One of African’s most prized birding spots is the Lochinvar National Park. It is a small 450 km2 park on the Kafue floodplains which has 428 known species- that’s almost a different bird for every square kilometre.
Lochinvar National Park is particularly known for the large herds of Kafue Lechwe, locally known as “Nanja” unique to the Kafue flats. More than 30,000 of them make the flats their home and move seasonally according to the flood levels. The Lochinvar National Park sits between Kafue gorge bordering on the east and Itezhi Tezhi dam on the western side. The park stretches from river Kafue in the north to the woody hills in the south covering an area of approximately 33 kilometers.
The Zambian government of the day took over the forests Batwa where living in through hunting and gathering; sold the forests to a Scottish settler known as Lochinvar who built a cattle ranch. Later the Zambian government repossessed the same cattle ranch and converted it into a national game park and renamed it Lochinvar National Park. Meanwhile, the Batwa were forced to relocate to the remote Kafue Flood Plains Basin along the Kafue River. For survival they changed their lifestyle to become good fishermen. Batwa are academically referred to as “Pygmies” and are a highly side lined group of people!
Birdlife International has identified a suite of ‘Important Bird Areas’ (IBA) for Zambia which includes the Lochinvar National Park. Most of these are closely correlated with the identified Ramsar sites.
The wattled crane is the largest crane on the African continent and commonly found in Lochinvar National Park. It reaches an impressive height of about 175 centimetres (or more than 5.7 feet). Its back and wings are laden with beautiful grey feathers, while the head and wattles are white. Unfortunately, it is listed as vulnerable since its population appears to have undergone a rapid decline which currently stands at just 2,000 throughout the whole world!
A visit to Lochinvar National Park would be, incomplete without visiting the Gwisho Hot Springs. It is a nature wonder were water rises by convention methods from depths of over 1km with temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 90 degrees. There are high concentrations of sodium chloride, calcium and sulphates in the water. A distinctive rock known as a ‘fault breccias’ occurs along the line San at Gwisho
Sebannzi Hill is an archaeological site which has been excavated. It was the site of an iron age village. Of interest also is the Baobab Tree with a hollow trunk large enough for several people to sleep in. Drum Rocks is also an interest site worth visiting which produces a resonant sound when tapped.
Guide to visit Lochinvar National Park
Lochinvar can be visited all through the year. But caution should be taken during the wet season because of the heavy rains. 4WD vehicles are usually used at all times because the condition of the roads is not so good. The population of birds is largest in the wet months when migrant birds come in from the north and on the other hand game is commonly seen in the dry months.
Where to stay at Lochinvar National Park
You can stay by camping at Lochinvar Safari lodge camp site outside the Lochinvar National Park.
Hippos and crocodiles rule the Luangwa River. Both are short-tempered and highly territorial, making them two of Africa’s most dangerous animals. Needless to say, the Luangwa River is not a popular place to swim.
Entering a crocodile or hippo’s territory is like breaking into someone’s house. You are only allowed to view them from a high river bank, well out of harm’s way. The crocodiles mostly look uninterested in people around them and even skittish at times – they would dart into the water if you approach the river bank too quickly. Hippos have sensitive skin and avoid direct sunlight. As the sun went down in South Luangwa, hippos climbed the river banks to feed on vegetation. Watching these giant animals – hippos can weigh as much as 4,000 pounds – climb the riverbanks was a spectacle in itself.
The Lower Zambezi National Park of Zambia is still relatively undeveloped, it’s beauty lying in it’s wilderness state. The diversity of animals is not as wide as the other big parks, but the opportunities to get close to game wandering in and out of the Zambezi channels are spectacular. The Park lies opposite the famous Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe, so the whole area on both sides of the Zambezi River is a massive wildlife sanctuary.
The River’s edge is overhung with a thick riverine fringe, including ebony and fig trees. Further inland is a floodplain fringed with mopane forest and interspersed with winter thorn trees and huge acacias. The hills which form the backdrop to the Park are covered in broad leaf woodland.
