Lavushi Manda National Park
This park is potentially interesting for its hilly and very pleasant landscape, though sadly it has lost some of its animals to poachers over the last few decades. Lavushi Manda's rocky, undulating land would make parts of it difficult to farm, so, until tourism to Zambia is substantially bigger, there is little incentive for anyone to try to rejuvenate its fortunes by restocking it with game. That said, it's likely that for 2005 the Kasanka Trust, working as part of a donor-funded development project, will start to implement some anti-poaching and road-building plans. Watch this large space…
Lavushi Manda is over three times the size of Kasanka, and covers 1,500km2 including the Lavushi Hills. It is easily reached from the Great North Road, is almost equidistant from Serenje and Mpika, and the landscape is attractive and undulating. To the north the land slopes away, and the park's streams all drain into the Lulimala, Lukulu or Lumbatwa Rivers and thence ultimately into the Bangweulu Basin.
Miombo woodland covers most of the park, with some areas of riparian forest nearer the larger streams and many grassy dambos. Though this is attractive and the scouts report that there are still populations of game left, the area has only one accessible road.
Getting there and around
The one east–west road through the park can be dreadful. Driving in the dry season is a challenge with big muddy gullies and areas where the road has just been washed away; when last crossing the park in June, I averaged about 15km/h. In the wet season, I'd expect this to be exceedingly time-consuming at best, and totally impassable at worst.From the east
The turning to Lavushi Manda from the main Mpika–Serenje road (GPS: TULMGM) is about 141km northeast of the chinese road (the turning to Mansa and Kasanka) and about 60km from Mpika. There is currently a large and very old signboard here pointing the way to Lavushi Manda and Bangweulu swamps – but it looks as if it will disintegrate at any moment.
This road goes across the TAZARA railway line, and 12km later enters the park via a scout post and checkpoint (GPS: MUFUBU). After another 20km or so you'll reach a good, solid concrete bridge over the lovely Lukulu River (GPS: LUKULU).From the west
There is only one good track which heads east from Chiundaponde, passing the turn-off to Bangweulu. A little over 20km later you'll enter Lavushi Manda at the Lutimwe Scout Post (GPS: LAVUS1) – which is just above a crossing of the Lutimwe River. This is a little over 10km from the good bridge over the Lukulu River (GPS: LUKULU) mentioned above.
Where to stay/what to see and do
There are no camps or campsites in Lavushi Manda, and doubt over whether camping is even allowed. If you want to camp, then drop by the regional NPWS office in Mpika and enquire there. If the answer is yes, you'll need all your food, water, and equipment. If you are planning on venturing off the main road, then you'd probably want to arrange for one of the scouts from the gate to accompany you.
Driving through the park makes an interesting diversion; it is a convenient route into the Bangweulu Game Management Area. Although few regard it as a destination in itself, it might make a good area for exploration if you are a very dedicated hiker. Talk to the team at Kasanka if you're curious about the latest situation here.