Written by: Georgina Lockwood
If you are considering a safari to the Masai Mara or the Serengeti, or you have seen the Great Migration but want to go again, maybe you should check out the likes of Liuwa Plain National Park – one of Zambia’s conservation success stories and home to Africa’s ‘other’ migration of wildebeest.
The Great Migration has been regarded as one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, where 1.5 million wildebeest (gnu), zebra and gazelles migrate from Serengeti to the Masai Mara to find the richest grazing as the seasons change.
But there is somewhere else you can also feel the thrill of galloping gnu – Liuwa Plain National Park. Here are eight reasons to visit Liuwa:
Not many people know there is a second migration of wildebeest in Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park. Liuwa Plain is one of Africa’s oldest conservation areas – protected by the King of Barotseland in the early 1880s – although it was only proclaimed a national park in 1972. The ungulates of the Masai Mara and the Serengeti attract herds of tourists each year, but if you would like a picture without another game vehicle or person getting in the way, it’s time to consider Liuwa Plain National Park for a more intimate photographic experience.
2. There will be wildebeests in fields of gold
There might only be 43,000 wildebeest in Liuwa’s migration but with the population on the rise, you can still see five kilometres worth of wildebeest and there will be flowers – loads of wildebeest in a mirage of flowers.
3. Famous residents
She is as famous – if not more famous – than those critters of Meerkat Manner. The Lady Liuwa resides in ‘Z’ollywood, made famous by Beverly and Derek Joubert’s documentary: The Last Lioness. Currently there are six lions in Liuwa so our dear lady isn’t so lonely anymore.
4. Wild about unique wildlife?
For serious safari-goers Liuwa boost a bountiful array of exciting wildlife. Wild dogs, spotted hyena and cheetah represent the predators and red lechwe, eland, tsessebe and the critically endangered roan antelope on the herbivore side of things. Then there are important flagship species, like the wattle crane.
5. Lightning storms
Watch the theatre of the sky from the safety of a lodge or vehicle. When the December rains arrive they come fully charged. The lightning storms in Liuwa are legendary and definitely a pull for tourists, and reason for locals to celebrate.
6. The Kuomboka Festival
We all know about the noble Maasai but how many people have heard of the Lozi people? When the floods arrive the king and his procession jump in their boats and row to the pounding of drums to Limulunga on the Eastern periphery of the floodplain. The word Kuomboka directly translates ‘to get out of water’ in the Silozi language and the arrival of the rains is the cause of much celebration and festivities.
7. Canoeing and boating safaris
The park becomes inaccessible to vehicles in the wet season but an entirely knew watery world opens up to those wanting to brave a canoe safari and work on their biceps. Liuwa combines the best of the Great Migration and the Okavango Delta into a 3,660km² safari-going splendour.
8. Proximity to Vic Falls
If you have decided to go to Liuwa Plain National Park, why not go via Livingstone and spend a couple of days in Africa’s Adventure Capital before you go on your safari. White water-rafting, bungee jumping, the Victoria Falls, tree planting festivals, micro-lighting, zip-lining, helicopter rides and a dip in Devil’s Pool – the options are endless!
Read about what Liuwa’s local communities are doing for conservation in Living Wild in Liuwa.