Kafue National Park, Zambia’s oldest and largest national park, is a hidden gem in the heart of Africa. Established in 1924, it covers a vast expanse of approximately 22,400 square kilometres, spanning three provinces: North, Western, Central, and Southern. While Kafue may enjoy a different level of fame than its counterparts, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, it offers a unique and diverse wildlife experience that deserves your attention.
Kafue National Park may not boast the sheer volume of wildlife seen in other Zambian parks, but it is a sanctuary for a remarkable array of species. The park is home to four of the Big 5, including lions, leopards, and the elusive cheetah, a rarity in other Zambian parks. Lions, in particular, roam the park’s expanse, often seen stealthily stalking herds of red lechwe and puku near the natural drainage ditches.
For those fascinated by leopards, Kafue offers a chance to spot these elusive cats in their natural habitat, making it one of Africa’s premier leopard-watching destinations. Beyond the big cats, Kafue proudly claims the largest population of African wild dogs compared to any other national park on the continent. These remarkable predators thrive on both sides of the Kafue River, from dense woodlands to riverine and dambo areas.
Additionally, Kafue’s wilderness holds a treasure trove of unique and lesser-known species, including pangolins, bush pigs, aardvarks, wildcats, and even the tenacious honey badger.
Kafue National Park is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting an impressive 497 bird species, equivalent to the birdlife of the entire European continent. Among these species are critically endangered and endangered birds, such as the white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, hottentot buttonquail, and grey crowned-crane. Birdwatching in Kafue is an opportunity to witness the vibrant avian diversity of Zambia.
The park’s landscape is characterised by open plains and expansive Miombo woodlands, which provide sustenance and shelter for a wide range of wildlife, including antelopes, lions, and elephants. In the north, you’ll encounter the Zambezian flooded grasslands, including the renowned Busanga Swamps, where herbivores and their predators thrive year-round, creating a paradise for game-viewing enthusiasts.
Game Drives: Numerous lodges and camps in Kafue offer game drives led by knowledgeable guides, providing insights into the park’s ecology and wildlife. Day and night drives offer distinct perspectives on the park’s inhabitants.
Walking Safaris: Immerse yourself in the African bush through walking safaris, often conducted overnight, allowing for an unforgettable camping experience in the wild.
Balloon Flights: Seasonally, you can explore the park from the skies, offering breathtaking views of the landscape and wildlife below.
Boat Safaris: Cruise along the Kafue River, home to hippos and crocodiles, providing a unique vantage point for observing animals as they come to the water’s edge to drink.
Kafue’s allure lies not only in its wildlife but also in its remote and exclusive nature. If you seek a destination off the beaten path or are a repeat visitor to Zambia, Kafue National Park is the perfect choice. While it may not promise big animal sightings at every turn, it offers a unique blend of wilderness, serenity, and exclusivity that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
Citizens (ZK): K33.60
Residents/SADC Nationals (USD): $15
Non-residents (USD): $20