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Kafue National Park reviews

7 reviews

“Kafue is a true wilderness with plenty of birds and rare animals in an untamed landscape.” - Morgan

Remote wilderness to explore

Views: 164 Visited: Jun 2015 Reviewed: Jun 05, 2018

Kafue National Park in Zambia is one of the more remote and wild-feeling Southern African safari destinations. At 9,000 square miles, it’s Zambia’s biggest and oldest park. Kafue hosts the highest diversity of ungulate species in Africa including many rare antelopes such as sitatunga, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, defassa waterbuck, and yellow-backed duiker. The bird list, at nearly 500 species, will keep bird watchers endlessly entertained, while a variety of habitats spanning miombo woodlands, teak forests, grassy dambos, swamps, and riverine vegetation provide plenty of scenic beauty.

Kafue’s diversity is truly something special, but visitors should not expect non-stop game viewing action. Much of Kafue is covered by low nutrient miombo woodlands, which means wildlife densities are relatively low. Kafue’s wildlife also tends toward the shy side. Safari goers interested in speeding between big five sightings might be disappointed here. But visitors who are after a wilderness experience with the occasional special sighting will be well rewarded in Kafue. A ‘wilderness enjoyment’ mindset is also a positive asset when dealing with the annoying tsetse flies that are part of Kafue’s diversity. When a tsetse gives you a painful bite, try to remember that these flies are the reason this vast park is still wild and was never converted to land for livestock.

Kafue covers a huge area, so most visitors will choose one or two sections to explore. In the south, grassy plains split up the monotony of the miombos. Some of our best sightings here were serval, elephants, roan antelope, and crowned cranes. The south is accessible with a good 4x4 for self-drivers from Livingstone. Self-drivers need to be experienced and well-prepared for any emergency. You can go days without encountering another vehicle.

The central section around Hook Bridge features the highest density of lodges and tourist infrastructure, concentrated along the Kafue River. Still, you will encounter few other visitors. It is accessible from the tar road out of Lusaka. Here there is a good chance of finding lion, leopard, and elephant and plenty of birds in the riverine vegetation. Special ticks for us included African Finfoot and Half-collared Kingfisher. It’s a day’s trip south along the newly opened Spinal Road to visit Lake Itezhi-Tezhi and the teak forests. The lake is home to hippos, and plenty of wildlife grazes along the banks. We saw cheetah here and large herds of elephant.

The highlight of Kafue is Busanga Swamps in the far north, one of the most special landscapes in Africa. This section teams with water-loving wildlife like puku, lechwe, hippos, and water birds. The animal density here is higher than anywhere else in the park. Elephant and buffalo frequent the area, and you have a good chance of finding resident lion, leopard, and cheetah. The sunrises and scenery here are awe inspiring. Unfortunately, Busanga is only accessible to those staying in one of the area’s three luxury lodges, which are only open July to September when the flood waters recede. But if you can afford it, Busanga is not to be missed. For a special treat, you can even explore the swamps in a hot air balloon.
For wilderness lovers who know what to expect, Kafue is a dream.

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