South Luangwa: The Best Kept Secret in Safari


South Luangwa National Park is hands-down one of the most beautiful and diverse game parks in all of Africa. But you do not need to take our word, or our photographs, for it. With over 50 varieties of mammals and well over 400 documented bird species flourishing around along the flood plains, South Luangwa is the best kept secret in African safaris.

With Nsefu camp’s strategic location on the river, the bounty of animals in the area can be felt without ever getting into a safari vehicle. This shot of a baby elephant, impalas, and baboons was taken from the comfort of the camp living room.

Each day we would head out for a multi-hour game drive in the morning and afternoon. There are never any guarantees on which animals you’ll see on safari but with over 14,000 elephants roaming the South Luangwa National Park, our game drives were never short of an amazing ele encounter. These bathing beauties, splashing each other with muddy water were so much fun to watch! (and once again, this in view from camp!)

The beautiful Thornicroft’s Giraffe, which you can recognize by their irregular leaf-shaped spots, can only be found in only area in the entire world–you guessed it, South Luangwa is the spot!

The range of landscapes throughout the park always made for pleasant surprises. In one game drive you might ford numerous rivers, squeeze your way through dense forest and pass through arid landscapes of swaths of red and golden grasses.

The bird life in South Luangwa was as unique as it was prolific. We parked at this stream for over an hour, mesmerized by the performance in front of us, with these massive “German birds” stealing the show. With a red, black, and yellow bill resembling the flag, these are peculiar and exquisite all at once.

Nsefu is all about personal attention so many days we toured the park with our own guide and private safari vehicle.  Driving down which ever road called to us and stopping whenever we wanted, we found this perfect spot for mid-morning tea.

If there is one animal we’d say we’d truly bonded with at Nsefu camp it would have to be the hippo. A large family (more multiple senses of the word) has made themselves a home directly in front of the cabins so we got to watch their every move and hear their every sound (emphasis on the sound part). Snarf, gurgle, honk…these hysterical noises made for the best natural alarm—if only we recorded them for our wake up calls back home!

As we headed to the airport on our last day, we noticed our guide Yonah was taking some pretty bold shortcuts.  Working hard the night before, the Nsefu team found the exact spot of a fresh lion kill and he was taking us straight to them!  We watched these four lions feasting as two adolcent lions playfully wrestled on the sidelines. If was the ultimate safari sendoff.

There are so many things about Nsefu camp to love but most of all it was the animal to people ratio. It was as if we couldn’t go a half mile without seeing an animal but could go a whole day without encountering another car (other Robin Pope vehicles, included). This plus the  combination of deep history, an ever-changing landscape, and seamless luxury, make Nsefu a thrilling camp no matter if it’s your first safari or your fifth.

Much love from South Luangwa,
Anne & Mike

Note: Nsefu Camp invited us to to be their guest;  however, all opinions are our own.

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