Game Warden

Let's talk Kafue National Park. (Zambia)

40 posts in this topic

So who has been, where did you stay, how was the accomodation and tourist infrastructure? What sightings did you have? What are your recommendations for Kafue National Park? Feel free to post anything which you think will be of interest to those visiting below, including photos.

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I have been to Kafue only once, in September 2002, before Wilderness Safaris basically took over the Busanga Plains (with the exception of Mukambi Plains Camp, which at that time was not operational).

 

I spent 2 nights at Lunga River Lodge and 5 nights at busanga Bushcamp ( in 2002, BBC and Sgumba were the only camps in the Busanga Plains).

 

My main memories of Kafue are:

 

- Tsetses (particularly during the drive from Lunga to Busanga) - I had not been to southern Katavi yet!

 

- Roan Antelope galore

 

- Wattled and Crowned Cranes in Busanga

 

- Serval

 

There is a fellow Safaritalker and friend passionate about Kafue - safaridude, who is much more knowledgeable than me and to whom I would leave the task to "talk Kafue".

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I have visited Kafue National Park in Aug '08 and Sept '09. It is the probably the most representative miombo park in Africa.

 

I have stayed at Nanzhila Plains Camp, Lufupa Tented Camp, Busanga Bush Camp, and Shumba Camp. There are many fine independent camps and lodges strewn throughout Kafue.

 

The history of the park is interesting in that it was "the" park in Zambia before Luangwa got its fame. In fact, Norman Carr was the warden of Kafue before he went on to Luangwa. The park was decimated due to unchecked poaching, but it has been rehabilitating since the year 2000 or so, and it is going from strength to strength.

 

There are really three parts to Kafue in my opinion. Busanga plains in the north, Nanzhila plains in the south, and the huge central area (mostly miombo woodland) where camps and lodges are clustered around the Kafue and Lufupa rivers. The central part of the park is classic miombo with interesting boating activity option. Busanga plains during the dry season does not have to take a back seat to any safari destination in Africa. Nanzhila plains, which was hammered by poaching, is an interesting area in that it is in a transition zone between miombo and mopane/acacia/mixed woodland found in northern Botswana. As such, it has great potential.

 

Lions are found throughout, and they are hard to miss on the Busanga. Elephant density is low due to poaching in the past, but you will see them. Lots of leopards in the central area. I have seen wild dogs and cheetahs in Nanzhila. Busanga has an unusually large population of roan. Nanzhila is excellent for sable as well as roan. Lichtenstein's hartebeests are found throughout. Pukus are everywhere except the south, where impalas replace them. Wildebeests and zebras in Busanga and Nanzhila. Lots of red lechwes in Busanga.

 

I would say if I had to pick the best birding destination in Africa, it would be Kafue. You get most of the common species, then you get the wetland birds and the miombo specialties.

 

Tsetse flies are a deterrent to those who can't handle them.

 

My September '09 trip report can be found here: http://safaritalk.net/index.php?showtopic=4250

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Tsetse flies are a deterrent to those who can't handle them.

 

 

how do you handle them then? B)

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I wear long pants and a "bugshirt" top. www.bugshirt.com

 

I, like some, don't find their bites all that irritating.

 

Tsetses are attracted to vehicle movement, so they will follow the vehicle. When you get out on walks, they are not bad at all. Kafue is a great park for walks.

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A bit of historical context:

 

