Luangwa National Parks

More than 15,000 elephants live in South Luangwa National Park alone, along with up to 15,000 hippopotami, rare Thornicroft’s giraffes, and 50 or more other kinds of mammals, with huge colonies of majestic crowned cranes. More than 400 kinds of birds, both migrants and residents,crowd along this stretch of the 420-mile-long (700-km) Luangwa valley, southern extension of the Great Rift Valley that cuts a channel down the continent’s backbone from northern Africa to the Zambezi river.

Riverbanks can be covered with hundreds of glowing carmine bee-eaters tending their burrow nests. There are as many Nile crocodiles here as there are in any other river (including the Nile). Leopards may be more visible here than anyplace else in the world.

Less well-known and more remote is North Luangwa National Park, a mostly wilderness area separated by a narrow corridor to the north with one of the highest lion populations anywhere, and huge herds of buffalo.

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