KAFUE NATIONAL PARK
About the size of Wales, Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park, covering a wide variety of environments on an undulating plateau veined by rivers. The park still remains less undeveloped than other Zambia’s better known areas, and while the game viewing experiences may not match those of the South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi, safaris in Kafue can be very rewarding for those who are patient. There are low densities of visitors to this park which adds to your experience; this destination makes a wonderful off-beat addition to a Zambian trip, or a new destination to explore for repeat visitors to this country.
GETTING TO KAFUE NATIONAL PARK
There are three standard ways of getting to Kafue. You can fly in using a private charter flight and stay at one of the camps or lodges where you will enjoy game drives, walking safaris and boat trips.
The second option is for us to incorporate road transfers into your package and get you there by road – we also arrange private tours around the park for our guests where you have the exclusive use of a private vehicle and guide all the way through. And thirdly, you can also drive yourself into and around the park.
Most of the trips arranged by Authentic Safaris Zambia take the fly in option which helps the clients to get to the park easily and quickly, thereby maximizing on the experience rather than spending many hours travelling on the road. However, for clients going to the central part of Kafue, there is a well maintained tarmac road from Lusaka, and road transfers (which take about 4 hours) is an ideal way of getting there.
WHERE TO GO ON SAFARI IN KAFUE
Kafue covers about 22, 400km2 of varied terrain, and is one of the world’s largest parks. For those looking for a longer stay in Kafue, it can be an experience of a lifetime to combination the Northern, Southern and Central parts of the park. You can literally see the transformation of the landscape as you journey between these places. The permanent Kafue River also transforms as it makes its way through the park before emptying into the man-made Lake Itezhi-Tezhi. The park is surrounded by about 8 GMAs which provide a valuable buffer zone for the wildlife in the park.
Northern Kafue – The Busanga Plains
This northern part of Kafue is a combination of miombo and mopane woodland, with occasional grassy dambo. The area is veined by rivers, of which are tributaries of the main Kafue River. This means that there are also corridors of riverine forest throughout the area. The Lufupa River in the far north of Kafue National Park flows into the Busanga Swamps, which floods out the adjacent Busanga plains during the rains. When the waters recede from around May, they leave behind a carpet of lush vegetation, which is irresistible to many herbivores. This makes the Busanga Plains a highlight of the Kafue for the diversity and quantity of its big game.
Here you will find unique grassland plain environment which is dotted with wild date palms, sausage trees and fig trees. Huge herds of red lechwe and puku, as well as buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and other antelope are common sightings in the area. Lion, cheetah and wild dogs are also common predators in the area.
This part of Kafue receives more rain than other areas in the park, and that gives it much richer vegetation which has commanded a lot of attention from game in the recent years. This part of the park is perfect for those who love exploring, and a little patience can be rewarded with fantastic game viewing. With such a vast area to explore and a low number of visitors, the southern Kafue offers great safari experience for those who value a true feeling of wilderness as much as the game sightings.
The completion of the spinal road in 2014 has made access to this part of the park much easier for tourists. It is also easy to access southern Kafue from Livingstone – it takes only about 5 hours driving.
WHERE TO STAY IN KAFUE NATIONAL PARKS
Kafue is less developed when compared to its rivals of South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi. There are a few camps is top standards in the Busanga Plains of Northern Kafue where guests stay and enjoy probably the park’s best game viewing experience whilst being treated to the best standards of hospitality.
Central Kafue also has a few safari camps, ranging from luxury lodges to small bushcamps, all of which offer game drives, bush walks and boat safaris. You will also find a few camps the area around Lake Itezhi-Tezhi while the main southern part of Kafue only has one camp at the moment, Nazhila Plains Camp, which is small bushcamp taking a maximum of 12 guests.
WHAT TO SEE – WILDLIFE
Kafue has a nice range of antelope, but you have to travel in all the different parts of the park if you are to see all of them. For instance, you will most likely see large herds of lechwe and puku, with smaller groups of zebra and blue wildebeest in the Busanga Plains around June, when it starts to dry out. Around the northern half of the park, there is a good range of mixed bush environments which supports the presence of species such as kudu, bushbuck, eland, reedbuck, common duiker, grysbok and defassa waterbuck.
Lions are relatively widespread across the park, of course, with much bigger prides on the Busanga Plains, where they stalk through the nervous herds of puku and lechwe in the nights using the natural drainage ditches as a cover to increase their efficiency.
Leopards remain fairly common throughout the main forested areas of the park. Spotted hyenas are also seen regularly though not widespread across the park. Cheetahs are not very common but they are most frequently seen in the north of the park and there are some improved reporting of their sighting in the southern part of the park. Occasional sightings of wild dogs also occur throughout the park, which is one of Zambia’s best places for them.
The birding in Kafue is also very good; with about 495 species recorded in the area, which puts the park at the top of other parks in Zambia for bird safaris. The different habitats spread out across the park supports different bird species; our team is able to direct you to the best places to match your interests if you would like a bird safari experience of a lifetime.