As a wildlife photographer, South Luangwa National Park is a true paradise that never fails to produce amazing photo opportunities. Located in Zambia, this pristine wilderness offers a remarkable blend of diverse mammal and bird species, stunning landscapes, and an unrivalled photo safari experience.
One of the greatest attractions of South Luangwa National Park is its abundant mammal population. This park is renowned for its large herds of elephants, often seen gracefully navigating the riverbanks or wandering across the open plains. The park is also home to several big cat species, including the lion, leopard, and cheetah. These predators provide incredible photographic opportunities, especially during their hunting pursuits or serene moments in the golden grasses.
The park’s riverine ecosystem, formed by the meandering Luangwa River, is a haven for diverse wildlife. Along the riverbanks, you can spot pods of hippos basking in the sun, while crocodiles silently lurk in the water. Elephants and buffalos are often seen quenching their thirst or taking mud baths near the river, creating mesmerising scenes for wildlife photography.
The topography of South Luangwa National Park is a captivating mix of savannahs, floodplains, woodlands, and lagoons. The sweeping vistas of the open plains make for striking compositions, especially during sunrise and sunset, when the golden light bathes the landscape in a warm glow. The river and its tributaries crisscross the park, providing a lifeline for both wildlife and photographers seeking unique perspectives. The diverse vegetation, from acacia woodlands to open plains, adds depth and variety to the images captured here.
Bird photographers will also find South Luangwa National Park to be a true haven. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the park, making it a birders dream come true. Avian species, such as the lilac-breasted rollers, plenty of bee eaters, various raptors and sometimes even Pel’s Fishing Owl, are some of the highlights. The park’s varied habitats, including the riverbanks and woodlands, attract both resident and migratory bird species, ensuring a constant flurry of activity in the skies.
South Luangwa National Park offers wildlife photographers a treasure trove of opportunities. The park’s impressive mammal diversity, breathtaking landscapes, and prolific birdlife make it an ideal destination to capture iconic shots and create lasting memories. Whether it’s the thrilling encounters with big cats, the serene moments by the river, or the vibrant avian displays, this remarkable park is a true gem for any wildlife photographer seeking to document the wonders of the African wilderness.
Chikunto is ideally situated inside the South Luangwa National Park which means we can get out exploring at first light. This is often the best time to see predators at the end of the “night shift”. We have chosen to be inside the national park instead of using (cheaper) lodges outside as it affords us better photo opportunities with access to the park during the best parts of the day….and thats why we are here!
We will be making use of two safari game viewers with both of the Pangolin Photo Hosts dividing their time between the two vehicles. This means you will get to spend equal amounts of time with each of them while on this South Luangwa Photo Safari.
The morning game drive usually lasts approximately four hours and we will be traversing the area in and around Chikunto. Chikunto itself is based on the Luangwa River and so we will have plenty of opportunities to catch those most iconic scenes such as large pods of hippos in the river and basking on the banks.
The two vehicles will be in constant radio contacts so that we can alert each other to sightings and at South Luangwa. There is an opportunity to position. The vehicles slightly off-road for better advantage points. It should be noted, however, that off-roading in South Luangwa is highly discouraged.
The Photo Hosts will coordinate the day and which direction you will head depending on reports of the sightings. the camp is far away from the busier parts of The South Luangwa park which means there will generally be far fewer vehicles at a sighting that we want to photograph and stay with.
In the mid morning, we will return to Chikunto for a brunch, and then there is plenty of opportunity for us to conduct. Image review sessions with Shah and Sabine. If you would like to participate in the sessions, you will need to bring your own laptop loaded with the editing software of your choice. It should be said that you should be comfortable with using your own editing software as there won’t be time to teach you. We strongly suggest that you take Janine’s 11 part Adobe Lightroom course if you are not comfortable with a particular editing program as of yet.
In the afternoon, we will head out again in search of more photo opportunities. The advantage of also being based inside the park is that the afternoon drive will turn into a night time game drive where we have the opportunity to spot some of the lesser seen mammals species such as genet, civets and also the nocturnal birds of prey such as owls.
In the evenings there will be time to relax at the lodge – which is very comfortable and right by the river. There is a sleep out deck if you would like to spend the night under the stars (let your safari planner know and we can reserve that for you).
The food at Chikunto is amazing and can cater for most restrictions such as vegetarian and vegan as well as taking note of all allergies and intolerances. There is also a lovely swimming pool to relax by during the day with a good book.
South Luangwa offers up plenty of diverse photo opportunities that should be covered by either a decent prime lens or a capable
telephoto with a reach greater than 400mm.
The airport that services South Luangwa National Park is called Mfuwe and is accessed through the international hub (and capital of Zambia) Lusaka. Lusaka has excellent international as set out below:
Via the Gulf: There are direct flights to Lusaka from Dubai (Emirates) and from Doha (Qatar)
Via East Africa: There are flights from both Nairobi (Kenya Airways) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopian) and these routes are becoming increasingly popular with our guests coming from Europe and the Americas.
Via South Africa: You can use Johannesburg as your hub if you are flying from SA or perhaps also from Australia rather than going via the Gulf. This is a great hub if you want to combine South Luangwa with the South African Safari Circuit or even Cape Town.
Via Livingtone: Livingstone sits on TheZambian side of Victoria Falls which is always worth a visit (and is in full flood in June) and is also only a 1.5 hour transfer away from the Chobe where you could spend a few days with us at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel before heading up to South Luangwa with Charl and Sabine. Rumour has it that ProFlight in Zambia are going to launch a direct flight from Livingstone to Mfuwe (not via Lusaka) and if that comes to fruition we will be making the most of that shortcut!
19th–25th June 2025
$7,950 per person sharing / $2,000 Single Supplement
Meet and Greet at Mfuwe Airport – Zambia
Transfer by road to Chikunto
6 nights at Chikunto inside South Luangwa
All meals included plus soft and alcoholic drinks (excluding premium brands)
Game drives in open game viewers (4 per vehicle)
Pangolin Photo Guides (Charl and Sabine Stols) in attendance
International and domestic flights
All drinks other than those specified
Laundry, gratuities and items of a personal nature.