April 9

Our Favourite Places to Stay in South Luangwa National Park

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April 9, 2024

South Luangwa National Park is located in western Zambia and is best known for being the birthplace of the walking safari. It's still an underrated safari destination, but that's also part of its charm, offering a more untouched, uncrowded safari experience. We share the top places to stay in South Luangwa National Park for the best safari, as curated by our Travel Experts.

The best places to stay in South Luangwa National Park give you a front-row view of wildlife

Where you stay will make all the difference to your safari experience, Image Credit: Zungulila Bushcamp

Why Choose South Luangwa National Park for a Safari?

Game-viewing takes centre stage in South Luangwa National Park, with a host of fascinating species as the headlining actors. Most notably, it's known as the "Valley of the Leopards", with one of the highest densities of this usually-elusive big cat.

Furthermore, you can see the largest concentration of hippos in Africa here, as they wallow in the many pools and rivers. It's home to four of the Big 5, with the exception of the rhino, which is yet to be reintroduced to the region. There are also over 400 bird species here, so it's an excellent safari destination for birdwatchers.

South Luangwa game drive

Day or night, game drives will delight, Image Credit: Time + Tide

"Game viewing is incredible, and many guests are surprised that it's even better than big-name destinations like Botswana and South Africa. It's still very untouched so not as busy, which means you get a really authentic safari experience as it's still very wild. Plus,  you get both land and water safari experiences in one destination." – Carl Preller, Travel Expert. 
A lion on game drive in South Luangwa National Park

A remote setting packed with wildlife, Image Credit: Time + Tide Chinzombo

Who Will Enjoy a South Luangwa National Park Safari?

"South Luangwa is an excellent choice for adventure travellers, first-time safari goers, families – everyone, really. It's also the birthplace of walking safaris, so it's the perfect place to go if you want to experience this. It's a much more affordable safari destination than, for example, Botswana." – Carl.

Best Places to Stay in South Luangwa National Park

Where you stay will directly impact your safari experience in South Luangwa National Park. That's why it's important to book your safari with a trusted tour operator like Rhino Africa, Africa's Most Awarded Safari Company. 

Our Travel Experts have personally visited the lodges we recommend and understand the nuances of the different seasons and what you can expect. Here are our recommendations for the best places to stay in South Luangwa National Park.

"The best time to travel to South Luangwa is between May and the end of October. Many camps are actually closed during the wet season from around November to April. Therefore, it's important to know when and where to go in Zambia to ensure the best possible experience." – Carl.  

Zungulila Bushcamp

Are you looking for an intimate encounter with Zambia's wildlife? Then Zungulila Bushcamp is the perfect match. It has only four tents, all overlooking the Kapamba River. 

Zungulila Bushcamp  is one of the best places to stay in South Luangwa National Park

Your safari home in South Luangwa National Park, Image Credit: Zungulila Bushcamp

We also love that you can experience walking safaris as well as day and night game drives. There's just something extra special about going out on safari after dark and seeing all the nocturnal species. 

The copper outdoor bath is another favourite of ours. You haven't bathed until you've done so under the African star-lit sky, or watched the sunrise from a steaming bubble bath while you sip your coffee. Dreamy! 

Zungilila Bushcamp is one of our favourite places to stay in South Luangwa National Park

Your old-meets-new safari tent, Image Credit: Zungilila Bushcamp

Highlights

  • Only four tents that accommodate eight guests in total and can be booked out for exclusive use
  • Very remote region, with a special focus on walking safaris 
  • Meru-style tents, private bamboo verandahs with outdoor showers and bath and plunge pool 

Who's it for?

Romantic getaways like honeymoons or an exclusive safari experience for a small group travelling together.

Zungulila Bushcamp in South Luangwa National Park

How romantic is this? Image Credit: Zungulila Bushcamp

Time + Tide Chinzombo

Located on 60 acres of private land and built in a prime position to overlook the Luangwa River, Time + Tide Chinzombo has been dubbed the next generation of bush camps in Zambia. Given its setting, it's a popular meeting place for various wildlife, so the game viewing never stops! 

