, get in a jeep, and off you go for a game drive. Return to the camp, have lunch, take a nap, and take an evening walk around 4:00 p.m. During the evening drive. Repeat this program for the next few days. Are you ready to try something unique? Let’s see how to do it like a real expert and where you can comfortably do Walking Safari, no jeeps, no vehicles just you and the experienced armed guides who know the parks like the back of their hand. It couldn’t get more exhilarating more than this.
This sequestered piece of land with an area of 4,636 square kilometres offers one of the best wilderness walking Safaris experience in Zambia, if not in Africa. It is not open to the public and there are no permanent lodges. Access is only to a few safari operators who are authorized to organize walking safaris.
The beauty of visiting this park is a truly remarkable opportunity to discover Africa the way it was. It is wild and untouched and you are simply a discreet witness to its natural beauty and drama. Though NORTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK has been declared a wilderness area, it has only been accessible to guards from the gaming department for more than thirty years. In 1984, Major John Harvey and his wife Lorna asked for permission to go on walking safaris in the region and were the only operators in this remote desert for many years.
In 1989, two scientists, Mark and Delia Owens, famous for their book “Cry of the Kalahari”, were allowed to set up a research station in the park. Thanks to their influence and as a means of combating poaching in the region, the authorities have allowed the entry of some additional safari operators who bring a limited number of people to the park for guided walking safaris and game drives. Her efforts in the north of Luangwa are documented in her book “Survivors Song / The Eye of the Elephant”.
Several tributaries flow through the park into the Luangwa and play an important ecological role in the region. The crystal clear Mwaleshi River flows down the bank in a series of small waterfalls. During the dry season, it recedes and leaves numerous swimming pools on the way, which attract animals from the bush to its banks in search of water. Game Drive is not allowed in the Mwaleshi region. Access is only possible via organized walking safaris.
The vegetation varies from mopane forest to floodplain forest, open meadows and acacia thickets. The trees include the magnificent sausage tree, ivory palms, red mahogany and leadwood.
When is the best time to visit this Gem?
Operators in this region are only allowed to conduct Walking safaris in the dry season, that is from June to October when animal sightings are at their peak. Access in the wet season is virtually impossible.
The Park is known for its massive herds of buffalos, a spectacular scene if you see them running followed by clouds of dust for miles behind them. A large pride of lion inhabit the territory and it is not uncommon to witness a kill while on foot, how exhilarating? Other common mammals are hyaena, Cookson’s wildebeest, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, puku and impala. Elephant and leopard are also seen, but not as frequently. You are more likely to see hartebeest, reedbuck and eland. Bird species are also in plenty (Bird Watching) Sighted regularly are the crowned cranes, purple crested loeries, broad-billed roller, Lilian’s lovebird, the carmine bee-eater, giant eagle owl and Pel’s fishing owl. Occasionally seen are the bat hawk, black coucal and osprey.
This park was officially opened in 1984, so the infrastructure in and around the park is not sufficiently developed to accommodate the independent traveller. A special entry permit must be obtained from the Department of National Parks and Chilanga or Mpika Wildlife Services. It is not recommended to drive yourself due to its remoteness. The best way to explore this park is with one of the designated Tour operators. You can go to Mfuwe International Airport, about four hours away, to be picked up or taken to the Mpika side of the escapement. There are two open runways for charter traffic.
South Luangwa National Park is another option for walking Safaris, It all started in this park. please note all are based in Zambia. As one of the largest nature reserves in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its dead weapon lagoon is one of the most intense in Africa. The Luangwa River is the most intact river system in Africa and the source of life for this 9059 km2 park.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation. The now-famous “Walking safari” was born in this park and is still one of the best ways to discover Africa’s wilderness first hand. The changing seasons add to the wealth of the park. The dry and bare bush field in winter, in a lush wonderland in summer. South Luangwa National Park has 60 different animal species and more than 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino. With around 400 of the 732 Zambian bird species found in the park, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migratory bird species, the bird watcher will eat with a golden spoon in this park.
Zambia’s vegetation will improve your bush experience. Magnificent trees and plants grow in the Luangwa Valley, which certainly contributes to the wealth of his experience in recognizing different tree species and discovering exotic wildflowers.
The most common trees in the valley are the mopane, lead, spruce, large ivory palm, marula and magnificent tamarind. Great specimens of baobab trees and large ebony forests.
When to visit
Seasonal changes are very profound in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October. This is Peak Season. 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.
One can approach from three directions. The usual route is from Chipata. This is a good road. 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, just outside the Park. If travelling in a robust 4×4 from Lusaka, it is possible to take a short cut from the Great East Road at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. This route is advised to use it only during the dry season. A good overnight stop along the way is at the Luangwa River Bridge.
Precautions to take when doing walking Safari in Zambia
- It is advisable to start your walking safari early in the morning, this is because Most predators hunt at night and they will likely be full and tired the morning after. Therefore, they are less likely to do any attack, however whenever they see the guards, they keep their distance.
- You are advised to do your Walking Safari up to 3 pm because it is the time predators wake up from their slumber after heavy meals the previous night. They will start their hunting at around 3 Pm so by this time you better be gone.
- Safari Clothing should help you blend into the background. Avoid black, white, and camouflage. Choose khaki, brown, and green.
- Walk-in a single file line. In front and behind you will be an armed guard just in case. Keep voices low. Otherwise, the wildlife will run
- If you happen to come across the pride of lions (stop. Gather together and follow the guide and guard’s instructions (which usually means be quiet and move slowly out of the way).
- Drink plenty of water. In the mornings it is cool but it heats up quick! Dehydration is real and there’s nothing worse than being stuck out in the bush with dry mouth.
- Avoid all bodies of water – they are likely full of crocodiles and hippos.
- Be aware of what’s in the trees and the tall grass. Lions and leopards are masters at camouflaging themselves (thankfully, your guides are highly knowledgeable of these species), you won’t notice them until you are literally on them. Or under them, don’t run or scream. Keep Calm.
- While big cats may be the scariest animals, elephants, buffalo, and hippos are just as – if not more- dangerous. Keep a good distance from them at all times.
- Talk to your mind and assure it to be calm, don’t fear the animals try your best to be ease, these animals are good at reading their predators in which case you are a potential.
- Do not eat or drink anything other than water. Don’t even think about smoking.
- Relax and have fun.
Now get that Plane Ticket and hit the walk in the park-like an Expert.