Kafue National Park covers around 22,400 sq km is Zambia’s oldest and the largest National Park. Despite the Park's proximity to both Lusaka and the Copperbelt, it has remained underdeveloped until the most recent years. Despite the depravations of poaching and lack of management, Kafue National Park is still a raw and diverse slice of African wilderness with excellent game viewing, bird watching and fishing opportunities. From the astonishing Busanga Plains in the North-western of Kafue National Park to the tree-choked wilderness and the lush dambos of the south, fed by the emerald green Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue River, the park sustains huge herds of a great diversity of wildlife. There are thousands of red lechwe on the plains, the ubiquitous puku, the stately sable and roan antelopes in the woodland, the very small oribi and duikers. The solid-rumped defassa waterbuck, herds of tsessebe, hartebeest, zebra and buffalo make for a full menu of antelopes. Large prides of lion, solitary leopards and cheetahs are the prime predators. There is a host of smaller carnivores from the side-striped jackal, civet, genet and various mongooses.
The spectacular Busanga Plains in northern Kafue National Park is a vast flat expanse that stretches in all directions as far as the eye can see - one of Zambia's most significant wetland resources and one of the few untouched by development or human activity. This vast watery wilderness, flooded in the wet season by several rivers and streams covers an enormous 750 square kilometers. It drains into the Lufupa River, a tributary of the Kafue River. The floods reach their height from March to May, after the rains and large herds of hippo are stranded in the shallow pools left as the water recedes in the dry season.
The lush grasslands are grazed by red lechwe in their thousands. Fifty years ago, lechwe were almost extinct in this area. The establishment of the national park has seen a phenomenal recovery in their numbers and it is a sight of great beauty to see them wandering in such vast herds across the golden plains. During the wet season they splash about in the shallow waters, and, interestingly enough, lion, who usually dislike water, can be seen chasing them through water at least a half a meter deep. Other antelope found here are blue wildebeest, Liechtenstein's hartebeest, buffalo, zebra, reedbuck, oribi, puku and impala. Bushpig and warthog are also inhabitants of the plains. The shy swamp-dwelling sitatunga is found here, its widespread hooves enabling it to walk on the floating reedmats. Roan antelope are seen regularly in the northern sector as well as big herds of sable 30-40 strong.
The wealth of game on the plains of Kafue National Park is a big attraction for lions and prides of up to 20 are spotted regularly. Cheetah and Leopard also roam the plains, the cheetah being able to exercise their famous turn of speed, reaching up to 125 kilometers an hour. They are often seen on the plains. In the south, the Kafue runs into the Itezhi Tezhi Dam covering an area of 370 square kilometers. Rocky bays and stretches of submerged trees provide perfect perches for the many water birds inhabiting the area such as; fish eagles, cormorants, spoonbills and the stately goliath Heron. Itezhi is also an angling paradise and home to an annual fishing competition. The waters of the Kafue River are home to large numbers of hippopotamus, crocodiles and water monitors. Other species found in Kafue National Park include the rare and secretive yellow-backed duiker, common duiker, kudu, grysbok, warthog, bushpig, serval, hyena, jackal, baboon, vervet monkey, porcupine, civet, genet and many species of mongoose. Unusual features are the termite mounds scattered across the plains. There are teak forests, large numbers of the striking 'candelabra' tree, and many large black boulders often looking deceptively like a herd of elephant. Much of the park is covered by 'Miombo' Woodland opening out into large grassy dambos. Hartebeest, wildebeest, buffalo and zebra are often found frequenting these areas.
How to get there
By Air, the park can be accessed by air charters. There are light aircraft airstrips at Ngoma, Puku Pan, Chunga, Hippo, Moshi and Lunga camps. By Vehicle, the park can be reached from all four sides of the country.
1. Shumba Bush Camp is situated in the northern region of the Kafue National Park, in the famed Busanga Plains area.
2. Busanga Bush Camp lies in the heart of the Busanga Plains.
3. Mukambi Safari Lodge is located on the banks of the Kafue River and is the closest camp to be reached from Lusaka by road.
4. Lufupa River Camp and Lufupa Tented Camp are perfectly situated on a high bank overlooking the confluence of Lufupa and Kafue Rivers.
5. Hippo Lodge a small vintage-style stone built camp with four uniquely built private chalets and two rustic safari tents with each with open air stone bathrooms.
6. Puku Pan has stylish thatched cottages on the banks of the Kafue River.
7. Mayukuyuku Camp is situated in the Southern end of the North Section of the Park on the banks of the Kafue River.
8. Kapinga Bush Camp is situated in te extreme North of the Kafue National Park, and the north-west corner of the Busanga Plains.
9. Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp is located in the isolated and seldom visited southern sector of the park.
10. Leopard Lodge is on the banks of the Kafue River in a game management area bordering the Kafue National Park.
11. McBrides Camp is situated on the East Bank of the wonderful meandering Kafue River.
12. Musungwa Lodge is set on the shores of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi
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