Time + Tide Chinzombo

Breakfast with a spectacular view, Image Credit: Time + Tide Chinzombo

We love their exclusive experience of offering guests the opportunity to spend a night under the stars, sleeping out under mosquito nets in the wild.

If you love reading, you'll adore the open-air library where you can channel your inner Belle from Beauty and the Beast and browse through the books before picking one to enjoy on the porch swing.

Open-air library at Time + Tide Chinzombo

An open-air library will delight book lovers, Image Credit: Time + Tide Chinzombo

Highlights

  • Eco-friendly and community-driven camp, upholding the high standards of Time + Tide 
  • Riverside views from a large deck steal the show, with many wildlife species frequenting the Luangwa River 
  • Family-friendly accommodation and activities 

Who's it for? 

Perfect for a family vacation, as children of all ages are welcome, they offer family-friendly safaris, and there's a family tent with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's also a great choice for couples, as the private decks with river views are the ultimate romantic setting.

Time + Tide Chinzombo offers sleepout experiences

A sleepout experience brings you face-to-face with Mother Nature, Image Credit: Time + Tide Chinzombo

Bilimungwe Bushcamp

For a more traditional safari aesthetic, we recommend Bilimungwe Bushcamp. Its four thatched rooms all overlook a water hole for best game viewing. We also love the hides, giving you an exclusive peek of the wildlife, great for photography. 

Bilimungwe Bushcamp is one of our favourite places to stay in South Luangwa National Park

Raised on stilts for the best view of the water hole, Image Credit: Bilimungwe Bushcamp

They invite you to enjoy the "Bush TV", with various spaces dedicated to just kicking back and admiring the wildlife coming and going. Plus, you can reserve your own private guide and vehicle to be in full control of your game drives. 

 We also ejoy their specialised photographic safari that's available upon request (at additional cost), taking you out on specifically-modified photographic game drive vehicles to help you get the best photographs.

Safari from the lodge at Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Sit and stare as the wildlife go about their day, Image Credit: Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Highlights

  • Open-air rain showers to feel at one with the wild scenery 
  • Walking safaris and night drives are offered, as well as wildlife hides where you can get the best views or photographs 
  • Only four tents, so great for small groups wanting to share a safari experience and private vehicles and guides can also be arranged at an additional cost 

Who's it for?

Those looking for a classic safari experience and groups of friends travelling together.

Boma fire at night at Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Gather around the fire to share safari stories, Image Credit: Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Time + Tide Nsolo Bush Camp

One of the most remote camps in South Luangwa National Park, Time + Tide Nsolo Bush Camp, is located on a bend of the Luwi River. Given its wild location, it does not have lots of roads and game viewing mostly takes place via walking safaris. Which, in our opinion, is the best way to see Africa up-close! 

We love staying at Time + Tide Nsolo Bush Camp

Immerse yourself in the Zambian wilderness, Image Credit: Time + Tide Nsolo Bush Camp

It's also set in an area where four lion prides overlap, on an elephant route, and the endangered African wild dogs make a regular appearance, so you can expect lots of action! 

But it's not just the big species that will catch your eye. Named after the honeyguide bird, it's host to many fascinating bird species so twitchers will be in seventh heaven. We're also big fans of their iconic Time + Tide Sleepout experience, where you get the opportunity to sleep under the stars.

Sleepout experience

Sleep out and make Africa's wilderness your bedroom, Image Credit: Time + Tide

Highlights

  • Known for great lion sightings, with four pride territories overlapping here
  • One of the most remote safari camps offering a truly immersive experience
  • Named after the honeyguide bird, it's host to many fascinating bird species 

Who's it for?

Perfect for birdwatchers, safari enthusiasts, and those focused on exceptional wildlife sightings. 

Time + Tide Nsolo Camp offers African wild dog sightings

African wild dog sightings are a rare treat but frequent at Nsolo, Image Credit: Time + Tide Nsolo Camp

Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp 

This eco-conscious camp is one of only a few camps not set next to the Luangwa River. Instead, Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp is set further back, overlooking a permanent lagoon. This makes for a more private experience, with no other camps or roads nearby.

Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp main area

Get right into the heart of the wilderness, Image Credit: Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp

Giving you the classic safari look-and-feel, the five chalets are shaded by large mahogany trees, making it very serene. Walking safaris also reign supreme here, in particular lion and African wild dog tracking.

We also adore sundowners at the bar overlooking a hippo hide, where their grunts act as the backdrop of the stunning sunset.

Sunset at Time + Tide Luwi Tent

Sunsets are in their own league in Africa, Image Credit Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp

Highlights

  • Overlooks floodplains that attract plenty of hippos and elephants 
  • Nearby hide on a lagoon that's bustling with wildlife activity 
  • Children of all ages are welcome, with family-friendly activities offered 

Who's it for?

Families looking for a private setting for their safari.

Family bonding in the bush at Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp

Family bonding in the bush takes on a deeper meaning, Image Credit: Time + Tide Luwi Bush Camp

Chiawa Puku Ridge

Rebuilt in 2019, Chiawa Puku Ridge has a new chic canvas look. Its location on a small hill overlooking a dry flood plain and water hole, you can always expect lots of action in front of the camp. Its namesake, the puku antelope, is often spotted grazing in the area.

Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge is a great place to stay in South Luangwa National Park

Feel right at home surrounded by the wild, Image Credit: Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge

Focusing on walking safaris only makes sense, as this is the birthplace of this activity, and the photographic hide gives you a close vantage point of the big and small wildlife lured by the water.

As an eco-friendly camp in a quiet setting and with indoor and outdoor showers and tubs, rooftop "star beds" and private plunge pools, it invites you to spend as much time as possible appreciating nature.

A photography hide at Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge

A comfortable hide gives you the best angles of wildlife, Image Credit: Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge

Highlights

  • Chance to see the rare white-faced Thornicraft giraffe 
  • Hide to admire wildlife up-close and take great photographs, walking safaris, and night game drives offered 
  • Each tented safari suite has a tower with star bed where you can sleep out

Who's it for? 

Pro and budding wildlife photographers and those wanting a more land-based safari experience. Also great for romantic getaways. 

Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge star bed

Spend the evening admiring the starry African skies, Image Credit: Chiawas Safaris Puku Ridge

Time + Tide Mchenja Camp 

Named after the ebony grove it's tucked into, Time + Tide Mchenja Camp is on the banks of the Luangwa River. This setting also lures fantastic feathery creatures, and it's one of the best places in South Luangwa National Park to see the beautiful carmine bee-eater bird (seasonal, usually around late August and early September). 

Carmine bee-eater at Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

The stunning carmine bee-eater, Image Credit: Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

Children of all ages are welcome, there's one family safari room available, and family-friendly activities offered. Did we mention there's no WiFi or phone signal? This is your sign to get the family away from the screens and bonding in the bush!

We're also obsessed with the outdoor tub overlooking the river. It's a magical setting you'll reminisce about as soon as you leave.

Bath with a view at Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

Just imagine soaking in this bath with a sundowner, Image Credit: Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

Highlights

  • Great for bird-watching, in particular the best place to see the carmine bee-eater at certain times of the year 
  • Day and night game drives, walking safaris, wildlife photography, and sleepouts under the stars offered 
  • Expect exciting lion and leopard sightings, as well as elephants frequently crossing the river the camp overlooks 

Who's it for?

An excellent choice for families, as children of all ages are welcome. It's also a wonderful option for birdwatchers.

Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

Fall asleep to the sounds of the wild, Image Credit: Time + Tide Mchenja Camp

Chindeni Bushcamp

Found on the edge of an oxbow lagoon and set against the Chendeni Hills, which it's named after, this is a photo-perfect destination for your Zambian safari.

Chindeni Bushcamp

Riverside relaxation, Image Credit: Chindeni Bushcamp

There are only four chalets at Chindeni Bushcamp, which means you don't have to share! Book out the whole property to enjoy with friends or family, and you have yourself the ultimate safari adventure. 

However, please note that children must be 12 years and older to join a walking safari, and families with children younger than 11 years old will have to book out the camp or hire a private guide and vehicle at an additional cost.