Even though the Lower Zambezi National Park covers an area of 4092 square kilometers, most of the game is concentrated along the valley floor. There is an escarpment along the northern end which acts as a physical barrier to most of the Park’s animal species. Enormous herds of elephant, some up to 100 strong, are often seen at the river’s edge. ‘Island hopping’ buffalo and waterbuck are common. The Park also hosts good populations of lion and leopard, and listen too for the ubiquitous cry of the fish eagle.
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park is in the far north of Zimbabwe. It includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia. The park is known for wildlife visibility beside the river and in the flood plains. Large populations of elephants, hippos and Nile crocodiles gather at sunrise in the Long Pool. In the park’s south, lions wait for prey around the waterhole at Chitake Spring.
Manapools National Park is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE based on its pure wilderness and beauty, It is home to a wide range of mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife.
Manapools National Park is rated the 5th best park in Africa by Gateway magazine
Renowned World Heritage Site for its pure wilderness and beauty-(still has dinosaur spoors)
-TFCA- Transfrontier Conservation Area
-IBA – Important Bird Area.
-MIKE Site-Monitoring of Illegal killing of elephants.
-Bio-Sphere reserve- One of the world’s wildest and preserved natural ecological areas
During the rains, most of the big game animals move away from the river and into the escarpment. They start returning to the riverine areas from around April, as the pans in the bush dry up. As the year progresses, increasingly large herds of elephants and buffalos are seen, as well as kudu, eland, waterbuck, zebra, impala and many other antelope.The game is very relaxed about people on foot, making Manapools one of Africa’s best national parks for walking safaris
The Park is at the Centre of a network of protected areas in Zimbabwe which stretch from Kariba to the Mozambique border. Manapools is located in Mashonaland West Province and falls under the ambit of the Hurungwe Rural District Council for higher level administrative purposes. There are over 20 000 km² of wildlife protected land in the vicinity of Manapools. It is in the Middle Zambezi Valley covering an area of 2196 square kilometers (848 square miles) extending from the Zambezi River in the north to the escarpment in the south. A timeless wilderness considered by many to be the Jewel of Zimbabwe and a Treasure for Africa.
Today Manapools, one of Zimbabwe‘s four World Heritage Sites, is the stage for one of Africa’s greatest natural spectacles – a classic theatre of the wild, attracting hordes of animals during the long, hot African summer, drawn by the abundance of water and the lush grazing along its banks.
Lots of zebras, kudu, eland, impala, and other antelope species flourish among which the lion and the leopard, the hyena and wild dogs find easy pickings.
Zambia has 20 National Parks which are looked after by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
These range in size from the massive Kafue National Park, to the tiny Lusaka National Park – each one having a variety of different species of wildlife and birdlife, which live in totally diverse habitats.
Surrounding many of the Parks are areas called Game Management Areas (GMAs). They are buffer zones for the Parks are large areas where people and wildlife co-exist.
These 20 National Parks and 34 GMAs amount to almost a third of the Country’s total land area – approximately 225,000 sq km. This is the second largest proportion of land under protected status in Southern Africa.
Some of the Parks have better infrastructure and tourism facilities than others. The more popular ones all have private lodges and/or campsites which are open to visitors – the more remote and smaller Parks do not have any facilities, so check before you travel.
Guideline to Park Rules and Regulations
Entry into a Park is by permit and is at owner’s risk All visitors are required to register at the entry/exit gates Firearms must be declared at all points of entry and exits
Maximum Speed Limit is 40 km/ph Off road driving is strictly prohibited Sitting on vehicle tops/roof racks or trailers during game viewing is prohibited Use of saloon vehicles is prohibited in some Parks – it is advisable to use a 4×4 when driving on the smaller roads
Walking is only permitted if you are accompanied by a Escort Wildlife Police Officer Littering in the Park is strictly prohibited Feeding and molesting animals is prohibited Removal or disfiguring of any natural feature is prohibited You may braai at designated braai stands and only light fires at authorised camp sites Visitors should only camp at designated camp sites and stay at lodges
A day means the period from 06.00 hrs to 18.00 hrs (6am – 6pm) A school party shall comprise of more than 10 pupils/students
Wildlife Conservation challenges in Zambia
Most of Zambian rural households depend on local wild animals for their meat protein. They also depend on trees for fuel and both wild animals provide component of traditional medicines used by the majority. This gives environmental challenges including habitat destruction, forest degradation, illegal wildlife trade and impacts from human activities such as agriculture expansion and industrialization.
