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Take part in research into its populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and wild you join a team from the Zambian Carnivore Programme for a behind-the-scenes view of conservation in action in South Luangwa National Park.

The Luangwa and Mid-Zambezi Valleys Ecosystem is a series of national parks connected by game management areas (GMAs) that form an unfenced, relatively undisturbed wilderness of more than 70,000 square kilometres. This area contains Zambia’s largest lion population, its second-largest population of wild dog, and one of its largest populations of leopard. This one week visit to South Luangwa National Park provides a unique opportunity to meet ZCP field researchers and gain a unique insight into wildlife management strategies, while learning about this fascinating ecosystem. 

The Zambian Carnivore Programme is a non-profit registered trust whose aim is to support the conservation of and research into, large carnivore species, their prey, and additional biodiversity in three key locations: Greater Kafue, the Luangwa Valley and Greater Liuwa.

Kafue National Park is one of the world’s largest protected ecological networks and home to the world’s largest population of African wild dog and a high density of cheetah. South Luangwa National Park, along with the rest of the Luangwa Valley, hosts Zambia’s largest population of lion and leopard, and its second largest population of wild dog. Liuwa National Park and surrounding area, whose carnivore community is dominated by the spotted hyena, is currently experiencing a rapid recovery from heavy poaching in the past.

The data collected on different carnivore species in each location, such as population statistics, dynamic trends and environmental factors, is critical for the development of effective wildlife management strategies. The programme starts with Research (identifying threats, trends and dynamics), Conservation (anti-snaring, addressing human-animal conflicts and species re-introduction), and Education (building local wildlife capacity management, ensuring the local community understands threats and conservation issues, and establishing an educational and community awareness programme).

Read a first-hand account of this fascinating experience.

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrive Lusaka, 1-night

    On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is free to spend as you wish.

    Accommodation: Radisson Blu Hotel, 1-night. Bed & breakfast basis.

  3. Day 3: Fly to Mfuwe, transfer to Nkwali Camp, 7-nights in South Luangwa National Park

    Take a short domestic flight to Mfuwe, where you are met, then a scenic drive of around one hour by road to Nkwali Camp,  across the Luangwa River from South Luangwa National Park. This evening the Zambia Carnivore Programme (ZCP) team will deliver an introductory presentation covering their research project, including a familiarisation session on the equipment they use to locate and track carnivores in the field.

    Accommodation: Nkwali Camp, 7-nights. Full board basis.

  4. Day 4: Explore South Luangwa by vehicle with Zambian Carnivore Programme

    After breakfast by the campfire, cross the Luangwa River to enter the national park, whose remarkable wildlife includes herds of elephant and the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe.  Meet ZCP researchers at a coffee break, then continue on a game drive, during which you will learn how to use tracking equipment and locate carnivores. Today’s focus is a predator and prey identification survey, looking at the lion population in particular. Return to camp for lunch, then relax by the pool or grab a siesta; after afternoon tea head out for an early evening game drive to enjoy the nocturnal world of Luangwa, returning to camp for dinner.

  5. Day 5: Bush walk or vehicle safari and lecture on Zambian wild dogs

    Game viewing on morning and afternoon walks or drives; alternatively take a scout and a picnic and head out for the whole day to enjoy a walk or explore further afield, with lunch under a tree or beside a lagoon. You can take a lazy siesta, read for a couple of hours, or watch animals in the surrounding bush, returning to camp only when ready. This evening ZCP staff will deliver another talk, focusing on the competition between lions, hyenas and African wild dogs, the importance of their research into this, and its relevance to the survival of the wild dog. They will also talk through their latest findings.

  6. Day 6: Bush walk or vehicle safari, visit Chipembele Environmental Education Centre

    Education of the local population, along with the reduction of human-animal conflict, is crucial to the survival of endangered predators. On today’s visit to Chipembele Education Centre you'll learn about wildlife conservation education in general, plus the specific programmes ZCP have put in place. There's a fun school-based curriculum for kids, as well as posters that target adults – both of which are integral to ZCP's conservation efforts. You will also learn about programmes run by Chipembele for other species. On return to camp, you can opt for an evening game-drive or simply relax and watch the sun set over the river.

  7. Days 7-9 : Game drives, bush walks and boat trips

    These last few days are left flexible – join ZCP researchers on either a morning or evening game drive to track carnivores, or select activities to do with your guide, such as a walking safari, game drive or boat trip on the Luangwa River. Whichever you choose, you are sure to enjoy the Luangwa’s spectacular wildlife and rich birdlife. Depending on the weather, there may be an opportunity to visit Kawaza Village to experience local culture - simply let your guide know if you are interested.

  8. Day 10: Drive to Lusaka and depart

  9. Day 11: Arrive UK

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 days from £4,795 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 days from £3,995 pp
  • When to go: Nov
  • Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 1 night hotel in Lusaka (including breakfast)
    • 7 nights at Nkwali Camp (full board)
    • Return flights between Lusaka and Mfuwe
    • Transfers and park fees
    • Field activities with Zambian Carnivore Programme team
    • Donation to the Zambian Carnivore Programme
  • Activities available:
    • Birdwatching
    • Nature drive
    • Walking
Featured location:

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa is undoubtedly the jewel of Zambia’s national parks. It lies in the north-eastern part of Zambia and comprises some 9,050 square kilometres of unspoilt African wilderness. Its eastern boundary is the meandering Luangwa River whose regular changes in course leave scenic ox-bow lagoons.

  • Where: Eastern Province
  • Ideal for viewing: leopard, Cookson’s wildebeest, Thornicroft’s giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra, African elephant
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris, Walking with wildlife, Just Conservation
Featured accommodation:

Nkwali Camp

Located on private land just outside South Luangwa National Park, this lodge lies in an area of ebony woodland and open grassland that is superb for wildlife viewing. It consists of five cool and spacious chalets - including one for a family - built from woven bamboo with stone floors and thatched roofs.