Where to stay
Over the last decade, several operators have tried to set up permanent camps in Liuwa. All have failed; it's just too remote. There was also a time when a few companies operated mobile safaris here – notably Robin Pope Safaris, Chilongozi and the nearby Tiger Camp. All have now given up.
Getting around independently
If you register with African Parks at Kalabo on the way in, then there's no real need to take a scout as a guide – provided that you're fully equipped with a reliable GPS and have a back-up plan in case of an emergency (two-vehicle party and/or a satphone).
However, if you want to take with you an armed National Park scout from Kalabo – then you may learn quite a bit from him, as well as helping the park with a valuable extra source of employment. (You will need to supply all of his provisions; cigarettes and other extras are greatly appreciated.).Safety precautions
A GPS system is just about essential for anyone planning to visit the park as landmarks are few and the tall grass can obscure views. Early in the year it's important to have netting on your vehicle to stop grass seeds which will clog up your radiator and may combust. It's also wise in a park that's this remote to travel in convoy, with a reliable satphone in case of emergency.Useful spots in Liuwa Plain
Liuwa is all about exploring on your own – and although you're requested to stick to existing roads where possible you're still allowed to head off on your own into areas where there are no roads. That said, there are a couple of spots worth noting:
(GPS: WATER1) – this great waterhole seemed to be a magnet for cranes, with a huge flock of crowned cranes always around it, augmented by parties of wattled cranes.
(GPS: WATER2) – another lovely spot which was generally quieter, though did seem to be visited daily by a herd of red lechwe.
(GPS: 1PALM) – this is the spot known as 'Lone Palm', for obvious reasons. There's also a huge waterhole here where the general birding was excellent.
(GPS: MATAMA) – the Africa Parks team are based at the old Matamanene Camp (Emergency satphone (V1) 736 827 820, (V2) 736 827 821). They're also working to establish a permanent scout post on the northern side of the park.
The only practical option now is to drive yourself in a small expedition. With the advent of African Parks doing more work in the park, and moving in and out more often, this is safer than it's ever been. Currently facilities for visitors in the park are non-existent – and are likely to remain that way. (If this isn't part the park's attraction for you – perhaps you shouldn't be coming!) You must be totally self-sufficient, and remember to bring enough food and water for your scout too.
There are plans to shortly designate a number of campsites around the park – but until these are completed it's up to individual visitors to choose a suitable site for themselves. Don't camp beside pans with water, as you'll frighten off the game from drinking, and do make sure that you leave the place exactly as you found it.
You can pick up plastic bags from African Parks in Kalabo, so bring all your rubbish out; you're not allowed to collect firewood in the park, so buy firewood and/or charcoal in as you pass though Kalabo.