At 22,400km sq Kafue is substantially larger than Wales, yet in recent years much overlooked. However, this behemoth of a Park is making a long-overdue comeback.
Established in the early 1950s the Kafue is Zambia's oldest and once most popular National Park but has, in the last couple of decades, been overshadowed by South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Valleys.
However there's an astonishing range of safari types on offer in Kafue which make this a park well worth focusing on. These include top-drawer walking safaris, boating, canoeing, day and night-drives and even a jaunt in a hot air balloon.
Natural High's Rod Tether has been guiding in this part of Africa for more than 20 years so has unparralleled exeperience and local knowledge. Rod would be happy to help you get the best from a visit to Kafue so please drop him an email if you'd like his help.
Often dubbed a connoisseurs choice for its perceived lack of game concentration and a healthy tsetse fly population, what the Kafue has always had is an extraordinary variety of flora, fauna and habitat.
This park hosts more species of antelope than anywhere else, a bird list of 492 (only the much more thoroughly recorded Kruger has more) and a wonderful spectrum of habitats from plains, marsh, forest, hills and lake that make a trip through it akin to visiting several separate National Parks.
The Kafue is the best place in Zambia to see Cheetah and Sable – and as good as anywhere regionally for star attractions such as leopard, lion, wild dog, roan and elephant.
The game is not as concentrated as in the low-veld and never will be, the carrying capacity is different, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in spades with variety and it would not be unusual to sight around 40 species of mammal and over 150 species of birds on a ten day trip.
Being on the plateau the Kafue is a little cooler than the Luangwa and Zambezi Valleys and typically peaks a little later, really coming in to its own from late July onwards
The tsetse, Africa's greatest conservationist, without which the Kafue and many of the other great tracks of wilderness would have undoubtedly been tamed and put to pasture, are certainly present here.
They have been instrumental in keeping the hordes of tourists, as well as the agriculturalists, out. However, local knowledge is an invaluable weapon in minimising their nuisance – if you're concerned about tsestse spoiling your safari to Kafue do talk to us and you can also read a short article about Tsetse and other irritants here
In recent times even the greatest Zambia-philes have been mildly apologetic about the Kafue, concentrating unduly on its aforementioned weaknesses rather than its strengths - and a large part of this has been due to the lack of quality operators in the park championing its cause. Where there was a high quality camp it was a typically stand-alone affair, making a visit to this single area expensive and logistically challenging.
Happily this is changing and there are now several small owner-operated camps in different areas of the park, owned, managed and guided by people who care passionately about the area and are formidably well-versed in all things Natural History.
The Kafue combines well with Zambia's other top parks and the Victoria Falls - but it is also now possible to make a fortnight-long safari in the Kafue alone, staying in camps comparable in quality to anywhere in the Luangwa or Zambezi, exploring different areas and seeing a range of species that you would be hard pressed to equal anywhere.
If you're considering traveling to Kafue we'd be happy to help you plan it. Drop us a line to get started.