Zambia :: Kafue
Category: Protected Areas :: Protected Area
Established in 1924, Kafue National Park is Zambia’s oldest and largest park. Ever since the Spinal Road, connecting the southern and northern sectors, was reopened it’s been increasingly popular with self-drive travellers. Kafue offers diverse experiences. You can choose between a northern, central or southern trip, or combine the lot if you’ve got the time for an extended visit. And don’t forget, no visit here is complete without a boat cruise on the Kafue river.
Several rivers flow through the park, creating different vegetation types to form a patchwork of swamps, floodplains and woodlands, with stretches of forests and river thickets.
The Kafue River enters the park in the northeast and is soon bolstered by one of its major tributaries, the Lunga River. From the northwest the Lufupa River drains the Busanga Swamp - a permanent feature in the northern section of the park, one surrounded by floodplains. This large but shallow expanse of water is dotted with small islands covered in trees, grass and termitaria, providing shelter and grazing for wildlife. Enormous sycamore figs thrive in the wet environment, attracting fruit-loving birds and wildlife.
The Kafue River forms a large horse-shoe bend which was named The Hook by early prospectors. It’s here that the tarred M9 highway, which stretches between Mongu in the west and Lusaka in the east, enters the national park and crosses the river by means of The Hook Bridge. The Kafue River continues in a southerly direction after this and enters the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam; it exits the dam in an easterly direction to cross the Kafue Flats before joining the Zambezi River near Chirundu.
Between The Hook Bridge and the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam, both the Kafue River and dam’s shores form the park’s eastern boundary. Kalahari sand is typical of this central section of the park, and combined with a lower rainfall than the north, the vegetation is typical of the Kalahari, dominated by the silver cluster leaf trees (Terminalia sericia) and bushwillows (Combretum species), with the occasional patch of teak forest. A case in point is the beautiful Ngoma Forest just south of Itezhi -Thezi Dam, on the river. The mopane trees grow particularly tall in this section of the park.
The southern section is dominated by the Nanzhila Floodplains which are fed by the Nanzhila River before it narrows and drains into the Kafue River east of the Itezhi -Thezi dam. With fewer rivers, the floodplains consist of small islands of jackalberry and baobab trees surrounded by vast expanses of grasslands which become submerged during the rainy season.
|Address :||Kafue, Zambia|
|Host Website :||Click Here|
|Cellphone Reception :||Intermittent|
|Best Time to Visit :||April to November|
|Subject to Seasonal Operation. :||Busanga Plains in the north of the park, is out of bounds during the wet season whereas other areas have all weather roads giving access all year round. What is important though is that most of the lodges would close from Jan to March. But you can access all weather roads. The smaller game driving roads will most probably become inaccessible.|
|Updated for :||2021|
|Comments :||Park fees only payable in cash. (Rate info updated Mar-2021)|
|Payment Methods Accepted :||Cash|
|Fee/s :||Park Entry Fees 2019: Citizens: ZMK33.60 pp per day; Residents/SADC Nationals: USD15 pp per day; International: USD20. Vehicles under 3 tonnes: Local: K25.50 per vehicle; International: USD15 per vehicle.|
|Facilities :||Lodging, Camping, Airstrip|
|Game Viewing, Game Drives, Tours and Excursions, Hiking Trails, Fishing, Swimming, Boat Trips, Bird Watching, Scenic Flights|
|Game to View :||Huge variety of antelope. High population of wild dog. Puku. Elephant. Hyena. Hippo. Crocodile. Zebra. Blue Wildebeest. Buffalo. Serval. Cheetah. Lions. Leopards. (ie. No Rhino & Giraffe). 500 listed species of birds.|
|More Activities :||Private Safaris.|
|Notes on Activities :||(Some activities may be offered nearby).|
Kafue is easily reachable from Kalomo. (2018).
Hook Bridge gate is operational. Roads north of the gate is in good condition due to Wilderness-Safaris grading roads for the trucks taking in their supplies. You can expect bad road conditions during the rainy season. (2019).
An alternative plan for travel to Kafue from the south is to travel to Itezhi-Tezhi via Choma and Namwala (all tar). From Namwala a shortish road goes to the pontoon over the Kafue. Dirt road into Itezhi-Tezhi. (2018).
The spinal road was reported to be very well maintained and very easy to drive on. The road is so good that many people unfortunately speed. The dirt roads are very easy to drive on, at least in the dry season when we visited. (2019).