In April 1950, the Governor proclaimed the Kafue National Park being set aside within what was Native Trust Land. The Order in Council defining Trust Land stated, ‘land set apart for the sole use and benefit, direct or indirect, of the natives of Northern Rhodesia…’ and further: ‘out of the profits or rents accruing from any area of native trust land set aside as a forest or Game Reserve… there shall… be paid first the expenditure necessarily incurred by the Government in connection with the said area, whether by maintenance, development or otherwise, and the balance shall be paid into the (Native Trust Land) Fund, or into the treasury of the native authority concerned, as the Governor shall direct’. A consultant, Darling, commented that being Native Trust Land first and a National Park second conflicted with the concept of National Parks as outlined by the 1933 International Convention. Darling recommended that an amendment be tabled of the Order of Council, altering the boundaries of Native Trust Land, or by invoking Section 5(1) (d) of the Order in Council which empowers the Governor to ‘acquire native trust land for public purposes’
In 1958, Norman Carr was appointed Warden of the Kafue Game Reserve – until then run by Len Vaughan, former owner of the ranch which is now Lochinvar National Park, and was allowed to take two Rangers with him to develop the area for tourism. He was given a year to do it or see much of it lose its status. Norman chose Barry and Johnny Uys to assist him. In less than a year they constructed 900 km of road, built Ngoma Lodge and two safari camps.

With thanks to Safaritalk member Ian Manning for providing these snippets - the second quote is taken from the article, "John Barry Shenton. 30 April 1929, Eshowe, Zululand - 21 March, 2007, Mkushi" which Ian published on zambiaconservation.blogspot.com here, following Barry Shenton's death.

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I was told by a guide yesterday who saw a giraffe in southern Kafue about 15 years ago. A rare sighting I think. Even rarer was that the giraffe killed a lion and got it's hoof stuck in the lion's head for a bit.

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Egilio,

 

That would be more than a "rare sighting"... I believe there was one giraffe sighting a long time ago in a GMA east of northern Kafue as well. As you know there are no giraffes for miles around. Interesting.

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Egilio, if you had not previously established yourself as a reliable source, I'd think you were pulling our collective legs.

 

 

After 3 hours of a fast paced drive from Lunga River Lodge through burning forests and short walls of flames we neared Busanga Plains Bushcamp at last. I could see the camp vehicle driven by the manager about 200 meters away. My transport vehicle stopped in front of a mekoro and I was told to board the mekoro for a ride to the vehicle.

 

I was not in the mood for what I thought was a Disney-like touch for the final leg of what had been a somewhat grueling 3-hour road journey, which had been preceded by at least two flights. "Just let me walk to the vehicle or have it come pick me up and dispense with this silly little boat ride," I thought to myself. But since the polers were so cheerful and good natured I thought I'd go along with this game.

 

As it turned out I am so glad I kept those thoughts of protest to myself. Even for that short distance, a mekoro was necessary due to the water saturation of the soil and vegetation. It was not a cute stunt by any means.

 

Later in my stay I mentioned my original take on the mekoro to the manager and he comforted me that several other guests had arrived at that same initially incorrect conclusion.

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....Kafue was for us the best piece of Africa we have been to so far...( reminded us very much of Ruaha)

As safaridude has already stated its a very attractive park.

At the moment you don't get many other people around and the ones that are there, be they local or tourist, all seem happy, helpful and very accommodating.

The dreaded Tsetes...well, dettol/ water mix spray did us just fine... we also tried dried ellie poo smouldering in the ashtray of the 4x4, it did work. We sat for ages at a dambo in Nanzhilla...(it did remind us of a students bedroom, if you know what I mean )

In one camp, called KaingU in the south of the park, you stop at a small control post before entering approx 1km out, then spray your vehicle, wait five minutes and the flies are gone, they where right... no flies in camp...KaingU is a small camp, beautiful river setting, a must 101 place to see before you kick that bucket.

Mukambi Camp is also worth a visit, so close to Lusaka with all standards of accommodation. You could just pop in for lunch to see Basil if you really wanted to and the river boat trip here was very good, as was there campsite.

I could go on; sorry...Our trip report is here somewhere, well its a short novel really...

Kafue is well worth the time and money. Fly BA, London to Lusaka - cheap as chips!

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Just tided the above post up a bit. Instead of including images as attachments, feel free to follow to the instructions in my signature. Matt.

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I was told by a guide yesterday who saw a giraffe in southern Kafue about 15 years ago. A rare sighting I think. Even rarer was that the giraffe killed a lion and got it's hoof stuck in the lion's head for a bit.

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Hi Egilio

 

Can you provide the contact details of the person you spoke to? There was another similar report in October 1974 and it would indeed be very interesting to learn whether the sightings are from the same area...?

