Where to stay in Kafue National Park, Zambia
I have been longing to visit Kafue for quite some time and, given it is the second largest national park in Africa and the size of Wales, it certainly deserves to be noticed. It is, however, often overlooked by some of its better-known neighbours, in particular, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa. I took the chance to visit three quite contrasting camps in Kafue to find out what each could offer. But first I must mention that what struck me was how amazingly wild this place is. I did not bump into another vehicle during my entire time there, which speaks volumes.
Ila Safari Lodge, in the centre of the park, sits right on the banks of the Kafue River. It is a luxurious lodge that prides itself on its sustainability. Linda and Jaques welcome children, offering family tents, a swimming pool and enthusiastic staff who are always willing to play with the younger guests. The river trips were something else – the eco pontoon boat glided silently through the water, meaning we could get even closer to the animals and still enjoy blissful peace and quiet.
Musekese Camp is a real gem, run by perhaps the most enthusiastic guides I have come across for quite some time: Phil Jeffrey and Tyrone Mckieth. Their guiding was second to none and they both have a great passion for this park, which shines through on game drives. Musekese is wonderfully rustic, and overlooks a lagoon filled with wildlife, which is this hideaway’s unique selling point. This is not one for young families but it’s a must for anyone looking for authenticity and atmosphere.
Lastly, Shumba in the Busanga Plains – another big draw to Kafue – is a very opulent and intimate place to stay, with just six huge, elevated tents sitting on a forested island, like a castle in the middle of the vast, open grasslands. Incredibly comfortable ‘rooms with views’ include a family suite, making it perfect for families, honeymooners and older couples alike. Boardwalks make travelling to and from the main areas safe and easy.
The Busanga Plains is a mini Serengeti (without the mass of vehicles), where you can find plenty of predators, including cheetah (hard to spot in other parts of Zambia) feasting on red lechwe, wildebeest and buffalo who are taking advantage of this enormous, lush landscape. Not only is Busanga teeming with game but it is also a birders’ paradise, with a good variety of habitats. Perhaps one of the highlights for me was the opportunity to hot-air balloon over the area, as you simply would not have the time to be able to cover even a tenth of these plains on the ground.
These are three very different but worthy options in Kafue National Park, an awe-inspiring wilderness that I would recommend to anyone.