Kafue National Park

Ranked among the top three African national parks in terms of area, Kafue extends over an incredible 8,600 square miles of Brachystegia woodland in the southwest of Zambia. Though the park is generally rather dry, it is punctuated by several aquatic landmarks, notably the forest-lined Lufupa and Lunga Rivers, manmade Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, and the game-rich Busanga Floodplain. Originally gazetted in 1950, Kafue suffered greatly from poaching in the 1980s and 1990s, but it has since made a strong recovery. Nevertheless, wildlife densities are low by comparison to South Luangwa and a safari here is as much about the wilderness atmosphere as it is the game viewing.

Discover Kafue National Park

The 300-square-mile Busanga Floodplain is Kafue’s game-viewing centerpiece, at least in the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat to reveal a 300-square-mile expanse of moist grassland that recalls the Serengeti. The floodplain’s ample grazers are a magnet for the park’s trademark black-maned lions, and conditions are ideal for cheetahs.

Kafue boasts the longest mammal checklist of any African national park, and it is especially noted for its antelope diversity. This includes greater kudu, bushbuck, sitatunga, eland, impala, oribi, roan antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, wildebeest, the marsh-dwelling red lechwe and puku, and various small antelope.

With almost 500 bird species recorded, Kafue boasts the greatest avian diversity of any Zambian national park. The Busanga Floodplain hosts large flocks of the endangered crowned crane and wattled crane, while noteworthy Brachystegia-dwellers include racquet-tailed roller, pale-billed hornbill, spotted creeper and Arnot’s chat. Southern Kafue is a stronghold for Chaplin’s barbet, the only bird species endemic to Zambia.

In addition to game drives, most camps offer expertly guided walks. Some, depending on location, also run boat safaris to look for hippo and crocodile. Motorboats trips on the Lufupa and Lunga Rivers offer the best opportunity anywhere to tick the localized African finfoot.

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