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Emerging from the tiny plane and onto the plains of the Kafue, it’s the endless, horizon-stretching size of that place that really hits you. Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park but, often lost in the shadow of the popular South Luangwa and with a meagre infrastructure, there are only a handful of camps and even fewer visitors. But don’t let that deter you – come armed with a little patience and the rewards are spectacular. Think cheetah and lion roaming in the golden grass, herds of red lechwe, puku and wildebeest and hunting packs of wild dog. Busanga Plains in the north is also worth exploring with its enormous swathes of grasslands, picturesque wild date palms and excellent big game.

Things To Do In Kafue National Park

Kafue National Park Safaris

Track wildlife on a game drive

Fed by the mighty Kafue River, the lush plains are loved and lived in by wildlife aplenty. We’re talking puku, spectacular herds of red lechwe, buffalo and wildebeest, the rare roan antelope, cheetah and, of course, the famous lions of Kafue. And with two safari drives a day from most camps (in the early morning and late afternoon), you should have the chance to see as much of it as possible. In the moments when your binoculars aren’t affixed to your eyes, there’ll be refreshing beverages to sip on as you gaze at this wild scene.

Track wildlife on a guided walking safari

As Zambia’s largest park, Kafue may seem more suited to all-day game drives, but walking safaris are one of its hidden gems…Picture strolling across the flood plains in the early morning light without another soul around for miles, heaven! With your seasoned guide leading the way, put your walking boots to good use as you explore this exquisite wilderness, spying huge herds of red lechwe, cheetah speeding to catch their prey and learning to read the signs these creatures leave behind. Without the rumble of an engine or clues given over walkie-talkie, you’ll get back to the roots of a safari. The best time to see the most wildlife is, of course, the dry season (May to October) and September is especially good for avid birders.

Kafue National Park Safaris
Kafue National park safaris
Sundowner in the Kafue River at Ila Safari Lodge

Enjoy sundowners and wildlife on a boat cruise

Considering its size and sheer power, the Kafue River is remarkably serene, and a morning or afternoon boat cruise along its glassy surface is a real treat. Navigate your way through scaly crocodiles and yawning hippo, catch elephant coming down the grassy banks to drink or splash their way across, and watch kingfishers darting in and out of the shallows. For a touch more romance, set sail at sunset and watch as the waterscape begins to look like a vibrant oil painting – with a cold G&T in hand, of course

Search for nocturnal animals on a night game drive

Night drives in Kafue offer something wonderfully different to the day – a window into a different world, where a diverse range of species can be spotted. After sunset drinks in the bush, your guide will power up the spotlight and, in hushed tones, explain the crackles and calls breaking through the silence. From then on, it’s all eyes peeled for aardvark, porcupine, fluttering owl, smaller cats like genet and civet, and even the elusive leopard

Kafue National Park Safaris
Kafue national Park safaris

Explore Busanga Plains on a game drive

Safari drives in the watery Busanga Plains, raved about as one of Kafue’s game-viewing hotspots, are ideal for spotting nervous herds of puku and red lechwe, prowling lion and some of the highest concentrations of painted dog and cheetah in Zambia. And as your expert guide will surely tell you, keep your eyes peeled for birdlife you’ve never seen before! Whether you leave at first light or as dusk approaches, you’ll make a pitstop for warming (or cooling) drinks in a scenic spot. Bear in mind that the plains are only accessible from July to October, when the floodwaters recede and leave behind a carpet of luscious grasses that are perfect for game drives, but that makes it all the more special.