Campsites in the park are basic but very nice. They are all amongst trees with good shade. There is water for a cold shower and there are toilets, but you need to bring your own drinking water and be self sufficient in any other way. (2019).
The rainy season here is from December to March. (Feb-19)
During the dry season (April to November) the animals flock to the river to drink which means that your chances of spotting animals are bigger. This is the best time to visit the park. (Feb-19).
Tow-ins: +27(0)97 473 7848 / +260(0)96 676 1647 (Based in Lusaka). (2019).
Visitors to Zambia are advised to have their own personal travel insurance. Local police, hospitals, clinics etc. cannot be relied upon.
Please note that any emergency numbers indicated on our data will be for the local police, hospital, clinic etc. and most of the times, don't work. Many tourism sites show the numbers like 999 for police, they often don’t work.
If you have a medical problem when in Zambia, Specialty Emergency Services has a Call Centre (24 hours). Phone them on 737. This company has offices in Livingstone, Lusaka and Kitwe. But they will fly anywhere to assist if visitors have the right insurance. If you want to check your insurance, contact SES on [email protected] (http://ses-zambia.com/).
There is no fuel in the park so you have to fill up in the surrounding towns as you approach the park. Approaching from Lusaka the last fuel stop will be at Mumbwa town just off the M9. There is also a fuel stop at Itezhi-Tezhi town. (Oct-14).
The best game is around the Mayukuyuku area. (2018).
The GMA area just south east of Hook Bridge has everything with regards to game. Ila Safari Lodge offers walks in this area that focuses on plants and small animals. (2018).
The southern parts of the park of void of alot of game, but the Spine route drive is recommended. (2018).
The area around Mapunga camp, more north in the park, had very little game in 2017, and the tsetse flies are particularly bad around there. (2017).
Travellers reported poor animal sightings entering at the south at Dundumwezi Gate and stayed at the lodges of Nanzhila Plains, Kasabushi, Mayukuyuku and Nanzhila Plains again. Low sightings could be attributed to poaching, and a practise of burning the entire reserve each year. The tsetse flies and smaller flies were a pest and at some places one hundred flies would rush into the vehicle when opening a window. Many of the lodges only do very late afternoon drives which convert into night drives to avoid the flies. The flies stay away from water, so some lodges do boat trips on water. (2018).
It is now again possible to pay Zambian National Park fees (payable to ZAWA = Zambian Wildlife Authorities) in USD. (Aug-14).
The DNPW have replaced ZAWA. (2019).
Are only payable in cash. (2019).
Many of the roads in Kafue are inaccessible during the rainy season from December to March. Even if you enjoy the challenge of driving your 4×4 in black cotton soil, you have to be extremely careful where you venture. During this time all the camps on the Busanga Plains in the north of the park as well as a few of the camps in the south close down.
On the Busanga Plains you have to be careful of black cotton soil. You definitely need a 4WD to explore Kafue. (Oct-14).
After the upgrade the Spinal Road is an excellent all-weather road and there are many game drive loops leading from the Spinal Road.
The Boundary Road south of Itezhi-Tezhi is a good road but it is overgrown in places and has many patches of deep sand which means that you have to make provision for extra fuel. (2014).
None of the lodges in the park are fenced which means they regularly have the wild animals passing through the grounds. (Oct-14).
If travelling via the Sitoti Ferry, to the Kafue National Park, take into consideration that you might be held up at the Sitoti Ferry in Kolongola, as the operator operates the ferry at his own time, making it difficult to plan.
They are building a bridge over the Zambezi river near the Sitoti ferry. If it is not finished you have to make sure the ferry is running. Reportedly the ferry also operates depending on the water level.
This ferry also only starts operating from about the 3rd week in June, once the flood plains have dried up. (2013).
The Kafue National Park still offers an amazing fly-in experience as all the lodges are keen on transferring their guests from the airport. Charter flights from Lusaka to Kafue are also available. (Oct-14).
Kafue is malaria area therefore you must take prophylactics. The tsetse flies are unpleasant but other than spraying insect repellent in and around your vehicle when you stop there isn't much you can do about them. (Oct-14).
There are many tsetse flies in the park! This park is still "wild" with fewer tour operators operating in it. (2019).
“Kafue National Park offers a true and wonderful wilderness experience. For me the only downside is the tsetse flies. ” - Karin Theron, 2014/09/09