Kafue National Park – The practical guide to Zambia’s largest park

Hippo and red lechwe in the mist, Busanga plains, Kafue

Keen for some big game viewing with hardly another vehicle in sight? That’s exactly what you’ll experience at the largely untouched Kafue National Park. Situated in the center of western Zambia and densely populated with wildlife, Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest park in the country.

The vastness of Kafue offers diverse landscapes, with varying terrain on different ends of the park. This makes for an exciting and varied safari experience, without having to visit different reserves. Pink sunrises will get you up in the morning and star-filled nights will put you to sleep.

Spy on lions, wild dogs, and spotted hyenas as they prey on red lechwe, puku antelope, and other species grazing on the seasonal floodplains. A trip to Kafue National Park is a wildlife adventure like no other.

Visiting This Zambian National Park

With the park being so vast, it can be a little daunting planning your trip. The park is the second largest in the world, covering an area of 22 400 km² which is a similar size to Wales or Massachusetts!

This means you have plenty of opportunities to spot 152 species of game in all corners of the park. The below guide will make sure you know how to get there and where to stay to ensure you maximize every minute of your African adventure.

How to get to Kafue National Park

Road track in Kafue National Park, Zambia

Located in the center of Western Zambia, the park stretches generously over three provinces, the North Western, Southern, and Central. Nestled between Livingstone and Lusaka, the national park is very accessible for visitors.

If you plan on driving to Kafue National Park, the drive from Livingstone and Lusaka is only about 3-4 hours, depending on which area of the park you fancy visiting. For more detailed directions and travel information check out how to get to Kafue.

For a smoother trip to Kafue, daily charter planes can land at one of the three airstrips – Ngoma, Chunga, and Lufupa. This is perfect for guests staying at one of the luxury lodges or tented camps, who wouldn’t need a vehicle of their own.

Where to stay at Kafue National Park

There are a variety of accommodation options in the park, so you don’t have to break the bank at one of the luxury lodges. With lovely and affordable accommodation also on offer, you can find something to suit all your needs as you choose between remote tented camps, campsites, and luxury safari experiences.

If you are looking to indulge in all the modern luxuries of a decadent safari lodge try out Shumba Camp and Konkamoya Lodge. With plunge pools, private decks, and daily safari activities, you’ll feel like royalty on your trip.

If you prefer a more rustic experience, check out Lufupa Tented Camp and Hippo Lodge. These are more budget-friendly options that don’t compromise on comfort or your overall experience in the park.

It’s important to note that if you are wanting to camp overnight in the park, you cannot simply set up a tent anywhere that you’d like. You need to book into and stay in one of the privately run campsites such as Mayukuyuku Campsite, Kasabushi Campsite, or Hippo Bay Campsite.

The Kafue, Zambia Safari Experience

You’re in for a wildlife experience like no other at Kafue National Park. Whether you are in private game vehicles or traversing the landscapes of the park on your own, you are sure to feast your eyes on some exquisite wildlife.

You can also enjoy game viewing in a more unique way, by taking advantage of the different activities offered on the reserve. Keep reading to find out more about these.

Wildlife found in Kafue National Park

Majestic male lion resting on the Busanga Plains, Kafue

With 152 species of game freely roaming around, keep your eyes peeled for the majestic creatures of the animal kingdom. If you are after the Big 5, it shouldn’t take long to spot lions, elephants, buffalo, and leopards. Unfortunately, however, the park is not home to any rhino.

If spotting rare and beautiful birds is more your thing then you too are in the right place. With an astounding 490 bird species recorded in the reserve, this truly is a bird-watchers paradise.

Keep an eye out for Zambia’s national emblem, the African fish eagle. Seeing one of these regal birds soar through the sky is something to behold.

Other activities in the park

Most camps and lodges are able to arrange guided safari walks, where you can get up close and personal with the sometimes overlooked smaller creatures and ecosystems in the park. Boat safaris and canoe trips (for the brave) are also available, offering a better look at the crocodiles and hippos that inhabit the Kafue rivers and wetlands.

Another once-in-a-lifetime activity in Kafue is seeing the vast plains and wildlife from above. You can book a hot air balloon ride over the park and enjoy a truly magical way to capture the special feeling found in the African bush.

This is not only one of the most amazing things to do in Kafue, but one of the best tourist attractions in Zambia as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first safari, you may have a couple of questions. Check out the list of FAQs below that cover questions about Kafue. After taking a look at these answers, you will be 100% ready for the adventure that awaits you.

When is the best time to visit Kafue?

Male puku antelope fighting

The best time to visit Kafue National Park would be during the dry months of June-October. During this season you’ll be treated to pleasant temperatures that do not get unbearably hot. With this in mind, the evenings can get a little cool, so it’s best to take a light jacket when traveling during these months.

The bush is also dried out and thin during this time. Meaning loads of thirsty animals head to the rivers and waterholes to quench their thirst, making it a great time for game viewing.

The wet season starts from about November, so if you want to avoid the rain ruining your game viewing, try to avoid this month altogether. The Busanga Plains are also often off-limits during the wet season as they frequently flood during this time. Some camps in the park even close from February to May due to heavy rainfall.

Is Kafue a malaria-risk area?

Yes, Kafue is a malaria-risk area and you should take precautions before traveling. Visit your local doctor before departure to find out about any health recommendations. It might also be useful to inquire about antimalarials.

It’s best to wear long clothes in the evening to cover your skin. You should also use mosquito repellent, especially in the evenings.

The ideal amount of time to spend in Kafue National Park?

An endangered African wild dog in Kafue National Park, Zambia

Stay in the park for at least 48 hours or more. In most cases, whether you drive or fly to Kafue, you would have traveled for a couple of hours or nearly the whole day, so it’s worth it to spend at least two days in the park.

One day is absolutely not enough time to capture even a glimpse of what Kafue has to offer. With so much to discover in every corner of the expansive park, you are going to want at least a few days to soak it all in.

The ideal amount of time to spend in the park would be between 4-7 days, as this allows you time to visit several camps and experience different terrains of the park. It also gives you more time to spot the rare wild dog, of which it’s estimated that Kafue has the largest population of than any other African national park.

Are the roads in Kafue easy to drive on?

The roads within Kafue are in decent condition. You will however need some off-road driving experience and a 4×4 if you decide to brave the roads of the park in your own vehicle.

You also won’t need to worry about the roads leading to the park, as the main roads that you will travel on are from Lusaka and Livingstone. These roads are also in good condition, making the journey an easy one.

Discovering Kafue National Park

Lone male sable antelope in the Kafue

Home to the spectacular Busanga Plains and large Kafue River, the diversity and beauty of Kafue National Park will mesmerize you. From daily game drives in search of whatever animal you want to add to your sightings list, to calm sunset boat cruises, there is no better place to experience all that Africa has to offer.

One of the best things about Kafue is that it’s a hidden gem that isn’t overpopulated with visitors, meaning your safari experience will be less commercial and more one of a kind. Lodges and campsites also go out of their way to tailor your trip to be one of your best ones yet.

So what are you waiting for? Book your safari now with these great deals.

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