UNDERSOLD, UNDER-APPRECIATED AND WONDERFULLY WILD THE KAFUE IS CURRENTLY ENJOYING A RENAISSANCE THROUGH A COLLECTION OF PARTICULARLY OWNER-OPERATED CAMPS
THIS EXPEDITION TAKES YOU BY FOOT, JEEP, BOAT, CANOE AND HOT AIR BALLOON THROUGH THE HEART OF ONE OF AFRICA'S GREATEST PARKS
Arriving in Zambia' capital Lusaka, you'll transfer to a six-seater Cessna for your charter flight to the Busanga Plains in the far north of Kafue National Park. Landing on the edge of the plain you'll be met by your guide and driven in open vehicle to Busanga Bush Camp, set in a palm and fig tree island, surrounded by herbivores feasting on the blonde grasses.
If I ever can, I will go back to the Busanga Plains, to the dreaming distances of the grasslands, the clusters of trees like islands and the hot east winds”
The Busanga Plains
Arriving by light aircaft is a great way to see that the 720 sq km Busanga Plains are an ancient lake bed, scattered with tree islands and seasonaly flooded by the Lufupa River leaving rich grazing through the dry season.
These plains attract buffalo, hartebeest, roan, sable, waterbuck, zebra, reedbuck, wildebeest, lechwe, oribi and puku who in turn attrcat the predators - large black-maned lions, leopard, cheetah, hunting dogs and hyeana.
Busanga is the Kafue's most conventional game-viewing area with most excursions being undertaken in an open vehicle. On one of the mornings there is the wonderful opportunity to float over the plains in Zambia's only hot-air balloon, followed by a champagne breakfast wherever you should land.
From Busanga its a half-day drive through magnifcent mature Miombo woodland to Musekese. Along the way you'll have your first views of the Kafue River which will be a contant feature from here on, although dramatically changing character at each location - wide and meandering at Musekese; narrow, straight and fast at Kaingu and finally a large, flat lake at Konkamoya.
Musekese is a lovely little camp from which you can undertake walking safaris in the riverine woodland, boat on the river itself - which is particularly good for approaching elephant at close-quarters - as well as undertaking conventional game-drives. We particularly recommend the walking in this unusuallyfire-free area, expertly guided with both passion and substance this is arguably the most intense experience of the journey.
Days 7 & 8
Another substantial drive through the middle of the park takes you to Kaingu and will take the best part of half a day. It's worth remembering that on all these drives that you are never leaving the park and all that you see en route is the exclusive preserve of the wildlife. Maps and flying don't do it justice and walking would take weeks.
Kaingu is set on a stunning stretch of the Kafue. A beautiful, unsusually private, owner-operated camp with a level of attention to detail second to none.
The river is the star here, splitting from a single course into multidudinous rocky streams it's a crazy wonderland of endless islands which are possible to explore via boat or canoe. Kaingu offers the best canoeing on the Kafue, good walking and an excellent chance to spot sable for those willing to work for them in the local forests.
Days 9 & 10
The final big intra-Kafue drives brings you down to Konkamoya Camp on the shores of Lake Itezhi Tezhi. Here the short green grass grazing plains sloping gently down to the lake are are magnet for both birds and beasts. Some people ponder whether to include Konkamoya but we'd absolutely encourage you to do so for the contrast, plus it's a great spot to reflect on what you've seen along the way.
While having the facilities (large well-appointed tents) and aura of a conventional safari camp, Konkamoya is actually nothing of the sort, being wonderfully anomalous and eccentric - run with a charming mix of flair and chaos by its idiosyncratic Italian proprietor.
After breakfast its the last long drive - this time out of thep park via the Itezhi Thezhi dam wall and back on to the bitumen, on to the airport for your flight home.
A NOTE FROM ROD
MISCONCEPTIONS AND MISINFORMATION
The Kafue has long had a reputation for fiercesome tsetse flies and scant wildlife - neither of which is deserved. This rumour was largely perpetuated by self-driving South Africans in the 1990s, who ventured in to the Kafue with little knowledge of what they were doing or where they were going - this being a land of few roads and fewer maps.
Local knowledge is absolutely key in getting the best out of any wilderness area and nowhere is this more true in the Kafue. There are tsetse in the Kafue and drive around blindly for hours and you are sure to find plenty. The park also contains more species of antelope than any other, although finding them all will require determination and yes, you guessed it, local knowledge.
If you are in search of the formulaic: the one-size-fits-all, lowest-common-demoniator, guaranteed sightings with automaton guides then steer well clear of the Kafue.
If however the lure of somewhere properly off-the-beaten-path, which will continually surprise you and where you'll be in the company of people who are genuinely passionate about the place in which they live and work appeals, then the Kafue could be for you.
For those fortunate enough to have experienced a few safaris an increasing fear that we hear is a gentrification of the genre - the smoothing-off of the rough edges and the demise of the charachterful in favour of the formulaic. There may be some truth of this in some places, but certainly not the Kafue. This is old-style safari-ing taken back to its routes where a significant journey can be made and thoroughly enjoyed, with a lot of the pleasure derived from the travel itself.
Our experienced travellers include:
It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.
All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.