Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is an icon amongst Zambia’s National Parks. It was established as a National Park during the 1950’s and covers an incredible 22 400 km2. Large areas of the park remain unexplored and hold a rich diversity of wildlife thanks to its size and variety of habitat. Its attraction is its exclusivity and excellent game viewing with barely another soul in sight!
Throughout the park, the permanent Kafue River follows a well-defined course, and widens in a few places where barriers of harder rocks near the surface force it into shallow, rocky rapids. Bordering the Eastern side of Southern Kafue is Lake Itezhi-Tezhi – a large, manmade lake that was created in 1977.
The Northern section of Kafue National Park is a slightly undulating plateau, veined by rivers – the Lufupa, the Lunga, the Ntemwa, the Mukombo, the Mukunashi, and the Lubuji – which are all tributaries of the main Kafue, whose basin extends to the border with DRC.
In the far North of Kafue National Park, the Lufupa River flows into the Busanga Swamps. During the rains, this floods out over the adjacent Busanga Plains. Later, around May, when these waters recede, they leave behind a carpet of lush vegetation – which is irresistible to many herbivores
Southern Kafue has been largely ignored for many years. The reality is that the game can be quite patchy, clustered around areas where it has historically been best protected. These areas have been expanding recently though, and it’s gradually becoming an area worth visiting for more old Africa hands who value the exploration as much as the game-sightings.
Covering such a large area, with a variety of habitats, Kafue is rich in wildlife and many of its species seem to exhibit strong local variations in their distribution. This is a reflection of the wide variety of habitats in such a large park.
Kafue has a superb range of antelope and it’s possible to visit and see large herds of red lechwe and puku, with smaller groups of zebra and blue wildebeest in the Busanga Plains around June, when it starts to dry out. Across the Northern half of the park, there’s a good range of mixed bush environments, and here kudu, bushbuck, eland, reedbuck, common duiker, grysbok and defassa waterbuck are all frequently seen .Lion are relatively widespread all over the park, but the larger males are increasingly uncommon, with inevitable consequences for numbers as a whole. Leopards remain very common throughout the main forested areas of the park, though they are seldom seen on the open plains. Spotted hyenas are seen regularly, though not often, throughout the park. Cheetah are not common anywhere, but they’re most frequently seen in the north of the park, where they seem to be thriving. The birding in Kafue is very good.
There have been about 495 species recorded here, suggesting that the park has probably the richest birdlife of any Zambian park.
The park is easily accessed from both Lusaka and Livingstone with a 2-3 hour drive although many prefer to fly in with charter flights.