Travel to South Luangwa

South Luangwa

Experts have dubbed South Luangwa as one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of game around the Luangwa river and it’s ox bow lagoons is among the most intense in Africa.

The Park hosts a wide variety of wildlife birds and vegetation. The now famous ‘walking safari’ originated in this park and is still one of the finest ways to experience this pristine wilderness first hand. The changing seasons add to the Park’s richness ranging from dry, bare bushveld in the winter to a lush green wonderland in the summer months. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.

Of the primates, baboons and vervet monkeys are prolific. More scarce is Maloney’s monkey. Present, but unlikely to be seen except on night drives is the night ape, and the nocturnal bushbaby.  Hyenas are fairly common throughout the valley and their plaintive, eerie cry, so characteristic of the African bush can be heard on most nights.

Lions are as plentiful in the Luangwa as anywhere else in Africa, but when a kill is made away from the central tourist area, the pride may stay away for several days and may not be seen by visitors on a short stay. Very often they roam in prides of up to thirty.  Of the other carnivores present but not often seen is the caracal, wild dog, serval and side striped jackal.

The Luangwa river also has an extraordinarily high number of crocodiles. It is not uncommon to see several basking on the riverbanks or even floating down the river tearing at a dead animal.

Night drives are fascinating in the Luangwa. Not only for the chance of seeing a leopard but for the many interesting animals that only come to life at night. Genets, civets, servals, hyenas, and bushbabies as well as owls, nightjars, the foraging hippos, honey badgers and lion.

With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Valley, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.

Overview

Zambia is situated mainly on a vast plateau 1.8 miles above sea level, and boasts the Zambezi, Kafue and Luangwa rivers - as well as one of the largest waterfalls in the world, the Victoria Falls, which it shares with neighboring Zimbabwe. Most of the country has a mild, pleasant climate, while the river valleys are hotter and more humid; the extreme north becomes tropical on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, one of Zambia’s ten large lakes. While Lusaka is the country’s capital, Livingstone, just 6 miles from the Falls, is more well known to travelers as the ‘adventure capital’ offering adrenalin-packed activities on and around the Falls and the Zambezi River.

People

Zambia’s contemporary culture is a blend of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions of more than 70 ethnically diverse people. Most of the tribes of Zambia moved into the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. They grew in numbers and many travelled in search of establishing new kingdoms, farming land and pastures.
Before the colonial period, the region now known as Zambia was the home of a number of free states. Each having comprehensive economic links with each other and the outside world along trade routes to the east and west coast of Africa. The main exports were copper, ivory and slaves in exchange for textiles, jewelry, salt and hardware.

Language

There are over 73 dialects spoken in Zambia, but the official language is English. All media and business is in English and most Zambians speak it fairly well. Bemba is the next most commonly understood language, followed by Nyanja Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Mambwe and Tumbuka.

History

The major waves of Bantu-speaking immigrants began in the 15th century, with the greatest influx between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. They came primarily from the Luba and Lunda tribes of southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Angola but were joined in the 19th century by Ngoni peoples from the south. By the latter part of that century, the various peoples of Zambia were largely established in the areas they currently occupy.

Except for an occasional Portuguese explorer, the area lay untouched by Europeans for centuries. After the mid-19th century, it was penetrated by Western explorers, missionaries, and traders. David Livingstone, in 1855, was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River. He named the falls after Queen Victoria, and the Zambian town near the falls is named after him.

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained a mineral rights concession from local chiefs. In the same year, Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively) were proclaimed a British sphere of influence. Southern Rhodesia was annexed formally and granted self-government in 1923, and the administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British colonial office in 1924 as a protectorate.  On December 31, 1963, the federation was dissolved, and Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 1964.

In response to growing popular demand, and after lengthy, difficult negotiations between the Kaunda government and opposition groups, Zambia enacted a new constitution in 1991 and shortly thereafter became a multi-party democracy. Kaunda’s successor, Frederick Chiluba, made efforts to liberalize the economy and privatize industry, but allegations of massive corruption characterized the latter part of his administration. By the mid-1990s, despite limited debt relief, Zambia’s per capita foreign debt remained among the highest in the world.

Although poverty continues to be a significant problem in Zambia, its economy has stabilized, attaining single-digit inflation in 2006-2007, real GDP growth, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade. Much of its growth is due to foreign investment in Zambia’s mining sector and higher copper prices on the world market. In 2005, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, consisting of approximately U.S. $6 billion in debt relief.

Travel Guide

Currency

The currency in Zambia is the Kwacha, which is not available for purchase outside the country. Tourist activities are quoted and paid for in US dollars. US dollars and UK pounds are easily changed into Kwacha locally at any of the Bureaux de Change offices in the main towns. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders, exercise extreme caution.

Best Time to Travel

Zambia’s three distinctive seasons provide visitors with different perspectives depending on the time of year.
The Luangwa Valley for example is best for game viewing during the dry season from June to October, but the rainy season, with its spectacular profusion of greens and reds changes the landscape dramatically and the bird population’s increase with the arrival of migrants from the north.
The Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular between April and May after the rainy season but often the spray is so thick it is difficult to see the full width of the falls. To appreciate the magnificent rock formations and gorges, it is just as interesting to come when the water is low at the end of the dry season from October to December.
Kafue National Park is best from June to October as is the Lower Zambezi.

Weather

Zambia has three distinct seasons. December to April: warm and wet, May to August: cool and dry. September to November: hot and dry. Average temperatures in Summer range from 77° F to 95° F and in winter from 43° F to 75° F.

Health Requirements

A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are traveling from an infected area. Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised. Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of the country which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Your pharmacist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required. The passport must be valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure from Zambia.  A single-entry visa only may be obtained at the port of entry for $50.  Travelers must apply in advance at a Zambian Embassy or consulate for a multiple-entry visa. The fee for a three-year multiple-entry visa is $80.  Tourists visiting for the day from a neighboring country (such as those visiting Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe) can get a $20 day-trip visa at the border.  Tour organizers may arrange multiple-entry visas in advance for their clients.  Try to bring exact change whenever practical.  U.S. citizens occasionally have reported being overcharged for visas at the port of entry.

Tipping & Porterage

Tipping is not compulsory but highly recommended if you believe the service you received warrants a show of your appreciation.

Camp, Game Lodge and Specialist Safari / Tour Guides:
We recommend US$5 - $10 per person per day. You may tip half the recommended amount for a half day safari or tour activity.

General Safari Camp / Lodge Staff:
We recommend US$3 - $5 per person per day for safari camps and lodges. This should be placed in the communal staff tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff i.e. porters, meal servers, room cleaners and other service personnel working behind the scenes.

Transfer Driver:
US$1 per person.

Hotel Staff:
We recommend between US$1 - $2 per person per day for hotel staff i.e. housekeeping etc.

Porterage at hotels or airports:
We recommend about US$1 - $2 per porter movement.

Restaurants:
10% is customary on meal bills if you are satisfied with the service.

Credit Cards

Most hotels/lodges, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards. Most of the bigger banks will advance local currency against a credit card.  Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Barclays Banks have ATM’s which accept Visa cards for cash.

Electrical Appliances

Local current is 220v, 50 cycle AC

Water

Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is boiled already. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.

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South Luangwa

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