The Kafue National Park is the second-largest park in Africa, and the largest and oldest conservation area in Zambia. It covers a total landmass area of about 22,400 km², sharing the same size with Massachusetts or Wales. It is considered a massive home to more than 150 mammal species and over 500 bird species.
Found in the center of western Zambia, the national park is named after the Kafue River, which stretches over the following provinces: north-western, central, and southern. The primary access to this park is via the Great West Road.
The area was initially established as a national park by Norman Carr in the 1950’s. Despite its vast size and great diversity of wildlife, the Kafue National Park remains relatively uncommon and unexplored by tourists, with some tracts still left untouched. During recent years, the Kafue National Park has become more well-managed, as there is significant growth in the number of safari lodges and camos being operated in the area. These features attracted and encouraged more people to visit the park. The continuous rise of visitors comes with an increased level of wildlife protection by the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
Fauna in Kafue National Park
A sheer number of wildlife awaits for you in Kafue National Park. This conservation area has a wide range of antelopes, zebras, and blue wildebeests wandering around the Busanga Plains, especially in June. This is where you will spot kudus, bushbucks, duikers, grysboks, waterbucks, pukus, and more. Rare antelopes such as blue and yellow-backed duikers are also common. Lions are widespread throughout the park, but larger males are an uncommon sight.
Locals consider this national park as one of the best places in the entire continent to find a leopard. You can spot inconspicuous and elusive predators in certain places and times because night drives are allowed in this national park. While leopards remain a common sight, you would rarely find cheetahs in this area. Another sought-after sight are African wild dogs. Known for their exceptional agility and elusiveness, these predators are hard to find. However, the Kafue National Park holds one of the largest populations of this daring species in Africa.i
Along the Kafue River, tourists can delight themselves in the beautiful view of hippos, elephants, and the largest and probably deadliest crocodiles in southern Africa.
Back in the day, Kafue holds one of the largest populations of rhinoceros across the entire continent. But due to its history of poaching, not even a single species exists in the area. Elephants also used to be abundant in the place, with more than 60,000 individuals taking refuge in the conservation area. Presently, the estimated numbers are at 4,000.
Nevertheless, the historical decline in populations does not make the Kafue National Park less of an ideal travel must-visit.
Activities and highlights of a trip to Kafue National Park
One of the main highlights of the park is the grassy seasonal floodplains that serve as a grazing paradise for a variety of mammal species, such as red lechwes, pukus, buffalos, and wildebeests, all of which are usually preyed on by African wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, and spotted hyenas. The excellent gaming view in Busanga gives you a spectacular view of pink sunrises and a picturesque silhouette of grazing antelopes.
The most notable activities in the national park include the following:
Specialized safari tours – Tours take place anywhere from days to weeks long. You can freely personalize your safari trips with your local tour guides for a more rewarding experience.
Walking safaris – Walk through the African bush and witness the beauty of nature and the variety of animals it supports. You can also camp in the bushes.
Balloon flights – Occasionally, you can explore the national park from the sky—ride a hot air balloon to see a breathtaking view of the terrain and wildlife.
Other adventures – You can go on day/night drives, birding drives, guided walks, fishing, canoeing, boating, camping, and the like. There are tour operators that offer tourists to explore beyond what’s inside the national park. They urge visitors to witness the country’s other highlights, such as the famous Victoria Falls and even highlights of neighboring countries.
With these facts said, make sure to don’t forget to add the Kafue National Park to your itinerary for your trip to Africa!