The Kafue National Park, based in the west of the country, is the oldest and largest park. It is little known and largely unexplored, but said to have some of the greatest diversity of wildlife of any national park on the entire continent. The park runs along the Kafue River and has lately seen a surge of small and well-managed safari camps lodges popping up in and around the area.
The park is home to a number of rare antelopes comprising of Yellow Backed and Blue Duiker in conjunction to the key predators that visitors wish to see such as cheetah, African wild dog and lion. Besides for the usual characters, there is a plethora of unusual wildlife on display including bush pigs, pangolinm, springhare, aardvark, honey badgers and otters. With a 158 recorded species of mammals and 494 birds, it is obvious why any wildlife enthusiast should venture to Kafue.
When to visit
Depending on the experience one wishes to have depends on the time of year you choose to visit Kafue. With very different experiences on offer at different times of the year the decision is most definitely personal.
The dry season, from June to October, is when the park is most accessible, as it allows for easy driving and viewing opportunities. The wet season makes its hard to get around on the ground, but to be able to witness the green season with the plains flooded and the wildlife it attracts is a spectacle well worth the visit. Hence the only way to take in the sights is from above. This can be achieved by the help of a lightweight aircraft available at many of the larger lodges.
After the rains, everything is awash with dazzling greenery and lush vegetation and all the exploration and delight of the wildlife that comes with it. The temperatures at the park are far milder than its neighbours in the Lower Zambezi and Luangwa regions, making it pleasant throughout the year.
The Busanga Plain located in the north west of the park is regarded as the jewel and the crown of this breath-taking park. The wide flood plain, which is engulfed for most of the year, generates an expanse of grazing and lush water meadows. One can take in all its grandeur from a hot air balloon trip that are on offer at certain times of the year. The area is also a great place to spot lion, leopard and cheetah.
In the south of the park, the Kafue River runs into the Itezhi Tezhi Dam. This vast inland sea is encircled in parts by grassy plains often ‘mowed’ by the hippos who call the dam home. The rocky bays and stretches of submerged trees provide many species of water birds, including fish eagle, spoonbills and the stately goliath heron, with the ideal spot to perch on. Elephant, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest can be seen along the dam’s banks. This unique location is an angling paradise and plays host to the regions annual fishing competition.
- Oldest and largest park, based in the west of the country, runs along Kafue River
- Home to rare antelopes and key predators such as cheetah, African wild dogs and lion
- During dry season, June – October, park is most accessible, with easy driving and viewing opportunities
- During wet season the plains are flooded and the bush is green
- Busanga Plain in the north west is the jewel and the crown of the park
- TSS Tip: Great place to spot lion, leopard and cheetah