Famed for its fishing, the Barotse Floodplain in Western Province offers enthusiasts unparalleled tiger and bream fishing, consistently producing record catches. During the rainy season (around November to about April), the floodplains swell and flood, providing breeding grounds for large volumes of baitfish. These are gradually washed into the main channels attracting the impressive volumes of large tiger fish and bream in this area. The ideal time to visit the Barotse Floodplain for fishing is during the winter months, from May to August. This is an excellent time of year to catch the enormous tigers and great bream as the floodplains empty into the main channels.

With water comes life and this is evident by the significant populations and variety of water birds that are present including the black heron, squacco heron, Madagascar pond heron, rufous-bellied heron, African skimmer and pied kingfisher. There is also a vast colony of African openbill storks, located near the confluence of the Luanginga and Zambezi Rivers. This is a designated Ramsar sight and a feast for birders.

The Barotse Floodplain can be reached by road from Livingstone during the dry season. The roads are generally impassable during the rainy season. It is also known as Bulozi, Lyondo or the Zambezi Floodplain.


  • Area: 5 500 km² / 3 418mi²
  • Province: Western Zambia
  • Coordinates: -15.0332° S, 22.8834° E
The best time to visit is from May to November, with the plains being flooded during the wetter months of December through to April. Roads are generally impassable during the Green Season.

Barotse Floodplain can be accessed via road in the dry season or via private charter.

The following are the self-drive routes via road:

  • From Lusaka Head west towards Mumbwa and through Kafue National Park onto Kaomo. This is the recommended fuel stop. About 12km / 7.5mi after leaving Kaomo, turn right. This 195km / 121mi long road should take about four hours to drive.
  • From Livingstone Head west to Sesheke and join the M10 up to Senanga. If you are entering from Katima, you will join the road here. Head north to Senanga and onto Mongu. This is a recommended fuel stop. Head east towards Kaoma turning left at the gravel road to Lukulu 12km / 7.5mi before the fuel station in Kaomo. This 195km / 121mi long road should take about four hours to drive.

Via air, private charters are offered to the Lukulu airstrip.

  • Runway: 09/27
  • Runway length: 1 100m / 3 608ft
  • Surface: Compacted gravel
  • Airfield designation: FLLK
  • Elevation: 3 480 feet / 1 060m
  • GPS co-ordinates for Lukulu Airstrip: Latitude and Longitude (-14.3788099), (23.244796)
The floodplain is rich in biodiversity and provides aquatic habitats for fish such as tigerfish and bream as well as crocodiles and hippopotamus. There are also more than 300 species of birds including waterbirds, raptors, fly-catchers and bee-eaters. Barotse is also home to antelope like the semi-aquatic lechwe. After the flood, the plain provides grazing for wildebeest, zebra, tsessebe and small antelope like oribi and steenbok, as well as their predators.
The Barotse Floodplain is home to over 300 species of birds, including many species of aquatic birds, herons, African finfoot, bee-eaters and fly-catchers.
The Barotse Floodplain supports many species of indigenous vegetation and is one Africa’s most significant remaining wetlands. It is the second-largest in the country after the Bangweulu system. Habitats include woodland savannah, dry grasslands and evergreen forest. As the floodplain recedes in dry season, the area becomes a patchwork of oxbow lakes, lagoons and small swamps.