Travelling through the Kafue is in large part about scale and diversity – very few parks anywhere are bigger or more biodiverse. But while contemplating the macro, be sure not to ignore the minutiae – and the best way to do this is definitely to get out on foot.
As with all of Zambia’s National Parks, it’s possible to undertake a walking safari here in the company of a highly-experienced guide and an armed ranger, a privilege not afforded to many wildlife-rich wildernesses on the continent.
The Kafue is altitudinally higher than Zambia’s other two wildlife hotspots, the Luangwa Valley and Lower Zambezi. This means it is significantly cooler and never experiences the extreme (110+F /43+C) temperatures at the height of the dry season, consequently making it much more comfortable to walk in during September, October and November.
The lifeblood of the park is its eponymous river which, unlike the Luangwa and lower stretches of the Zambezi, is ever changing. Therefore a walking safari undertaken at Musekese, following old river courses and drying lagoons, is a totally different experience to climbing inselbergs and visiting the rapids at Kaingu, or walking along the lakeshore of Itezhi-Tezhi. Walking at three locations in the Kafue is akin to visiting three separate National Parks.
It’s fair to say that the Kafue has something of a reputation for the presence of tsetse flies, but these are far greater a nuisance in a vehicle than when you are on foot. This is because they are predisposed to follow large movement and the dust put up by a landcruiser is like that of a herd of buffalo – a great food source for this biting fly. Walk slowly and quietly through the beautiful riverine glades and you are unlikely to encounter any at all. Local knowledge is a great defence against the fly and walking guides hold local knowledge in spades.