Chindeni Buschcamp view

Your view at Chindeni, Image Credit: Chindeni Buschcamp

Highlights

  • Incredible birdwatching, as more than half of Zambia's bird species can be spotted here
  • Day and night game drives, walking safaris, and photo safaris in adapted vehicles are available 
  • The lagoon it overlooks is always busy, bringing great big and small wildlife sightings 

Who's it for?

Great for families or friends travelling as a small group. Birdwatchers will also love staying here.

Elephant walking through Chindeni Bushcamp

Gentle giants will come greet you from time to time, Image Credit: Chindeni Bushcamp

Tena Tena

River views? Check. Lagoon views? Check. Flanked by both bodies of water, Tena Tena Lodge's location attracts a flurry of birdlife and other wildlife. 

Romantic setting at Tena Tena Safari Lodge

Your romantic hideout, Image Credit: Tena Tena Safari Lodge

Each of the six tents lead out onto viewing decks peering at the river and are spaced far apart for the utmost privacy.

We like how you can open up the canvas, as well as the outdoor bathroom. There's also a large honeymoon suite for those lovebirds looking for something a little extra special.

Tena Tena Safari Lodge  bathroom

The outdoor bathroom, Image Credit: Tena Tena Safari Lodge

Highlights

  • Ultimate privacy as tents that are spaced far apart 
  • Unique location as it's flanked by both the Luangwa River and a complex lagoon system
  • Learn more about local culture and conservation efforts by visiting local villages, the Wildlife Education Centre and Tribal Textiles, a local décor company where you can also buy pieces to take home

Who's it for?

Romantic occasions call for this private riverside location. 

Walking safari at Tena Tena Safari Lodge

You can't go to South Luangwa National Park without going on a walking safari, Image Credit: Tena Tena Safari Lodge

Nkwali Safari Camp

A classic safari lodge with thatched roof and traditional décor, Nkwali Safari Camp offers a land and river safari combo. The camp is built on the edge of the Luangwa River, with each chalet fully opening with grill doors to let the outside in.

Nkwali Safari Lodge

Feel like you're at one with nature, Image Credit: Nkwali Safari Lodge

With only 12 guests at a time, this is a great safari camp to celebrate a milestone event with your nearest and dearest by booking out the camp. It's also great for a romantic getaway as they have a honeymoon suite.

With a cultural element to your safari, you can visit the local Kawaza Village as well as the Wildlife Education Centre where school children are taught about conservation. You can also learn more about tribal textiles and buy pieces to take home with you.

Boat safari with hippo sighting at Nkwali Safari Lodge

A boat safari is always exhilarating, especially when you see a hippo, Image Credit: Nkwali Safari Lodge

Highlights

  • Water and land safaris, from game drives, walking safaris and boat safaris
  • Visit local villages, the Wildlife Education Centre and Tribal Textiles, a local décor company, where you can see how it's made as well as buy souvenirs to take home 
  • Elephant herds often meander past the camp's pool and bar

Who's it for?

Families with children older than seven years old, but younger children are also welcome only if you book out the whole camp for exclusive use. 

Elephant at Nkwali Safari Lodge

Elephants could pop in to say hi, Image Credit: Nkwali Safari Lodge

Book Your South Luangwa Safari Today

At Rhino Africa, we believe every traveller is unique and that their itinerary should reflect this. That's why our Travel Experts tailor your safari specifically according to your likes and wishlist. It's this highly personalised approach that has awarded us the title of the World's Most Awarded Safari Company.

So, reach out to us today, and let's start planning your adventure! 

"When you book with us, we can give you insights you don't normally get. For example, if you choose a certain service provider properties group, we can often get you great discounts." – Carl . 
X Rhino Africa Consultants

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About the author 

Tania de Kock

Tania has always been an avid reader, which ultimately led to her life-long dream of becoming a best-selling author. She loves travelling, super spicy food, South African wine, and cats! When she's not reading with a glass of wine, you can find her at the nearest beach or camping, running or hiking in the mountains.

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