Zambia Travel Guide
Zambia Travel Guide
The Luangwa Valley
Luambe National Park
Getting there

Zambia Travel Guide

Getting to Luambe

Although there is an airstrip (Waka Waka) nearby, the lodge probably hasn't yet got what it needs to compete effectively with the top-end fly-in lodges in both of the parks around it. Thus I'd expect most of its visitors would be adventurous 4WDers, passing through, heading to or from the North Park.

By air

If you are not driving, then you'll probably need to charter a 6-seater plane (pilot plus five passengers) from Mfuwe. I'm not aware of any operation that's really capable of transferring people by road – but it would probably cost a similar amount, if not more!

By driving

Do read Lessons in bush travel, under South Luangwa National Park, Getting Organised, Lessons in Bush Travel , before you attempt to get to this remote corner by yourself! When you've taken heed of this, the directions are:

From South Luangwa
Approaching Luambe or North Luangwa from the South Park, you'll be travelling on the east side of the river. From Mfuwe, head north through the Nsefu Sector, and finally exit the park from Chikwinda Gate (GPS: SLNPCH). It is then about five hours' drive to Luambe, and perhaps eight to the edge of North Luangwa.

On this road, especially near the start, there are a number of small tributaries of the Luangwa to cross. Between about mid-June and the end of October these will usually be fairly easy; outside of that they can be very tricky. About 26km after Chikwinda Gate, one of the more notable of these is the Lukusuzi River (GPS: RIVERR). I know from experience that this is easier to cross going south-north than north-south, as the southern bank stopped me for about five hours on one muddy night in early June. Fortunately, virtually the whole of the nearby village soon appeared – many helped to push and manoeuvre, while some just came for the entertainment. I hope it was better than TV for the villages, as their unstinting help certainly saved us from a wet and uncomfortable night in the river.

The turning east to the Lukusuzi National Park is (at least in theory) on the south bank of this river, although in practice very, very few people ever venture that way.
About 10km after that you'll pass the Chakolwa Scout Camp (GPS: CHAKOL), the entry into Luambe National Park. The road around here was particularly bad when I last travelled this way; leaving second gear was a novelty.

Some 20km later (GPS: TULUA2) you'll pass a left turning to Luangwa Wilderness Lodge which is about 3km away. The road through Luambe is all thick black-cotton soil; it's hard and bumpy when dry, but impassable when wet.

Continuing north, barely 10km later you'll reach Chipuka Scout Camp
(GPS: CHIPUK), which marks the northern edge of Luambe National Park.

From North Luangwa
See under North Luangwa national Park, Getting There, By Driving, From Luambe National Park for the route from Luambe to North Luangwa, and back-track along that.

From Mpika via the Corridor Road
There is a way into the Luangwa Valley which leaves the Great North Road south of Mpika. It's spectacular and tricky driving, which even in a good year is only passable in the dry season – and only when the 'Corridor pontoon' across the Luangwa River is operating.

'The Corridor' is the area between the North and South Parks. It's usually used by professional trophy hunters on a sustainable basis. They have a few simple hunting camps there, they make the roads and they ensure that the pontoon across the Luangwa is working. So note that if there's no hunting in the year – as in 2003 – the many of the usual tracks through here will be impassable.

That said, in a normal year you can turn east from the Great North Road about 40km south of Mpika, at (GPS: TUBATE – on the track that passes the old Bateleur Farm after 26km. The next landmark is Nthunta Scout Camp (GPS: NTHUNT). About 46km from the main road you reach the Nthunta Escarpment, with its breathtaking view over the whole Luangwa Valley.

The road is very rough as it descends down the escarpment, and after about 11km (it feels longer) you will reach the Mutinonondo River. Cross this, and after 8km there's a turning to the left which would takes you to the Nabwalya Village, in the middle of the Munyamadzi Game Management Area. In the dry season, the hunters sometimes keep a pontoon across the Luangwa, just south of here (near Nyampala Hunting Camp). Go across that and you'll soon find yourself on the track which links Luambe with the South Park. Sadly, this crucial part of this route hasn't been operational for any of the last three or four years, so it's essential that you check if it's working before you embark upon this route to Luambe!

Had you carried straight on you'd head directly over the Mupamadzi River into the South Park. See the section under South Luangwa national Park, Getting There, By Road, From Mpika via the Corridor Road and '05', for those directions.

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