The North Luangwa National Park is a remote expanse of land in the northern most part of three parks in the valley of the Luangwa River. The other two are South Luangwa National Park and the Luambe National Park. North Luangwa is considered to be one of the last surviving wilderness areas in Africa, covering 4636 square kilometres. It is not open to the public and there are no permanent lodges there. Access is with one of the few safari operators granted permission to conduct walking safaris (Remote Africa and Shiwa Safaris).
The attraction of visiting this Park is the truly remarkable opportunities to experience Africa as it was. It is wild and untouched and you are simply an unobtrusive witness to its natural beauty and drama. The North Luangwa National Park was founded as a game reserve in 1938 but it became a national park in 1972.
There are very few roads and you are unlikely to see anyone else for the duration of your trip. Like the South Park, it lies on the western bank of the Luangwa River bordered on the other side by the Muchinga Escarpment which rises over 1000 meters from the valley floor. Its hazy outline can clearly be seen from the Luangwa River.
There are a number of tributary rivers running through the Park and into the Luangwa which play an important ecological role in the area. The crystal-clear Mwaleshi River trickles down the escarpment in a series of small waterfalls. It recedes in the dry season, leaving many pools along the way, drawing the animals from the bush to its banks in search of water. No game drives are permitted in the Mwaleshi area, and access is by organized walking safaris only.
The vegetation ranges from mopane woodland to riverine forest, open grasslands and acacia thicket. Trees include the beautiful sausage tree, vegetable ivory palms, red mahogany and leadwood.
The Park is famous for its massive herds of buffalo, a spectacular sight if they’re seen on the run, kicking up dust for miles behind them. Large prides of lion also inhabit the area. Other common mammals are hyaena, Cookson’s wildebeest, bushbuck, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, puku and impala. Elephant and leopard are also seen, but not as frequently as in the South Park. You are more likely to see hartebeest, reedbuck and eland here, however. All the birds in the South have been recorded here as well. Sighted regularly are the crowned cranes, purple crested loeries, broad billed roller, Lilian’s lovebird, the carmine bee-eater, giant eagle owl and Pel’s fishing owl. Occasionally seen are the bathawk, black coucal and osprey. In 2003, black rhinoceroses were re-introduced to the park by the Frankfurt Zoological Society. These are heavily guarded and not often seen.