Zambia Safari Guide | Photographic Safaris in South Luangwa
South Luangwa is a paradise for photographers and nature lovers on safari in Zambia. It's no wonder that world renowned documentaries are filmed in this exceptional environment. This region is visually stunning and accessible year round.
Capture Paradise...The Luangwa Valley is beautiful and fertile. Its lustrous appeal is enhanced by the dazzling oxbow lakes and lush, exotic forests along the Luangwa River, which is one of the most unbroken river systems in Africa. The valley floor stretches for many hundreds of kilometres and is at least a kilometre lower than the surrounding highlands.
At the tail end of Great Rift Valley, the Luangwa region is both wonderfully scenic and filled with an incredible variety of wildlife. The northern section is wild and accessible to only a few guides. The southern section is a pristine wilderness and quietly becoming a most sought after safari destination. It is here that you can enjoy the original walking safari. Sunset at Tafika Camp
South Luangwa National ParkSouth Luangwa offers superb photographic opportunities on walking safaris and during day and night game drives. If you like being on the water, canoeing is a highlight here. In the early morning and late afternoon, you'll discover excellent low lighting conditions and a rich tapestry or colours which will make your images come alive. The change of seasons is dramatic and there will be wildlife around every corner.
Small and intimate photographic safaris are a speciality in the South Luangwa National Park. This is especially pertinent on game drives with just 6 people, as it means that each person gets a side seat in the vehicle which is ideal for photography. With at least 40 types of mammals and around 400 species of bird in the park, each day and season yields a unique perspective.
Rivers and lagoons are thick with Hippos and you will also see lots of Crocodiles ensconced on the riverbanks. The park is known for its big Elephant and Buffalo herds, but you'll also see Lion prides and Hyena too. Leopard sightings are very good due to high concentrations in this region. Endemic species include Thornicroft's Giraffe, Cookson's Wildebeest and Crawshaw's Zebra with its unique stripe pattern.
General Tips and Tricks
- Pack your equipment into a heat, dust and water proof case that is well padded.
- Choose a camera with a good lens - wide angle, medium range and telephoto (minimum 200mm), you could also take teleconverters if you use them (spend more on the lens than the camera)
- Take dust cleaning equipment (cloth, brush and blower)
- If you shoot with film, ensure that you take more than enough supplies (you're going to a remote area, so double what you think you might need)
- If you shoot with digital, bring plenty of your type of memory cards or back up images onto a storage device that can be packed into your luggage
- In the safari vehicle you will need some sort of support for your camera - some lodges supply bean bags, otherwise bring your own, alternately a tripod or monopod
When to goThere is a great debate about this in safari circles, but really each season is superb in its own way.
The winter season from April to October is cooler and drier. June and July are the peak winter months and October is the hottest month of the year in the build up to the rains. Animals stay close to water sources and are easier to see. Carmine bee-eaters breed in the last 2 months of this season. From a heat point of view the middle of the season is the most comfortable for visitors. Rates and occupancies are at their peak. Some lodges are only open in this season due to being inaccessible during the rains.
The summer season from November to March is hot and wet. The rain comes in short downpours which occur mostly at night as the season progresses. The vegetation is lush and beautiful, which transforms the landscape that becomes more colourful towards the end of the season. Days are sunny and bright in between rainy patches. Sunsets are especially lovely.
Contrasts are good and there is less dust in the air. Animals are not so easily seen but it is breeding season for many and you can spot lots of newborns. Birding is spectacular at this time, also because migratory species arrive. Some dirt roads will be impassable due to the rains. Mosquitoes are most active. The Emerald Season is quieter and rates are lower.