Established in 1950, the Kafue National Park is arguably the oldest park in all of Africa. It is also the largest park with an astounding 22400sqkm area. Due to mass poaching the number has come down significantly but at 158 species of mammals and over 500 species of birds, the diversity of birds and animals in the park is still quite impressive. And this number along with the total count, is on the rise because now the park comes under the protection of ZAWA, the Zambian Wildlife Authority. Though the park is only a couple of hours away from Lusaka, it is largely untouched by human exploration and has a very non touristy feel to it. Kafue is your very own private Eden; rustic, virgin and full of splendour!
The Kafue river along with its tributaries and the Lake Itezhi Tezhi constitute a prominent feature of the northern and eastern parts of the park. The river abounds with African elephants, large crocodiles, and hippos etc. Seasonally flooded plains called dambos, in the famous Busanga plains in the north along the river banks, attract large number of birds and animals all throughout the year. It is the only place where you can spot packs of African wild dogs. Many documentaries have been made on these plains and Busanga is mentioned in "the top 10 hidden African gems". Camps and lodges are scattered across the banks of the river and you can go fishing or on a boat cruise in the afternoon for a river safari. Many rare species of hoofed animals such as the sitatunga, lechwe, blue and yellow-backed duiker etc are found in the park's swamps and thickets. Semi deciduous, fire resistant woodlands called Miombo are home to other ungulates like roans, sables and hartebeests etc.
The best time to visit Kafue National Park is during the dry months of June to October. Especially the period of July to October as the vegetation is less and games can be easily spotted near the water sources. The famed Bushanga plains are best in the period of August to October and rendred inaccessible in the wet season of November to April. But the wet season has its own lush scenic countenance and good for birding.
Go on a boat cruise for a river safari and witness the landscape transform from flat open grasslands to Miombo woodlands dotted with granite hills. Explore the northern teak forests scattered with hundreds and thousands of years old termite mounds. Explore the southern Nanzhila plains for that true safari experience. Hundreds of species of exotic birds can be viewed throughout the park, especially on the river banks, flood plains and the Lake Itezhi Tehzi. The lakes and rvers also well known for its angling facilities . Go on night drives and spot carnivores like lions, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs preying on pukus and impalas etc.
From Lusaka to Kafue the distance is 48 km and can be covered in around 2-3 hrs on a tarmac road. You can drive yourself or hire a safari company who will drive you in and around the park. You can also opt for chattered flights for a fly-in safari as airstrips are scattered throughout the park.