A vast 22,500 square kilometres make up Zambia’s largest and oldest national park, Kafue. Despite being established in the 1950’s and being just 2 hours from Livingstone, the park remains largely unexplored, and is less visited than parks such as South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi, making it a great combination with either one of them. Protecting a wide variety of different environments, the park is roughly split north to south by the Kafue River, a major tributary of the Zambezi,which runs across rapids and calms before hitting the Itezhi Tezhi Dam.
The south receives less rain than the north and the game can be a little patchy, it is a wonderful place for those who have travelled Africa before and are looking for more of a discovery adventure than a wildlife one. The north is known as Busanga Plains, an undulating plateau, mainly consisting of miombo woodland veined by rivers and dotted with dambos. The main tree families here are Brachstegia and Julbernadia, which, due to bush fires, have built up some sort of fire-resistant bark. In the wet seasons heavy downpours drown the area, receding in the dry months to reveal lush green vegetation. In the very north, the Lufupa River flows into the permanent Busanga Swamps.
The tropical rivers are popular with hippos and crocodiles, and elephants are regularly seen on the sandy banks taking a drink, and it is fantastic to see them on the increase after they suffered so hard from poaching. Kafue National Park is well-renowned as one of the best places to spot leopard, especially at night with the use of a spotlight. Other predators include lions hanging out in trees, slender cheetah and elusive wild dogs. There are more species of antelope here than any other park, although it will take a bit of travel to see them all. There are about 158 mammal species recorded in the park, including some more unusual species such as pangolin, land monitor and aardvark, as well as two types of baboon, civets, spotted neck and clawless otters and the notorious honey badger.
“THE BIRDING IS JUST AS PROLIFIC, WITH NEARLY 500 SPECIES RECORDED, FROM AFRICAN FIN-FOOT AND PEL’S FISHING OWL, TO WATTLED CRANE, GOLIATH HERON AND BLACK-CHEEKED LOVEBIRDS.”
Between June and October is the best time to be here, when the wildlife is attracted to the water sources making for fantastic spotting. Enjoy boat trips, walking safaris and drives in both the day and night, depending on where you are within the park. It is possible to fly-in and stay at some wonderful accommodation where you can organise your daily activities. Busanga Bushcamp is a wild, unfenced and cosy camp and best place to spot cheetah lounging on the termite mounds, and the no frills Lufupa Tented Camp – with a huge focus on wildlife and nature.