Kafue's incredibly diverse terrain boasts whole tracts of pristine bush, seasonal floodplains, and woodland studded with huge granite hills that hold equally diverse wildlife. It is more than twice the size of the Luangwa, yet is regarded as the country’s ‘third’ safari area. We recommend putting the checklist away and just letting the drama and beauty of Kafue unfold in front of you, whether that’s casting your eyes over the seasonal floodplains to watch lion and cheetah stalk the plentiful red lechwe and puku or cruising down the Kafue River to see hippos, crocodiles, and any of the 490 bird species that have been recorded here.
Where to stay
On the whole, the camps in Kafue are not of the quality of the Luangwa or Lower Zambezi operations. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. A handful of luxury and high-end lodges have discovered the advantages of this stunningly remote and wild section of Zambia, and have set up camps overlooking the grazing grounds of the vast Busanga Plains in the far north-east corner of the park. In particular, we love the six tents at Shumba Camp. Raised on wooden platforms, this is by far one of Zambia’s most opulent lodges, featuring en-suite indoor and outdoor showers, lovely views, and activities such as traditional game drives, night drives, walking safaris, and even hot air balloon safaris. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to embrace Zambia’s more intrepid side, go with Busanga Bush Camp, a no-frills four-tented camp with real character, a thrilling predator-rich location, and unparalleled photographic opportunities when the mist rises off the floodplains in the morning.
Another YZ favourite is the small and characterful tented camp Musekese, located on the banks of the Kafue River. This camp offers some of the best guiding we've experience, thanks to camp-owners and first-rate guides, Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith.
Game driving by day and by night, as well as walking safaris. Some of the camps here also offer boating safari and fishing.
Time of year to travel
Kafue is a classic dry-season reserve, with the game getting progressively better, the later you travel. June through to November is the only time the best camps are open. As the game viewing improves, the heat increases, with October the hottest month. Kafue’s main camps are shut from December through to May – we advise against trying to travel here during that period.
This park has long been all about the Busanga Plains; however, safari enthusiasts who spend longer in Kafue can find it very rewarding to explore its less famous areas especially the rivers. You are almost guaranteed to have a huge park pretty much to yourself and the sheer volume and diversity of life will always impress. A wonderful place.