The largest reserve in Zambia and the second largest national park in all of Africa, Kafue National Park covers an area the size of Massachusetts in southwestern Zambia. The remote park was established in 1924 by the British colonial government but to this day remains largely unexplored. Bisected from north to south by the broad slow-flowing Kafue River, the park’s fertile grasslands and miombo and mopane woodlands attract incredible concentrations of wildlife.
The jewel of Kafue is the Busanga Plains in the northern section of the park. Busanga is a vast floodplain of the Lufupa tributary, and for much of the year the plains are submerged below seasonal floodwaters. This region is home not just to hundreds of bird species, but to herds of sitatunga, red lechwe, puku, impala, wildebeest, hartebeest, buffalo, and zebra, all of which in turn support impressive populations of lion, leopard, and cheetah. But all these species can be encountered in many parts of the vast park. In recent decades the Kafue elephant population has rebounded from illegal poaching during the 1980s and 1990s. Crocodiles inhabit nearly all stretches of the Kafue River and its major tributaries.
At around 4,000 feet, the region has a somewhat milder climate than the lower Zambezi and Luangwa valleys. During the wet season (November through May), the park is at its most lush and viral, but some areas can become inaccessible. The dry season is the best time for 4x4 game drives, and any time of year visitors can enjoy cruises on the Kafue River.