Kafue is Zambia’s oldest national park and by far the largest. It was proclaimed in 1950 and is spread over 22,400 square kilometers – the second largest national park in the world and about the size of Wales.
Despite the Park’s proximity to both Lusaka and the Copperbelt, it has remained underdeveloped until the most recent years. Despite the deprivations of poaching and lack of management, the Park is still a raw and diverse slice of African wilderness with excellent game viewing, birdwatching and fishing opportunities.
From the astounding Busanga Plains in the North-western section of the Park to the tree-choked wilderness, and the lush dambos of the south, and fed by the emerald green Lunga, Lufupa and Kafue Rivers, the park sustains huge herds of a great diversity of wildlife.
The lush grasslands are grazed by red lechwe in their thousands. Fifty years ago, lechwe was almost extinct in this area; however, the establishment of the national park has seen a phenomenal recovery in their numbers and it is a sight of great beauty to see them wandering in such vast herds across the golden plains. During the wet season they splash about in the shallow waters, and, interestingly enough, lion, who usually dislike water, can be seen chasing them through water at least a half a meter deep.
Other antelope found here are blue wildebeest, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest (frequently seen), buffalo, zebra, reedbuck, oribi, puku and impala. Bushpig and warthog are also inhabitants of the plains. The shy swamp-dwelling sitatunga is found here, its widespread hooves enabling it to walk on the floating reedmats. Roan antelope are also seen regularly in the northern sector as well as big herds of sable 30 to 40 strong.
The wealth of game on the plains is a big attraction for lions and pride of up to twenty are spotted regularly. Cheetah and Leopard also roam the plains, the cheetah being able to exercise their famous turn of speed. There is also a host of smaller carnivores from the side-striped jackal, civet, genet and various mongoose.
Birdwatching – especially on the rivers and the dambos, is superb. Notables include the wattled crane, purple crested lourie and Pel’s fishing owl. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded throughout the park.
The Kafue and Lunga Rivers offer superb fishing opportunities, especially good bream, barbel and fresh water pike. Most lodges have fishing tackle, rods, boats and bait available. Musungwa Lodge in the south hosts an annual fishing competition in September on Lake Itezhi Tezhi.