Kafue is Zambia’s oldest park and by far the largest. It was established in 1924 and is spread over 22 400 square kilometres. To put that in perspective, it is the third largest park in Africa and covers an area equivalent to Wales and twice that of Yellowstone National Park in USA. It spills into three of Zambia’s provinces and within its borders hosts a fantastic variety of wildlife and diverse array of eco-systems on an undulating plateau veined by rivers.
Most of the park lies in the central Zambezian Miombo woodlands ecoregion characterised by savanna grasslands with Miombo tree species, growing thickly in some patches, with a few small dambos (grasslands which become marshy in the rainy season) interspersed among them. In the south there are stony hills and rocky outcrops where the more sparse Zambezian and Mopane woodlands ecoregion takes over. A thin belt of evergreen forest lines the banks of the Kafue River, which has been controversially dammed just outside the park at Itezhi-Tezhi Dam, forming a reservoir in the park.
A dominant feature in the north of the park is the Busanga Plains - a vast floodplain fed by the Lufupa River system. These support large herds of herbivores and their predators. In the dry season the animals keep close to the swamps and marshy creeks and are easily seen. Much of the accommodation is situated in the north near the floodplains, where excellent animal sightings are guaranteed. Game viewing in the south is more difficult than the north due to thick woodlands and scattered animal populations.
The birding is exceptional, especially on the rivers and the dambos, with over 400 species, notably goliath herons, fish eagles, wattled crane, purple crested lourie and Pel's fishing owl. Fishing is also excellent and most lodges have tackle and rods to catch bream, barbel and fresh water pike.