This is a small, unspoilt, herbivore-rich National Park in Zambia known for its bird life, herds of Kafue Lechwe, the Gwisho Hot Springs, echoing rocks and caves, ancient baobab trees and the remains of a Neolithic settlement and Iron Age village on Sebanzi Hill. You can visit this wildlife destination at any time of year.
Lochinvar National Park is located on the south side of the Kafue River, in the Southern Province and is 45 kilometres from Monze district.
The northern habitat includes the Chunga Lagoon and the Kafue Flats floodplain. There is an arid area of grassland between the floodplain and woodlands which is dominated by termite mounds.
Lochinvar National Park is part of the Kafue Flats and the savannah wetlands. The Kafue Flats is an area of large wetlands located in central Zambia along the Kafue River. Lake Manyeka in the north of Lochinvar National Park covers 25% of the park and with only an eight meter drop in elevation as the Kafue River flows through this region, the natural ecosystem experiences cycles of floods and droughts. The water table remains high during the dry season so this unique wetland landscape of grasslands, lagoons and reed beds supports a diverse range of Zambian wildlife.
The park is generally on flat ground apart from two small hills at the southern end. It divides into three distinct zones.
Massive herds of Zambian wildlife can be spotted on the lush green plains of the National Park. The park is a paradise for herbivore species and the most common sightings include buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and oribi. The southern area of Lochinvar National Park is famous habitat for species like bush buck, kudu, baboon, bush pig, impala, reedbuck, common duiker, genets, civets, hyenas and a few buffalo. Hippopotamus and crocodiles occur wherever there is water. Wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra, eland, sitatunga and oribi are found in the flood plains.
The most notable mammal is the Kafue Lechwe, whose range is confined entirely to the Kafue flats in the northern section of the park. Thousands upon thousands of the prevalent Kafue lechwe, one of three subspecies of lechwe are found here. More than 30,000 of them make the Kafue Flats their home and move seasonally according to the flood level. At high water, massive herds may be seen along the upper flood line and in the open grassland further south. As the floods recede the herds move north into the grassy floodplain. They feed on grass and herbs in water up to a meter deep and are often seen wading or swimming in the Chunga Lagoon. Mating takes place mainly between December and January when males fight over territories known as leks and then mate with several females.
In the Termitaria zone, trees and shrubs grow only on the large termite mounds with grasses and herbs covering the rest of the area, which may becomes waterlogged during the rainy season. The magpie shrike is one of the birds to be seen in the scattered trees of this area and the surrounding grassy plains are grazed by buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and oribi.
The southern area is mainly woodland dominated and is free from flooding. Bushbuck, kudu, baboon, bush pig and vervet monkey inhabit this area.
A destination for bird lovers, the Lochinvar National Park is home to more than 428 species. The floodplain of the park has flocks of many hundred wattled cranes. Other species are the marabou stork, flamingo, pelicans, African skimmer, Caspian tern, red-knobbed coot, southern pochard, yellow-billed duck and European shovellers. Waders can also be spotted as can members of the Raptor species include the black sparrow hawk, osprey, secretary bird, African cuckoo hawk and the peregrine falcon. In the flood plain, fulvous and white-faced tree ducks, spur winged goose, grey, purple and goliath herons, red cormorant, darter pink-backed and white pelicans including fish eagles are numerous.
These hot springs are found along a geological fault and are surrounded by lush vegetation. The water rises by convection from depths of over 1 kilometre with temperatures ranging from 60° to 90° C. There are high concentrations of sodium, chlorine, calcium and sulphates in the water. A distinctive rock known as a fault breccia occurs along the line of the fault and can be seen here at Gwisho.
This is an archaeological site which has been excavated and is now known as the site of an Iron Age village, inhabited for most of the last century. Enjoy the spectacle of a large baobab tree with a hollow trunk large enough for several people to sleep in. Traditionally it is said to have special powers which would protect passing travellers from wild animals. There is also a curious rocky outcrop called Drum Rocks which produces a resonant sound when tapped.
The IUCN and WWF have designated the Kafue Flats a wetland of international importance under theRamsar Convention. A sponsored management project for the area is working with local people, educating them in conservation through the redistribution of tourist revenue and controlled harvesting of resources. The fishermen you may come across in the park are very much a part of this unique ecosystem and in many ways the humans and wildlife here are interdependent.
This national park is easily accessible making it one of the popular national parks in Zambia. It is three hours drive from Lusaka to the town of Monze (282 kilometres from Livingstone and 186 kilometres from Lusaka). The access road is via Monze on the Livingstone – Lusaka road.
The World Wildlife Fund operates a camp site close to the southern gate. Simple chalets are also available here.