Kafue National Park in western Zambia has thrust itself into the tourism spotlight in recent months with several new environmentally focused developments.
The park is located in the world’s largest transfrontier conservation area, the Kavango Zambezi, which straddles five countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is among the most important natural heritage sites in the world and is home to elephants, large predators, 21 species of antelope and 515 species of birds. Kafue is said to hold the potential to become one of Africa’s most exceptional tourist destinations.
• Related: Lion tracking in Zambia with Wilderness Safaris and Panthera
In July this year, the Zambian government signed a 20-year agreement with African Parks to ensure the protection and effective management of Kafue National Park, promising greater investment in all aspects of park management, biodiversity to socio-economic development.
Zambian Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Evans Muhanga commented on the deal, saying it was an exciting new chapter for Kafue National Park. Projects on the map include road upgrades to improve visitor access, development of community facilities and projects, and an improved communications network.
According to African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead, the partnership marks the beginning of the process of fully restoring Kafue as one of Africa’s largest conservation areas. “In addition to investing in Kafue’s outstanding landscape and the conservation of its biodiversity, it also enhances Kafue’s value to communities and its economic contribution to the country,” he said.
Eco-designed safari lodges
Many lodges in Kafue National Park have taken an eco-friendly approach to game drives. One of them is Green Safaris’ Ila Safari Lodge, which is entirely off-grid. Built in 2016, Ila was the first lodge to introduce electric play vehicles in Zambia. But the property has taken the concept of an electric safari vehicle to the next level by introducing “solar safaris” on the Kafue River with an electric boat.
From local eco-friendly building materials to solar-powered electricity, Ila is a truly eco-friendly safari experience. The lodge is powered by a huge solar bank providing the vast majority of energy. Hot water is produced by solar water heaters, and the main boma (common area) is made from locally sourced and sustainable materials, with the walls having been constructed using sandbag technology which requires only a small percentage of cement.
Wild spaces preserved
Further north in Kafue National Park are the Busanga Plains, one of Africa’s most untouched wilderness areas. The region, which is particularly known for its rich lion populations and abundant birdlife, is probably best suited for second or third time visitors to Africa who have previously visited the Kruger and/or Botswana.
The plains are positioned on an old lake bed and experience regular flooding during the rainy season from November to April, so the camps are mainly seasonal, open from June to October.
Green Safaris offers an electric mountain bike experience at its Chisa Busanga camp. Travelers can experience the wonders of Busanga leisurely and at a comfortable pace from the seat of an e-mountain bike, with a knowledgeable guide sharing their knowledge of the bush.
Chisa is the Nyanja word for “bird’s nest”, so the rooms were inspired by the weavers’ bird nests. The camp consists of four “nests”, which are built about 13 feet above the ground and shaded by terminalia trees.
For safari enthusiasts looking for a unique and authentic wilderness experience, Kafue National Park is definitely a destination worthy of consideration.