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The park is an expansive, flat plain that falls within the Zambezi catchment and is flooded each year from November to April. It was designated a game reserve of Barotseland by King Lewanika in the 1800s and became a national park in the 1970s. It is home to approximately 10 000 people legally living within the park, that share it with healthy ungulate populations, 330 different bird species, and growing numbers of cheetah, lion, spotted hyena and African wild dog.

The onset of the wet season brings an estimated 30 000 blue wildebeest thundering into the park, along with zebra, red lechwe, oribi, eland and buffalo. This is the continent’s second largest wildebeest migration (the largest occurs across the Maasai Mara and Serengeti) and an incredible wildlife spectacle. The presence of so many game animals is welcomed by the park’s predators and scavengers, and opportunities to watch a thrilling chase increase over this time.

 

Birding in Liuwa Plains
Birding in Liuwa Plains

The birdlife in Liuwa is extraordinary and it’s not unusual to spend hours at a single waterhole simply watching the avian comings and goings.

Depending on the time of year, expect to see hundreds of pelican, wattled or crowned crane, geese and smaller waterbirds.

Other “specials” include pink-billed and clapper larks and white-cheeked bee-eaters, and the park is also home to grey crowned cranes, recently classified as Endangered due to population decline. Keep cameras ready for the raptors too, including bateleur and martial eagles and greater kestrel.

Kuomboka Ceremony
Kuomboka Ceremony

Literally meaning “to get out of water” in the Lozi language, the Kuomboka is the traditional ceremony held annually to mark the movement of the king to higher ground at the beginning of the rains. It’s a time of great celebration, and the ceremony is conducted to the pounding of drums, while the paddlers, resplendent in animal skins, dance and sing. For a chance to catch sight of the king’s barge, complete with a life-sized replica of an elephant (the king’s symbol), book your safari for March/April. The ceremony is, however, dependent on the floods and dates cannot be guaranteed.

King Lewanika Lodge, Liuwa Plains, Zambia
Game Drives & Tracking Predators

The honey-coloured grasslands of Liuwa Plains are vast, and undoubtedly best explored by vehicle under the wing of a seasoned guide.

As happens at most Zambian camps, you’ll head out on drives twice a day, one early in the morning and one in the afternoon.

As you traverse the land, keep your eyes peeled for the ever-present predators including lion, cheetah, leopard and the famous packs of 50-plus hunting hyena.

And don’t forget the blue wildebeest, zebra, red lechwe, eland and tsessebe either

King Lewanika Lodge, Liuwa Plains, Zambia
Walking safaris in Liuwa Plains

Zambia is home of the walking safari and exploring Liuwa Plains on foot will certainly not disappoint.

Wander along glittering streams through shady patches of forest and across the vast plains as the sun pops its head above the horizon.

A walking safari here isn’t so much about chasing animals but about enjoying your surroundings taking it slow and simply “being” in nature.

Wildebeest migration in Liuwa Plains
Wildebeest migration in Liuwa Plains

It’s not termed the “Small Serengeti” for nothing – Liuwa Plains does in fact host the second-largest Great Migration on the continent, when the wilderness throngs with between 40,000 and 50,000 harrumphing blue wildebeest.

Combined with the vast, china-blue skies and waving grasslands, you could be excused for thinking you really were in the Serengeti, although perhaps a rather more wild and remote version, without the hordes of people.

Map

Things To Do & Where To Stay In Liuwa Plain

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