Project Description

Hippo in South Luangwa

South Luangwa Photo Safari with Charl and Sabine

  • From $7,950 pps

  • 7 Days

  • Zambia

  • June 2025


This South Luangwa is a very unique place and certainly has a very different feel to the other Southern African National Parks. When you think of South Luangwa you think of a healthy leopard population as well as hippos submerged in weed-filled ponds…but it’s so much more than that. This is a hosted safari which means you will be accompanied by a Pangolin Photo Host who will be on hand to assist you in getting you plenty of great shots throughout the safari.

South Luangwa is easily combined with the Chobe for an extended safari should you so wish!

south luangwa leopard
 hippos in south luangwa
south luangwa video thumbnail
pel's fishing owl south luangwa
puku at dawn
wild dogs hunting
genet on a night drive
hi key giraffe
wild dog in south luangwa
hippo in the pond
civet cat in south luangwa
aerial view of chikunto safari lodge luangwa river
leopard hiding

As a wildlife photographer, I know that 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 birder’s 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, 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 contact so that we can alert each other to sightings 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 Charl 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 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 programme 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 nighttime game drive where we have the opportunity to spot some of the lesser-known mammal species, such as genets and civets, as well as 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 to 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

  • Visa fees if required

  • Laundry, gratuities and items of a personal nature.

Our Reviews

Beyond awesome!! I just returned home from a fabulous 6 nights at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel in Kasane, Botswana. Everything was as expected. The room was comfortable with reliable internet and air conditioning. Lots of work space to edit photos, multiple international plugs (no need to bring a converter) and a comfortable bed. The food was outstanding at every meal and the staff was excellent. Many of the trips were on the river and the photo opportunities were endless. The boats are equipped with gimbals which helped with managing long lenses. Our guide was always looking to put us in the best positions to get great images. All of the guides there are outstanding and if you are into wildlife photography, booking a trip with Pangolin is a no brainer. I am eagerly looking to return next year and will bring along some of my photographer friends.
Chris B
Chris B
Out of this world. Much much more than one could ever have expected This was the most amazing 5 days photography of my life. I was pretty reasonable before the trip but Janine's tuition / moving wokrshop ! turned something brilliant into something amazing. In addition my wife had previously rarely picked up a camera but having borrowed one of theirs came away with a thouroghly respectable 'portfolio' of wildlife shots, some of which I failed to capture. Am hoping to return one day. Oh and in addition the accommodation and full board etc was just perfect for the style of trip we were seeking. Only downside was that British Airways had my hold luggage for the whole of our 12 day visit to Africa however that did not spoil how good Pangolin are. Oh and we met a great couple from Ohio and are still in touch with them
An incredible experience top to bottom I can't say enough about Pangolin. We stayed for two weeks, complete with gourmet meals (including vegan options for my husband) in portions that were too large, open bar, pool, free laundry services, comfortable beds, amazing staff, and safaris that were exciting yet exhausting. They arranged a day trip to Victoria Falls for us. And we were only rained out of one boat safari in the entire two weeks (in rainy season!) We learned from the photo hosts and guides. You get your money's worth and more here.
Jamie C
Jamie C
Pangolin Photo safaris - a fantastic place to stay and to enjoy the Chobe We had a fantastic time at the wonderful Pangolin, everything was terrific. The staff were wonderful, both in the hotel and the Bush and all clearly well trained and very welcoming and helpful led by Dan. Charl was just what was needed on tour and with the photographing, we feel we all learned a lot as well as having fun. The food was delicious and the Chef great fun as well with his theatrical intros! I enjoyed the pool’s pond like qualities, which felt just right for the bush! Highly recommend this for photographic enthusiasts as well as everyone who enjoys the excitement of the Chobe wild life.
No place is perfect, until you go here When I had an issue with a safari in the Okavango Delta, the company I had booked through pivoted and made arrangements for me to stay here for two nights. I have but one complaint, it was ONLY two nights. There cannot be anything said about this place that is not incredible. First, the staff is friendly from the pick up, to the in house staff to the team that works to make sure that your time here is as if you are family that you have known a lifetime. Because I was not originally planning on being here, I went in blind. Well, I can tell you that if you are thinking for a second of going here you have already thought too long. Just book it! I have already spent time looking at my next trip and it will be 100% with Pangolin. The boats are amazing, the team made you look better, spent time teaching me editing tips, and just cannot say enough about this company, the people and oh, the food!! The food each night was amazing.
Fantastic all the way around 10/10 Wow these folks do it right! We just returned from leading our clients through Pangolin for our photography tour on the Chobe. I can't say enough about them. Everything from the staff and our guide (Richard) to Dan at the front desk and Guts with operations as well as the entire team are fantastic. We are for sure going to be working with them again in the future and look forward to it!
Sheree R
Sheree R
How wrong was I, Totally! As it turned out. This was a holiday that my husband wanted to do. I was very sceptical about doing it. After all how much were you going to see from a boat anyway. I was afraid of using my camera, so thought this may help. It was awesome, we had 3 days on the Houseboat and 3 days in their Lodge. Whilst in the boat we got to see 2 Lions bring down an Impala, only meters away from our boat. Jarco & Ray, our guides, were awesome. The people we met were lovely and we got some great photos. This is a holiday that we have and will continue to recommend. It was totally worth it.
Photography instruction to go from zero to hero in a few short days! With plenty of tips for the more experienced of us I'll make this short, there are no superlatives good enough to describe our time with Pangolin. We booked the Best of Chobe safari as my wife's first foray from North America. I had been watching all of the phenomenal YouTube content put out by Pangolin and knew they were the company to go with. They met and exceeded every expectation I had, and I had a lot. Our guides, Ray and Charlies, were excellent, knowing the game well and how best to position our boat or game drive vehicle for the best photos. Walter served as our photo host. Not only is he an excellent photographer, but he's an outstanding teacher. I do a lot of wildlife photography, and my wife is/was a complete novice at digital photography. By the end of the trip she was turning out outstanding images, and I learned more than a few tips. Well worth it for both of us. Typically, you'll do two game drives per day, either by custom-designed photography boats or game vehicles. We had four meals daily, and the evening meals were some of the best I have ever had. Also, while on the game drives, there are snacks, water, coffee, or sodas. You won't go hungry! While we both had gear (Nikon for my wife. I carry Canon R3 and Canon R5 ) they do have a loan department from which they will provide (free of charge) Canon 80Ds and 150-600mm lenses. The photo hosts are well-versed in the major camera manufacturers and models. Again, I can't begin to praise Pangolin, Toby, and Guts for the incredible customer service and photo safari.

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These are easily added to our South Luangwa Photo Safari