Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park was founded in 1924, it is the oldest and largest national park in Zambia and one of the largest in Africa covering an area of approximately 22,400km². The park stretches over three provinces: North Western, Central and Southern.

The park has received less attention than Zambia’s better-known areas, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi even though there is a superb range of animals and birds.

Wildlife of Kafue National Park

Kafue does not offer the sheer numbers of wildlife you would see at the South Luangwa or the Lower Zambezi national parks, however it does play home to 4 of the Big 5. It has a superb range of antelopes including large herds of red lechwe and puku and elusive antelope such as the blue and yellow-backed duiker.

All of Africa’s big cats can be found in the park, even cheetah which cannot be found in South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi. Though not a common site, cheetah are found most frequently in the north of the park. Lions are relatively widespread all over the park, you may witness them stalking herds of puku and lechwe nightly, using the natural drainage ditches for cover with deadly efficiency. If leopard are your favourite big cat then Kafue could be for you, the park is regarded by experts as one of the best places in Africa to find the elusive cat.

It’s not just cats which can be found in the park, Kafue is said to have the largest population of the African wild dogs compared to any other national park in Africa. The wild dogs are on both sides of the Kafue River and in almost all habitat types from dense woodland to riverine and dambo areas.

Kafue also boasts great sightings of more unusual species such as pangolin, bush pig, aardvark, wild cat, honey badger and more.

The birding in Kafue is exceptional, according to Exotic Birding Kafue houses 497 species, this is roughly as much as the whole of Europe and suggests the park has probably the richest birdlife of any Zambian park. Critically endangered and endangered species such as the white-backed vulture, hooded vulture, hottentot buttonquail and gray crowned-crane can be spotted in the park.

Vegetation of Kafue National Park

Open plains, large and small, are found throughout Kafue. The dominant vegetation type is Miombo woodlands, this covers much of central and southern Africa. They provide food and cover for a diverse range of wildlife, including antelopes, lions and elephants.

In the north of the park are the Zambezian flooded grasslands, including the Busanga Swamps which are wet all year around. The swamp supports large herds of herbivores and their predators. Perfect for game viewing.

What to do in Kafue National Park

  1. Game drives:
    There are a number of lodges and camps in Kafue which offer a wide range of activities including game drives. A guide will accompany your drive and show you what to look out for. The guides are highly knowledgeable, so this is a fantastic way to learn more about the park. In Kafue, you can partake in both night and day drives.
  2. Walking safaris:
    Walking safaris get you closer to the African bush, providing a great chance to experience the wilderness. Walking safaris in Kafue National Park often take place overnight giving an opportunity to camp in the bush.
  3. Balloon flights:
    At certain times of the year it is possible to explore the park from above offering spectacular views of the landscape and wildlife.
  4. Boat safaris:
    The Kafue River is home to many hippos and crocs, and a boat safari offers the opportunity to get closer to these animals and provides a rare view point of game coming to the water’s edge to drink.

Who is the park good for?

If you are wanting to see big animals around every turn Kafue may not be for you. The beauty of this park is in the landscape, remoteness and exclusivity. If you are looking for an off the beaten track destination or are a repeat visitor to the country Kafue is the perfect park for you.

Kafue National Park entry fees

Citizens (ZK): K33.60
Residents/SADC Nationals (USD): $15
Non-residents (USD): $20

Where to stay in Kafue

Busanga Bush Camp

Busanga Bush Camp is a hidden gem tucked away on an island of sycamore fig trees and date palms. The camp is in the heart of the Busanga Plains in the Kafue National Park, with some of the most magnificent views of both sunrises and sunsets you will experience. The camp itself is small and remote, the rustic yet elegant feel offers a true safari experience to all guests.

Shumba Camp

Shumba is a luxurious and spacious camp with a very ‘African bush’ feel, it is situated in the very heart of the gorgeous Busanga Plains. You can enjoy views of the stunning floodplains throughout the camp. The lodge is built off the ground and well spread out, it blends in beautifully with its surroundings and you will often see wildlife around the lodge during the days. The lounge area is very comfortable and the campfire a great focal point. Sit around the open fire on the sunken deck with a drink of your choice and enjoy the sounds of the wild for miles around. 

Ila Safari Lodge

Ila Safari Lodge is the first lodge in Zambia to have both an electric powered Land Rover and boat, built using sandbags and entirely powered by the sun. An incredible example of how lodges should be operating sustainably and therefore reducing their footprint. With 10 tented chalets and only a 3-hour drive from Lusaka, it is the perfect combination of remote wilderness and luxurious comfort. The lodge is set in the game management area (GMA) a few Kilometers outside the national park with a number of regular visitors (lions, elephant, hippo & more) venturing outside of the park to visit Ila Safari Lodge.

Tours including this destination

Wild Zambia

17 days / 16 nights
Zambia

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