Liuwa Plain National Park
During the 19th century, the Litunga, the traditional King of Barotseland, declared the area of Liuwa a game reserve as his hunting ground. In 1972 it was declared a National Park. The local villagers still however retain the rights to fish and to use the plains for grazing and harvesting of medicinal plants.
Most of the park is covered in grassy plains, with occasional trees and open pans. There are few roads and it may be worth hiring the services of a guide if you are on a self drive.
What can you expect to see?
One of the park’s main attractions are the large herds of blue wildebeest. These tend to congregate in their thousands during the rains. This movement of animals is an awe inspiring sight. Tsessebe, zebra, buffalo, roan, eland and many other smaller antelopes are also commonly sighted. There is a good representation of predators in the park, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and wild dog are all there.
Liuwa Plain is home to an abundance of bird life, with over 300 species being identified. Crowned and wattled cranes, pelicans, storks, herons and many other water birds are easily observed as the pans fill up later in the year. Secretary birds, larks, starlings bee-eaters and many raptors can also be seen.
When to go?
A visit to Liuwa is generally dependant on the rainy season. During the rains, most of the park is impassable due to the level of the water. Generally though the following guide can be followed:
January to April:
A large area of Liuwa is covered in shallow water, and all the pans are full. This is where you will observe large herds of antelope and many birds. It is however impossible to drive here at this time as most of the roads are impassable. You can however visit via boats and hiking. This will need to be booked through the park.
May to July:
The rains have normally gone by now and the plains start to dry up. The waters recede to the North and with that the large herds also start to migrate North. Some of the pans on the South retain their water and so there is still some wildlife to be seen on the more southern areas of the park. Threat of getting stuck on the roads is now diminished as the dry season takes hold.
August – October:
The herds start to move southwards again. It is much easier to drive around the park during the dry season.
November – December:
This is when the rains start to fall again and the plains are teeming with game. This is the perfect time to visit for game viewing, but do be careful as you may also become completely stuck in the mud.
How can we get there?
From Lusaka, it will take you about 10 hours to get to Kalabo where you need to check in. From there it will take between 1.5 and 5 hours depending where you are camping.
From Shesheke it will take about 6 hours to Kalabo.
Where can we stay?
There are 5 community camps in Liuwa.
- Kayala. This camp is outside the park boundary and is about 20 minutes from Kalabo. This is usually used by people who arrive too late in the day to travel into the park.
- Kwale: This is close to the southern park boundary
- Lyangu: This is also a relatively short drive from the park boundary
- Katoyana: This is a more central campground
- Sikale: This is the most northern campground and is used much more infrequently as it takes many hours to reach. This is a beautiful quiet place to visit.
Norman Carr and Robin Pope Safaris also have camps within the park.