Day 9 – 11: Liuwa Plains National Park


200 km in Liuwa on game drives

2 759 km trip to date

We drove from Kwale Camp to Katoyana for the next 3 nights. Still deep sand tracks followed by short stretches of solid road surface. One just gets comfortable and the next moment the tracks turn to deep sand again. A standard fee of USD200 per recovery is advertised on the park website, which is testimony of how often people do get into trouble on these roads. We guess that 90% of the distance we covered in the park was in deep sand.

The routes have to be planned carefully, as there are virtually no signposts to show directions. GPS is necessary to ensure one goes in the right direction. T4A also does not have all the correct info and sometimes insists on turning into a road where there is no road (never been a road according to the vegetation), other times on a well-used track only recalculates on and on.

Sand road with wildebeest further away

Liuwa Plains National Park is a truly magnificent wilderness park. The solitude is exceptional. The true beauty of this park lies in the vast open plains.

  • 3 380 sq km
  • Founded in 1972 – camps are run by the community and all the proceeds go to the community
  • 330 bird species recorded
  • 50 000+ blue wildebeest migrate every year in November from Angola to Liuwa Plains – second largest wildebeest migration in Africa. They leave in winter again towards Angola.

Although the seasonal rains have not started, the plains are green and can already sustain the huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra. The wildebeest have moved in and the calving has begun. We saw some really large herds with more than 500 animals in one herd, and it is an exceptional experience to sit amongst these animals and listen to the sounds of the mothers and calves. We were fortunate to experience this while having breakfast under a shade tree. The period to witness the migration and calving is limited, as the heavy seasonal rains normally start in November and after the rains most of the roads are impassable.

Wildebeest calves and cows
Wildebeest 360 degrees around



The lion population of Liuwa Plains is a total of 12 lions – we were fortunate to see three of the twelve: a cub running into the bushes where the mother had obviously disappeared moments before, followed by two stunningly beautiful male lions.

Male lion

Cheetah can be seen in the park (we did not see any) and there are lots of hyena around – we had one circling our campsite at night (quite scary, as there is no fence around the camp). We also saw a Large Grey Mongoose mongoose at a waterhole and a Side-striped jackal in the veld.

Hyena and saddle-billed stork
Large Grey Mongoose

The abundance of large birds at the water holes is also exceptional – we recorded fish eagle, saddle-billed stork, openbill stork, marabou stork, wattled crane, mahem, spur-winged goose (wildemakou), great white pelican, secretary bird, vulture.

King’s Pool
Great white pelican
Mahem (crowned crane)
Marabou stork
Great White Pelican
Wildebeest, zebra and wattled crane
Mahem at water hole

Liuwa Plains NP has 4 camps with 5 campsites each. The campsites are quite large with a reed shelter and large trees and each site can accommodate more than one vehicle. However, other vehicles are rarely seen when driving around the park. Katoyana camp ablutions are similar to those of Kwale.

Katoyana campsite

Temperature: very hot, low humidity, 36-39 degrees celcius during midday, cooling off nicely after sunset, with wonderful evenings.

Firewood: camp attendants supply a full wheelbarrow of firewood for 25 kwachas (R35).

Insects: no mosquitos during our stay.

Cellphone reception: none with our Airtel sim.

Liuwa Plains is a really magnificent park and we would like to be able to visit again in the future.



Next: On to Kafue National Park for another 3 nights…

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