Approximately 200km west of Lusaka, Kafue National Park is one of the largest and wildest protected areas in the world. Covering more than 22,000 square kilometres, Kafue was originally established as a protected area in 1950.
The astounding variety of ecosystems within this area include lush, riverine forest along the banks of the Kafue River and its main tributaries, open mixed woodland of mature teak and miombo trees, grassy plains and the seasonally flooded Busanga Swamps in the north of the Park which alone covers 750 square kilometres! The Itezhi-Tezhi Dam in the south of the Park covers 370 square kilometres and is more of an inland sea than a dam, providing habitat for the African fish eagle and numerous heron species among many others.
In addition to the more commonly sighted African species such as lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, hippo and hyena, Kafue is home to many rare and endangered species now found in very few areas of the continent. Such species include the sable antelope and the red lechwe, puku and sitatunga antelope species which thrive in semi-aquatic swamp areas. Over 400 bird species can be found in Kafue, and similarly these include many rare species such as the majestic wattled crane, the large, and elusive, Pel\’s fishing owl and the purple crested lourie.
The bad condition of the Park\’s roads is a blessing for the protection of the delicate ecosystems which now thrive despite a previous history of poaching and lack of management. Since the establishment of the Park, a lack of human activity and development has allowed populations to increase steadily and Kafue remains a raw, Africa wilderness providing a home to many hundreds of species of animals, birds, reptiles and fish. Wildlife viewing is best between April and October, during the dry season when animals are drawn to more permanent water sources.
Most of the Park\’s roads are inaccessible from November to April. The best way to visit Kafue is with an organized, guided safari, enabling visitors to enjoy the wilderness with the support of knowledgeable professionals.