For thousands of years local people had a great affinity with the land, living sustainably with their environment. Traditionally, a villager had to ask permission from his Chief or Village Headman before he could utilise anything from their environment. For wood, he would ask which branch of a tree could be cut for firewood or for building materials, leaving the rest of the tree intact, to re-grow and be utilised again. Many villages had special days of the year in which they could hunt or fish, again only with permission from their local elders. These traditions were passed down orally from generation to generation and enabled the rural populations to live in harmony with the land.
With onset of the mines in the 1920s there was a greater demand for wood and a need to feed a growing workforce. This put a huge strain on both forests and wildlife. And when diseases, such as HIV, swept through the country, many of the elders died, and with them, their traditional knowledge. The old ways of how to live sustainably, respecting their environment, were lost.
The Country’s population growth over the last 50 years, from 3.7 million to over 16 million people, has put huge pressure on its natural resources. Almost 60% of the population live in rural areas and many of them depend on income from the land and waters that surround them. There is also a great demand from urban populations for charcoal and food. As the population rises it is putting greater pressure on land use and the local flora and fauna.
Due to the need for increased agriculture, to feed an ever growing population, habits are being destroyed. The Game Management Areas where wildlife live outside the National Parks, are becoming more populated and so there are more human/wildlife conflicts: crop raiding by elephants; threats to cattle and livestock by big cats; and threats to people who are just trying to protect their small-scale farms. People cannot easily move to another area – and can you imagine how emotionally and financially devastating it must be to have your whole season’s vegetable crop being wiped out in just night by a herd of hungry elephants?
Game meat is very sort after, especially by wealthy urban dwellers, with game farms only being able to supply a fraction of the demand. It is now more expensive than beef and so illegal bush meat is therefore in great demand. Although poaching is a rural problem, often done by local people, most of the illegal bush meat is transported to the towns and sold commercially where it fetches higher prices. There is also an international demand for illegal wildlife products – elephant ivory, lion bones, pangolin scales, wildlife skins and parrots – which are illegally taken from the wild and then exported – this illegal business in now a worldwide problem.
The growing demand is putting greater pressure on our wildlife in National Parks, protected areas, and even on private game farms, where thousands of animals are poached every year. Snaring, hunting with dogs and firearms are the most common methods used by poachers, as well as the use of fire. This demand is not sustainable and the challenges for the DNPW are immense.
Zambia emergency services include all aspects of emergency support including the police, fire and rescue and medical emergency support. Emergency services and rescue services are organizations which ensure public safety and health by addressing different emergencies. Many of these agencies engage in community awareness and prevention programs to help the public avoid, detect, and report emergencies effectively. Police provide community safety and act to reduce crime against persons and property. Fire and rescue service provide firefighters to deal with fire and rescue operations, and may also deal with some secondary emergency service duties. Emergency medical service provide ambulances and staff to deal with medical emergencies.
Experts have dubbed South Luangwa to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and not without reason. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the most intense in Africa.
The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and is the life-blood of this 9059 km2 Park. 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 Africa’s 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 in South Luangwa National Park. The only notable exception is the rhino, sadly poached to extinction.
With about 400 of Zambia’s 732 species of birds appearing in the Park, including 39 birds of prey and 47 migrant species, there is plenty for the birdwatcher to spot, whatever the season.
An interest in the vegetation of Zambia will enhance your experience of the bush. Some magnificent trees and plants grow in the Luangwa Valley and it certainly adds to the richness of one’s experience to be able to recognize the different tree species and to discover exotic wildflowers.
Among the more common trees in the valley are the mopane, leadwood, winterthorn, the tall vegetable ivory palm, the marula and the magnificent tamarind tree. The are some magnificent baobab specimens and a few large ebony forests to admire.
When to visit
Seasonal changes are very pronounced in Luangwa. The dry season begins in April and intensifies through to October, the hottest month, when game concentrations are at their height. Warm sunny days and chilly nights typify the dry winter months of May to August.
The wet season begins in November as the leaves turn green, and the dry bleak terrain becomes a lush jungle. The rainy season lasts up until the end of March and the migrant birds arrive in droves. Each lodge stays open for as long as access is possible, depending on its location in the area. There are several lodges that remain open all year in the central area of the park. And recently bushcamps are now opening in the “Emerald Season”.
Mfuwe Airport recently achieved international status and various airlines were looking at scheduled flights from abroad.
Proflight Zambia is the only airline flying scheduled domestic flights in Zambia. They fly daily to South Luangwa and Livingstone from Lusaka all year (frequencies increase in high season).
Charter planes from outside the country can now fly direct without clearing customs at Lusaka and there are a number of charter companies in Zambia, that can fly to and from Zambia’s top destinations. All lodges do transfers to and from the airport. Charter planes at seat rate – Executive Air and Nyasa Air Taxis.
One can approach from three directions. The usual route is from Chipata. This is a good road if a little corrugated and the 123km drive takes about two hours to Mfuwe, just outside the Park. If travelling in a robust 4×4 from Lusaka, it is possible to take a short cut from the Great East Road at Petauke, up alongside the Luangwa River to Mfuwe. Only to be attempted well into the dry season. A good overnight stop along the way is at the Luangwa River Bridge at Bridge Camp.
The Northern access is from Mpika on the Great North Road or Lundazi, near Zambia’s eastern border with Malawi. Just below Mpika, there is a road running down the Munyamadzi Corridor between North and South Luangwa Parks. It is passable but is only open between August and October and only in 4WD and preferably with two vehicles as help is a long way away. The mountain pass down the escarpment is quite formidable, very rocky and bumpy but the view over this, the tail end of the Great Rift Valley, is quite spectacular.
If you’re staying at one of the Valley’s lodges, the guides will ensure you have every opportunity to see all that the valley has to offer of its wildlife, birds and varying vegetation and habitats.
Tips for driving your own vehicle
If you’re in your own vehicle, be sure to get a map of the Park from the Crocodile Farm at the Park entrance and follow the loop roads graded in the Park, past dambos bursting with hippos, crowned cranes, grazing antelope and scurrying baboons. Further out on the plains you’re bound to see the large elephant herds, reaching up to 70 in number. Buffalo are abundant and spread throughout the Valley.
The hippopotamus is one animal you won’t miss. As you cross over the bridge into the park there are usually between 30 and 70 hippos lounging in the river below and most of the dambos and lagoons will reveal many. There is estimated to be about 50 hippos per kilometre of the Luangwa River!
Zebra can be seen running in small herds of about a dozen. The difference between Zambia’s zebras and those in the south and east of Africa are in the stripes. Here they are evenly spaced as opposed to broad light stripes with a faint shadow stripe in-between.
The Park has 14 different antelope species, most of which are easily seen on game and night drives. Watch out for the elusive bushbuck, preferring to inhabit densely covered areas. The common duiker is not that common near the Luangwa River but inhabits the back country of the Luangwa Valley. The largest of the antelope is the eland, usually near the Nsefu sector of the Park. The most numerous antelope is the impala, these gregarious animals can be seen in herds all over the Park. Not to be confused with the puku, of similar size but a much fluffier buck with a rich orange coat and also prolific.
Perhaps the most beautiful is the Kudu, with its majestic spiral horns and delicate face. Although fairly common, they’re not always easy to find due to their retiring habits and preference for dense bush. Reedbuck, roan, sable, hartebeest, grysbok, klipspringer and oribi are all here but not prolific in the central tourist area of the Park. They tend to stay deeper in the remote parts towards the Muchinga escarpment.
