October 27, 2017
In November, as the rainy season in Zambia begins, massive herds of blue wildebeest arrive at the Liuwa Plain National Park. The second largest congregation of wildebeest in Africa, the Liuwa Plain wildebeest migration is one of Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles. Here, we highlight all you need to know about this incredible phenomenon.
One of Africa’s best kept secrets, the Liuwa Plain National Park is a remote and rarely-visited park in western Zambia. 3660 km2 in size, it was proclaimed a game reserve in the 1880s by the King of Barotseland. Established as a national park in 1972, it is now managed by African Parks – a conservation non-profit – in partnership with the Barotse Royal Establishment and the Zambian Department of National Park.
The park is named for the seasonally flooded grassy plains, which characterise the area, and in fact, the word ‘Liuwa’ directly translates to ‘plain’ in Lozi, the local language in western Zambia.
Each year, over 45 000 blue wildebeest arrive at the Liuwa Plains from neighbouring Angola, seeking fresh grazing. The enormity of this gathering is second only to the Serengeti-Mara trek, yet the number of visitors is limited. This leads to exclusive sightings and a largely undisturbed safari experience.
As well as the hordes of wildebeest, some of the wildlife you can expect to see during the migration in the Liuwa Plains National Park include zebra, red lechwe, duiker, roan antelope, tsessebe, oribi and steinbuck. And of course, this large influx of antelope attracts a fair number of predators, a list that includes packs of African wild dog, prides of lion, hyenas, cheetah, leopard, jackal, wildcat and servals.
The birdlife in the Liuwa Plain National Park is excellent, with over 330 species recorded in the area. During mid-November, when the wildebeest gather on the ground, there is another, arguably just as exciting migration in the skies. Each day, as the pans fill up, hundreds of thousands of water birds arrive in the parks, an extensive list featuring slaty egrets, whisker terns, yellow-billed storks, grey herons, egrets, spoonbills, open-billed storks, blacksmith’s plovers, pygmy geese, saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes, spur-winged geese, and marabou storks, among others.
The nearest town to the Liuwa Plain National Park is Kalabo. Twice a week, Proflight Zambia operated scheduled flights from the Lusaka International Airport to the Kalabo Airstrip. From there, one water crossing gains you access into the park. This can be traversed via a pontoon, which transports 4×4 vehicles as well.
The Liuwa Plain National Park boasts five community campsites – Kayala, Lyangu, Kwale, Sikale and Katonyana – and one permanent lodge – the Time + Tide’s King Lewanika Lodge. While in Lusaka, make sure to book a memorable stay at Cresta Golfview, a comfortable, affordable and conveniently-situated hotel. Choose from 59 standard room, 12 executive rooms and 7 executive suites, and sample a delectable meal or two from the onsite Chatters Restaurant.
To find out more about Liuwa Plain wildebeest migration, or other safari experiences in Zambia, get in touch with the team at Cresta Golfview on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 11 881 1200.
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