If you think about a national park in Zambia Kafue National Park probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. It might be the well known South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi National Park. Tour operators tend to skip Kafue and the fancy travel shows hardly cover this great park. It is however the largest and oldest park in Zambia and it’s definitely worth a visit. In this post we’ve listed five reasons why to visit Kafue Nationaal Park in Zambia but first some facts.
Facts about Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is one of the largest national parks in Africa. It covers 22.400 square kilometers (!) in Western Zambia. The park was named after the 250 kilometers long Kafue River which flows through the park. It’s a true Zambian river with both its source and end of its course in this East African country. The Itezhi-Tezhi lake is situated right in the middle of the park. The park is divided into a Northern and Southern section by the M9 road.
The famous Busanga Plains in the Northern Section
Way up north in the most remote part of Kafue National Park you’ll find the Busanga Plains. This is where the animals migrate to in the dry months. There’s a big chance of seeing plenty of Lechwes by that time. National Geographic’s Swamp Lions documentary was shot in this area. In the rainy season the Lufupa River often floods which causes the plains to become inaccessible. Most of the camps will be closed by that time of year.
The unknown Nanzhila Plains in the Southern Section
Southern Kafue is characterized by massive grassy plains; also known as the Nanzhila Plains. These plains share this part of the park with amazing mopane- and teak forests. In the most southern part of the park you’ll even find some Kalahari sand.
Best time to visit Kafue National Park
The dry months, from June to October are the best months to visit Kafue National Park. In the rainy season the park is really pretty as well but it might be hard to reach all the places you want to go to. In the dry season you’re also more likely to spot wildlife. The Busanga Plains are only accessible in the dry season.
How to get to Kafue National Park
There are several ways to get to Kafue National Park. This depends on the area you want to visit and how adventurous you are. You can also decide to fly into the park which is obviously more expensive. There are a number of bush airstrips such as Ngoma, Chungu and Lufupa. Then there are some camps that will fly you into their accommodation such as Wilderness Safaris.
If you want to visit the northern part of the park it’s best to take the M9 from (or towards) Lusaka. You would have to book a lodge or get a tour operator to take you to the Busanga Plains since there are no facilities or roads for self-drivers.
When you opt for the southern part you have a couple of options. You can take the M9 again or take the ‘spinal’ road along the Itezhi-Tezhi lake. If you start from Livingstone you can take an adventurous route through Kalomo.
We decided to take this route. It took us almost 11 hours just to get from Livingstone to the Ngoma airstrip in the middle of the bush. The dirt road to the park starts in Kalomo. You literally drive through the Kalomo market after which you will take countless small and deteriorated gravel roads. You’ll meet a lot of people, often on bikes, that want to chat with you. The road is almost as adventurous as the road once you’re inside the park. We were lucky that we took this road in the dry season as some other people met were stuck for over 24 hours on this road in the rainy season. Do check the road conditions before you set off!
You may also like Into the Wild in Zambia – Kafue
Number of days to spend in Kafue
You can easily spend three to five days in this huge and diverse park.
Lodges in Kafue National Park
These lodges all offer an amazing place to stay and a myriad of ways to experience the African bush.
Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp
Kaingu Safari Lodge
Ila Safari Lodge
Kantunta Safari Lodge
Mukambi Safari Lodge
Fig Tree Bush Camp
Busanga Plains Camp
Kafue National Park campings
You may also like Camping at Hippo Bay and Kasabushi
5 reasons why Kafue National Park is such a special park
So to sum it up:
- Unspoiled nature
Kafue National Park is known for its big diversity in ecosystems being open plains, mopane- and teak forest, swamps and savannah. Due to the yearly floods nature is at its best and still pretty much unspoiled.
Kafue is such a different park compared to for example South Luangwa. It’s a proper wild experience being in the bush. It’s just you and the wildlife around you so if you go here be prepared. Take all your own food, drinks and camping equipment since you have to be completely self-sufficient.
- The biggest park in Zambia
The park is 22,400 square kilometers and one of the prettiest in Zambia in terms of scenery. It offers pretty much anything you could think of when going on safari.
- Diversity in wildlife
There are 55 different animals that can be found in Kafue National Park. No other park in Zambia has got that much wildlife. You have the opportunity to spot leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs, elephants and buffalos amongst others. It’s also the number one place to be if you’re a birder. Over 478 species can be found in Kafue.
- No tourists
You would think that a park like this would be super busy. This is definitely not the case. We hardly saw any tourists when we were there. Some days we didn’t see anyone. While we were driving on the main road, the M9, we spotted a pack of wild dogs that decided to chill on the road. We spend almost two hours with them without seeing anyone, incredible.
Like this article? Share it!