One of Africa’s truly magical parks, South Luangwa sits between the endlessly meandering Luangwa River and the stark steep face of the Muchinga Escarpment. Getting out of foot is an integral part of experiencing this Park; it pioneered the walking safari, giving a whole new safari vibe when viewing the many big cats from out behind the confines of a vehicle. The river is heaven for birdwatchers too – brightly coloured bee-eaters and sandmartins flock here alongside the larger fishing birds of the stork, pelican and crane families. You might not be the only one observing the birds though – the river bank is home to several hippo pods, stretching out along the warm sandbanks, yawning wide and munching through the day. Away from the water, big game rules: Elephants, buffalo, leopards and lions are all commonly sighted, and for giraffe-spotters, this is as good as it gets – abundant in number, and a unique subspecies, the Thornicroft’s Giraffe calls South Luangwa home too.