North Luangwa National Park, usually known just as ‘the North Park’, covers 4,636km² of the Luangwa Valley. The North Park is largely untouched, with few roads and restricted public access, offering a wilder experience of the Luangwa Valley than the much larger South Park.
To get the most out of North Luangwa National Park, our travellers generally visit one of the few camps for walking safaris within the park. Typically a three- to five-night stay at one of the walking camps is perfect, and these camps only operate during the dry season, from June to October.
The North Park can be accessed by air or road. From Mfuwe Airport in South Luangwa, a short flight to the North Luangwa airstrip is the easiest and most comfortable way to enter the park. Alternatively, and for more adventurous travellers, North Luangwa National Park can be reached by road using a 4 x 4 vehicle and it is recommended that you spend a night at Luambe Lodge and proceed to the North Park the next day.
Of the few camps in the North Park, we generally recommend Mwaleshi and Buffalo Camps. Mwaleshi Camp is tiny, able to accommodate just six people and set along a scenic stretch of the southern banks of the Mwaleshi River, which flows year round including the dry season.
The rustic but comfortable Buffalo Camp can accommodate up to 10 clients and it is set on the banks of the Mwaleshi River, in an area which is rich in game.
Both Camps are located in the remote, walking-only areas of North Luangwa National Park, and thus the main focus is on walking safaris. A few roads are there for limited drives and vehicles are available for short game drive safaris and to drive guests out to more remote walking areas.
Day trips to the Mwaleshi Falls, can also be arranged especially when you are staying at Mwaleshi Camp.
The ecosystems, game and landscapes in the North and South Park are virtually identical. However, the North Luangwa National Park has a greater diversity of habitats, particularly for the birdlife, than the South Park.
The game in the North Park is similar to the South Park, although there are some notable differences.
The escarpment brings some more unusual mammals to the North Park, including occasional sightings of sable antelope, bush pig and blue monkeys.
In the North Park you’re more likely to see Cookson’s wildebeest, one of the valley’s endemic subspecies. However, you won’t find any giraffes here, they are rarely seen north of the Mupamadzi River. Eland, the largest antelope, are more common in North Luangwa, and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest are also seen more often than in South Luangwa.
Lion and buffalo are numerous in the North Park, with buffalo herds even larger than those in South Luangwa, and some very strong prides of lion.
North Luangwa is home to all of the birds species found in South Luangwa. Frequently sighted birds are the carmine bee-eater, giant eagle owl, Pel’s fishing owl, broad billed roller, Lillian’s lovebird, purple crested lorries and crowned cranes.
Furthermore, the North Park is home to a couple of East African bird species that don’t usually occur further south – like the chestnut-mantled sparrow weaver, the white-winged starling and especially the yellow-throated longclaw.