Jump to content

Liuwa Plains National Park (Zambia)

Lady Liuwa

Recommended Posts

Hello Everyone,
A group of friends and I are planning on embarking on a trip to Liuwa Plains National Park in Mid-December. I live in Lusaka and I have been to Mongu several times. I have not however ventured onto the Mongu to Kalabo road before and that is something I am seriously terrified about. We plan on doing the trip with two 4X4's. One is a petrol engine without a snorkel but good ground-clearance and the other is a diesel equipped with a snorkel.
I was wondering if there is anyone out there that can lend me some advice on the Mongu-Kalabo road conditions during that time of the year. Are there many water crossings that I should be worried about. For the petrol engine 4x4: we will be equipped with a water repellent spray to protect our dizzy cap, but do you think that might not cut it. If we do successfully make it to Kalabo, how are the road conditions further onwards to the park as well as the internal park network. Should I be worried making such a trip with a petrol engine?
Also I have never been to Liuwa Plains before so any advice relating to the park, accommodation etc. will be greatly appreciated.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mongu - Kalabo right now is easy. Don't even need 4WD anymore after crossing the Zambezi. However, those conditions change all the time as most of the road you drive on the construction road, which is heavily used by big trucks.

I drove that road about 10 days ago in a low-clearance 4WD.


Right now there are no water crossing, except maybe for 1-2 places where they poured too much water on the road. Kalabo - Liuwa there is much more sand, but no water either.


Mongu - Kalabo is easy, Kalabo - Liuwa can be tough on some 4WDs, but high clearance and low tyre pressure should do it. I did see a rental this year, a HiLux converted to camper, where the the build up was just too heavy. They just made it to the park and left again the next day, they got stuck between Kalabo and Liuwa several times.


Your biggest worry will be the rain. Robin Pope Safaris pulls out by December 5-15, we (Zambian Carnivore Programme) take our cars out around the same time, depending on weather conditions.

In March-July you can get in by putting your car on a barge in Mongu (cost about KR 2,500-5,000) to Kalabo and then drive from Kalabo to Liuwa (3 hour drive, sometimes more than half of the time through water). After a certain time the water is too low to boat, last year this was in late August (started driving in early August), this year in early August (started driving in June!).

However, in December-January the water rises again, and it can rise fast, and there is a time, which can last several weeks, where the water is too high to drive from Kalabo to Mongu, and too low to boat and then you're stuck.


Having said that, the construction road between Mongu and Kalabo is very good, and there is only a small portion on the Mongu side where you are not allowed to drive on it, but if you're stuck I'm sure you can negotiate to use the bridge for construction vehicles across the Zambezi and drive the whole construction road. But I wouldn't feel comfortable driving Liuwa - Kalabo in a petrol if the plains are starting to get flooded, but it's not deep, usually less than <1/2 meter, and when it rises you can act accordingly.


Accomodation: There are several community camps, some supply water for showering, but you'll have to bring all the rest yourself. You can book them through AP. I would stick to the ones in the south, as that's where all the wildebeests are that time of the year anyway. Kwale Camp, Lyangu Camp and Katoyana Camp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I have definitely heard a lot about you guys. In fact I have also seen a few pictures floating around on Facebook on the Zambian Carnivore Programme. It still amazes me that there are people helping out in the most remotest regions of Zambia. Keep up the good work!

Also thank you for your reply. I am very relieved to learn that the road from Mongu-Kalabo is passable during that time, however I did not expect to hear that the road from Kalabo-Liuwa is worse. I am now strongly debating about preponing my plans to earlier in December instead of mid-December just to be on the safe side.

I have waded through 1/2 a meter water before so I can only hope that on this trip it doesn't go beyond that. In the event that it does however, I'll should be ready with some water repellent spray for the distributor.

Out of curiosity... do you know of any good lodges/campsites in Kalabo?


Thanks again for your reply. I wish you and your team the best of luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Game Warden. Will do! Very excited about this trip. I commend you on starting this Forum. Definitely a great tool to communicate with fellow avid bush enthusiasts. I shall keep you posted on what transpires in December.

Thanks for adding me to the Group!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad you could join us. Some really knowledgeable people here. Alas, I'm not one of them :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the compliment!


Good lodges in Kalabo? None, simple.

There's one half build lodge with semi-decent rooms, I don't know the name but you can't miss it.

In Mongu there's Country Lodge, Majestic Best Luxury's Lodge (seriously!), Hollywood II. I prefer Country Lodge (free WiFi!), clean, and secure parking. Mongu - Kalabo at the moment is about 2-3 hours depending on the wait for the ferry, and if 1 or 2 engines on the ferry work.

Check with AP about camp availability in early December when RPS is still around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Do you get any cell phone reception in the area?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy