Twenty destinations for 2014: Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

Liuwa National Park
Liuwa National Park

The Liuwa Plain National Park is Zambia is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, with a migration to rival the Serengeti’s

Why? Spread across 1,390 square miles of north-west Zambia in the ancient kingdom of Barotseland, the park has at its heart a vast sea of golden grassland, 45 miles long and 20 miles wide with nothing but occasional islands of raffia palms to break the horizon.

Until recently this was the hunting ground of the Litunga – as the Lozi king is called. Now it’s a national park with a migration to match the Serengeti’s, as blue wildebeest converge in their tens of thousands on the plains in the wake of the rains, together with zebra and tsessebe, joining the resident buffalo, red lechwe, roan antelope, eland, reedbuck and oribi. Here, too, are a host of grassland predators: cheetahs, spotted hyenas, African wild dogs – and a lion pride that has evolved around its famous matriarch “Lady Liuwa”. Birding is equally spectacular, with 334 species recorded, including huge numbers of cranes and storks as well as pelicans, bustards and a host of raptors.

This is without doubt one of the most amazing wildlife reserves in Africa, yet it is so remote that only a few hundred visitors manage to reach it every year. Now that is about to change. In 2014 the Bushcamp Company, one of Zambia’s most experienced safari operators, is opening a new luxury lodge in the park and introducing a helicopter service that will really put Liuwa on the map, making it readily accessible for the first time without requiring an expedition to get there.