Take part in research into its populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog.as you join a team from the Zambian Carnivore Programme for a behind-the-scenes view of wildlife 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.
The Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP) 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 Plain National Park and the 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).
This one week visit to South Luangwa provides you with a unique opportunity to meet researchers and gain a unique insight into wildlife management strategies, while learning about this fascinating ecosystem.
Read a first-hand account of this fascinating experience.
Day1: Depart UK
Day2: Arrive Lusaka
On arrival at Lusaka you will be met and transferred to your hotel, and the rest of the afternoon is free to spend as you wish.
Day3: Fly to Mfuwe & transfer to South Luangwa National Park
This morning, take a short domestic flight to Mfuwe, from where it is a scenic drive of around one hour by road to Nkwali Camp, across the Luangwa River from South Luangwa National Park. This evening the 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.
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, then continue on a vehicle safari, 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; following afternoon tea, head out for an early evening drive to enjoy the nocturnal world of Luangwa, returning to camp for dinner.
Day5: Bush walk or vehicle safari, lecture on wild dogs
Today you will head out 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 later.
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.
Day6: Bush walk or vehicle safari, visit Chipembele Environmental Education Centre
The education of the local population, along with the reduction of human-animal conflict, is crucial to the survival of Africa's 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 is a fun school-based curriculum for children, as well as posters that educate 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 vehicle safari or simply relax and watch the sun set over the river.
Days7-9: Bush walks, vehicle safaris & boat trips
These last few days are left flexible – join ZCP researchers on either a morning or evening drive to track carnivores, or select activities to do with your guide, such as a walking safari, vehicle safari 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.
Day10: Depart South Luangwa
After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Mfuwe to catch a domestic flight to Lusaka, connecting with an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day11: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 daysfrom £4,595 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £3,895 pp
Single supplement: From £200
Included in the price/package:
Return flights between Lusaka and Mfuwe
1 night hotel in Lusaka
7 nights at Nkwali Camp
Transfers and park fees
Field activities with Zambian Carnivore Programme team
Donation to the Zambian Carnivore Programme
Comprising some 9,050 square kilometres of unspoilt African wilderness, South Luangwa is undoubtedly the jewel of Zambia’s national parks and a magnet to outstanding wildlife, particularly leopard. Its eastern boundary is the meandering Luangwa River whose regular changes in course leave scenic oxbow lagoons.
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Wildlife Art Safaris, Vehicle safaris, Walking with wildlife
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 six cool and spacious chalets - including one for a family - built from woven bamboo with stone floors and thatched roofs.