Written by: Mario Voss, Director of Conservation at Luambe Camp

Photographs: Marcus Westberg

After many years of being in the shadows, the remote Luambe National Park in Zambia’s wonderful Luangwa Valley is about to embark on a new journey. With the help of a new private investment and a small team, mainly consisting of biologists, plans have been put in place for a new conservation, community and tourism project.

Luambe National Park is one of the oldest protected areas in Zambia and was first given national park status in 1938. Because of its remote location on the eastern bank of the Luangwa River, the park has remained essentially unchanged and is still one of the most secluded, tranquil places in the region, not covered by the usual tourist routes.

Located between North and South Luangwa, this off-the-beaten track national park used to be one of the best places to see black rhinos in the Luangwa Valley during the 70s and 80s.

After decades of poaching in this region and the decimation of many of the area’s species, the Luangwa Valley, and specifically Luambe has recovered spectacularly and once again boasts an amazing array of wildlife.

While animals can be a little more skittish than in the other parks – mainly due to poaching and the lack of tourism facilities in recent years – Luambe offers a unique experience for visitors in an almost untouched area. Hippos in particular are abundant in Luambe with numbers reaching up to 700 in a single pod, making it the area with the largest hippo population in the whole of Luangwa.

The new team in place has also reported frequent sightings of herds of elephant, buffalo, Crawshay’s zebra, several antelope species including impala, puku, kudu, waterbuck, bushbuck and even Thornicroft’s giraffe, which according to reports didn’t use to occur in Luambe until about a decade ago. Luambe predators such as lion, hyena, wild dog and leopard can also be seen.

It is also a wonderland for avid birdwatchers, playing home to over 200 species of birds. These include the martial eagle, tawny eagle and African fish eagle. The reserve offers guided birding tours giving the opportunity for rare bird sightings, such as the African skimmer, racket-tailed roller and Pel’s fishing owl. Large colonies of southern carmine bee-eaters can also be found along the banks of Luangwa River in September and October.  

As the Luangwa Valley continues to gain popularity among tourists, Luambe has become one of your last chances for a real, secluded bush experience in the region, away from the crowds. Luambe Camp is the only accommodation option in the whole reserve, meaning that you will have the wilderness almost entirely to yourself as you encounter the thriving wildlife and natural beauty of the Luangwa Valley. The camp is set along the riverside, above a pool which is the perennial home to hundreds of hippo, giving you unprecedented access to the animals that call the Luangwa River home.

For more information about Luambe National Park, visit this page. And to make a booking for Luambe Camp, visit their website.