The 3,369 km² Liuwa Plains National Park in remote far west Zambia was once the traditional hunting ground of the Litunga (King) of the Lozi people.

Liuwa Plain is home to the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa and, compared to the more famous wildebeest migration in East Africa, this spot is hardly known. Each year in November, with the start of the rainy season, massive herds of blue wildebeest, 45,000 strong, migrate to Liuwa Plains, often mingling with zebras along the way.

Liuwa Plains National Park zambia

Hyena on Liuwa Plains National Park

Best safaris in Liuwa Plains

Morning and evening game drives are offered, walking safaris, and seasonal canoe safaris. A sleepout can also be arranged. Guests can expect to see lions, hyenas, wildebeest, cheetah, zebra and abundant birdlife.

Rare antelope found here include oribi, red lechwe, steenbok, duiker, tsessebe and roan, and predators include wild dogs, lions and hyenas. The birdlife is abundant, particularly during May and June, when the birdlife includes huge flocks of crowned cranes and pink pelicans. The dramatic storms and lightning shows at the start of the rains make for spectacular views and fantastic photography opportunities.

You’ll need to be patient when visiting Liuwa. It’s not uncommon to drive for an hour and see nothing. But then to suddenly chance upon a pan with 200 pink pelicans, or a huge herd of lechwe, or a pair of cheetahs. Trust me, perseverance will (eventually) be rewarded!

African Parks is involved in managing Liuwa and has reintroduced lions, wild dogs, eland and buffalo, as well as working to protect the park.

A trip in March or April to Liuwa can be combined with a one day trip to Mongu to witness the annual Kuomboka ceremony of the Lozi people of Western Zambia. The traditional festival involves the King, his Queen and his subjects migrating from the lowlands of the Zambezi to the highlands in a large black and white striped boat.

When to visit Liuwa National Park

Although Liuwa National Park is open from April to December, visiting before June can only be done via plane due to heavy rains and flooding. From June to December, a 4x4 vehicle is required. Guests who want to experience the wildebeest migration should plan their trip between November and December.

Liuwa National Park best safari camps and lodges

King Lewanika Lodge is the only permanent, luxury accommodation in the park, with open plan views over the plains.

Other accommodation includes campsites owned and run by the local community, who are assisted by the African Parks organisation. Four campsites – Kwale, Lyangu, Katoyana and Sikale – are located in the park. All four offer chances to spot different types of wildlife.

Katoyana also offers the chance to see wildebeest as well as lions and hyenas, while at Kwale, buffalo sightings are common. Lyangu guests can see hyena, lechwe and wildebeest. The Sikale is the most basic type of camp with no running water or flush toilets.

How to get to Liuwa Plains National Park

Most arrivals are by charter flight. Proflight offers occasional flights from Lusaka, Lower Zambezi’s Royal air strip and South Luangwa’s Mfuwe airstrip to Kalabo, the closest town to the Liuwa National Park. These flights run from 2.5hours at the shortest (Lusaka to Kalabo) to 3.5 hours (Mfuwe to Kalabo). If staying at the King Lewanika Lodge, guests are transported to the lodge via a fifteen-minute helicopter ride.

About the authors

Safari in Liuwa Plains National Park

Sarah Kingdom

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, traveller, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides climbing and trekking trips worldwide, including taking climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

Safari in Liuwa Plains National Park

Mazuba Kapambwe

Mazuba is a freelance writer from Zambia whose travel writing has appeared on CNN Travel, Unearth Women, Culture Trip and several in-flight magazines. Her travel podcast Mwende Bwino (Go Well) was recently featured on Conde Nast Traveler’s website and listed as one of the top five Zambian podcasts. Mazuba co-wrote the Lusaka Arts and Culture guide produced by the National Arts Council of Zambia.

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