Kafue National Park, Zambia
You might have had the opportunity to visit Maasai Mara in Kenya, Serengeti in Tanzania or maybe Kruger in South Africa; all of them famous African safari destinations. But the thing about Kafue, and particularly the southern half of Kafue, is that visitor numbers are so low that the elusive “wilderness feeling” is perfectly preserved. Kafue offers a safari experience that has disappeared from many parts of Africa: it’s remote, sledom-visited and perfectly preserved.
Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park and contains a variety of habitats: the beating heart of the park is the Kafue River which flows across the undulating plateau creating mosaics of Myombo and riverine woodlands dotted with occasional grassy pans. A “pan” is a small depressions which holds seasonal water; they are known as “vlei” in neighbouring Zimbabwe; in England, we have “dew ponds” which are diminutive versions of an African vlei. There are a host of smaller waterways which makes Kafue perfect for a varied safari.
The Kafue River is wide, deep and slow and home to large hippo pods and numerous croc’s. Tall, shady hardwood trees overhang the banks and mid-stream islands are favourite spots for larger mammals such as elephant and buffalo.
In the extreme north of the park lies the Busanga Plain, a seasonal floodplain: dry for half the year and submerged for half the year. Before the year 2000 virtually no-one visited this area and it really was a Hidden Gem. Nowadays there is a range of excellent lodges and the logistics of safariing are first class. Check this link http://ventureco.wpengine.com/zambia-seasons-weather-in-zambia/ for a guide to the seasons because it’s crucial to get the timing right in you plan to visit the Busanga Plain.
The River Lufupa flows into the Busanga Swamps and from mid-December the waters expand across the Busanga Plain creating a waterscape dotted with islands – quite beautiful – which remain until the end of Feb. Huge herds of red lechwe and puku, as well as other herbivores, are attracted. And where there are herbivores, there are predators.
South Kafue has a completely different feel: the game density is probably lower, but there are fewer visitors and fewer lodges. However, this is where you’ll experience the wilderness feeling of remote Africa. The few lodges that are here are excellent; the guiding is first class and the safari experience really very good indeed. See KaingU as an excellent example.