Birdwatching is superb in the Valley. Near the end of the dry season, when the river and oxbow lagoons begin to recede, hundreds of large waterbirds can be seen wading through the shallows. The red faced yellow billed storks move along with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy liquid with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The pelicans tend to operate in lines abreast, driving the fish before them into shallows before scooping them up into their beak pouches. The striking 1.6m saddle bill stork makes quick darting movements into the water. Then there’s the marabou stork, great white egrets, black headed herons, open billed storks and the stately goliath heron that can stand in the same position for hours before pouncing. Of the most beautiful are the elegant crowned cranes, with their golden tufts congregating in large flocks at the salt pans.
Around the same time, just before the rains set in, in November, the palearctic migrants from Northern Europe and the intra-African migrants arrive to exploit the feeding opportunities that the warm rainy season brings. These include the red chested cuckoo, white storks, European swallows, swifts, hobbies and bee-eaters, as well as birds of prey such as the Steppe eagles and Steppe buzzards that come all the way from Russia. A special sight is the hundreds of brightly coloured carmine bee-eaters nesting in the steep sandy banks of the river.
The ever-present sounds of the birds in the Valley takes some getting used to. An early caller is the ground hornbill, looking like a well-dressed turkey, but emitting the sound of a deep base drum. Also to be heard is the melodious Heuglin’s robin, the shrill cry of the fish eagle, set to the background cooing of doves.
Cultural heritage is unique and irreplaceable, and the current generation holds the responsibility of preserving it for future generations’ benefit. Heritage, however, is not only the traces of past society and past times, but includes also the evidence of the present ones, which has to be passed down to our progeny, too.
Zambia is endowed with extremely rich cultural and natural heritage of both movable and immovable nature. Unfortunately, most sites are menacingly endangered but important in many ways especially for the tourism sector that contributes to economic development. However, only 15% of the country’s land area has been surveyed for cultural and heritage sites due to lack of funds, therefore the conditions of most of the sites in not known. The country has the greatest ethnic diversity of all the countries in the SADC region, providing a large variety for different examples of ethno‐tourism. Ethno-tourism sector has intrinsic importance beyond its ability to generate income and provide employment. Culture and cultural heritage are crucial to people’s identity, self-respect and dignity.
However, not all community areas in Zambia have access to a natural resource base such as wildlife, scenic nature, water bodies. These offer the potential to generate large amounts of money and employment opportunities for the general community at large. Unfortunately communities without access to such natural resources suffer from abject poverty due to resource base exclusion. Where there is no wildlife, local communities should venture into a cultural tourism suitable to their surroundings. Cultural activities that such marginalized communities can venture into range from traditional indigenous games, traditional dance, and traditional food blended with nature viewing tourism emanating from other areas.
The ethno-tourism sector makes the following important contributions on various levels to the countries and local communities, including: employment generation; income generation; strengthening of cultural values; bridging cultural and national boundaries; promoting micro, small and medium enterprise development; growth of ancillary industries; capacity building; community development; and empowerment of local and indigenous communities.
The main features can be highlighted as follows:
Ethno-tourism shows a continuum of economic scale of operation from noncommercial through small-scale with donor assistance and small-scale commercial to large-scale commercial ethno-tourism.
The above mentioned continuum is paralleled by a continuum of authenticity, with small-scale commercial ventures revolving around genuine functioning villages and the largest enterprises tending to be spectacular reconstructions and portrayals of traditional ethnic features.
Most aspects of the industry tend to be controlled by the tour operators.
Domestic and regional tourists constitute an insignificant proportion of the consumers of the ethno-tourism product. Most consumers of single-day products are more affluent international tourists older than 35 years. Younger, less affluent tourists are more likely to participate in home-stays in a traditional village or community.
Consumers are targeted via international travel agents, international
We offer unique cultural tourism in Zambia. For inquiries, email Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell phone/WhatsApp: +26 0955361449