 

Thanks

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I believe there was one giraffe sighting a long time ago in a GMA east of northern Kafue as well. As you know there are no giraffes for miles around. Interesting.

Why are there no giraffe in Kafue (except those mentioned)? I want giraffes there! Any plans of introduction (reintroduction)?

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Why are there no giraffe in Kafue (except those mentioned)? I want giraffes there! Any plans of introduction (reintroduction)?

 

I think we discussed a while ago in a specific thread about th intricacies of girafe distribution. However, in a nutshell, giraffe do not occu in most of miombo woodlands, which meand that - amongst the typica safari countries - they are not found in the vast majority of Zambia (the exceptions being parts of the Luangwa Valley, which is low lying and provides a decent habitat, and probaly Sioma Ngewzi in the extrem south), central ad northern Zimbabwe, all of Malawi, all of Mozambique north of the Save river (for instance, local people in central Mozambique do not even have a name for girafe), and Tanzania south of the Rufiji river.

 

Also geomorphological factors played a part in determining the distribution of giraffes (which might contribute to explain why you do not hae giraffes in Matusadona, Mana Pools, Lower Zambexi N.P. - or even the Ngorongoro caldera, for that matter).

 

As far as I know, there is no plan to introduce girafe in those areas - giraffe are not an endagered species and it would be quite a monstruosity to introduce them in places which are outside of their historical range.

 

I am afraid that, if you ae ater giraffe, Zambia is not the ideal destination (with the exception of those Thornicrofts in South Luangwa).

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From my understanding Giraffe not occur in the Kafue primarily because of the Zambezi River. If you look at their distribution and a map, it is quite easy to see that there is no population of the Angolan sub species east or north of the Zambezi, where as west and south of the Zambezi they do occur (Sioma Ngwezi, etc.) with the exception of the Luangwa which as a Valley (and a very long way from the upper Zambezi in western Zambia!) has a whole host of unique species and I guess the Thornicroft's came down the Valley historically from further up the rift? Anyway, these isolated reports of Giraffe towards the south of the Kafue (i.e. north of the Zambezi) may well have been individuals from very likely Sioma and the Caprivi, which in years of low water crossed the Zambezi (worth looking at the rainfall in these years) and ventured north, this is plausable, especially in the 70's when there were far fewer people around to hinder free movement. It is very likely if a Giraffe made it across the Zambezi today it would not get very far... A lot of people base the lack of Giraffe on a lack of suitable browse, I do not agree with this as the Kafue has a very diverse ecosystem (hence its large diversity of animal and bird species) and patches of suitable browse can be found throughout the park. I spoke to gentleman who has a game farm north of the Kafue, in fact north of the Copperbelt, towards the Congo, not very 'Giraffy' habitat, but he has Giraffe on his plot and they are thriving, primarily eating Syziguym spp.(as this is by far the most dominant tree spp. he has). I have often posed the question to local villagers and elders in areas around the Kafue and none seem to have ever heard of a Giraffe in the Kafue, nor are there any traditional stories or fables which depict anything like a Giraffe, as such a "re-"introduction would seem a bit pointless if they never existed in the first place.

But! Without a proper investigation and a bit of research everything is guesswork I suppose...

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Very interesting. Similarly, it could be possible that the Rufiji river proved a similar obstacle to Distribution of Giraffe in southern Tanzania (plenty of Giraffe in the Selous north of the Rufiji, none south of the river).

 

However, assuming the Zambezi being such a barrier is the main obstacle to distribution of Giraffe, I wonder why there are no Giraffe in the middle Zambezi Valley south of the river (e.g. Mana Pools). Maybe the Zambezi Escarpment proved too difficult to negotiate?

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I think that giraffe is such a beautiful and spectacular animal, that I do not want to miss it on safari. I am not really advocating for a reintroduction ...

 

There are giraffe in Masvingo Game Reserve (Zimbabwe), in the middle of miombo-land. I do not know if they were introduced like the white rhinos, which probably will be gone in connection with the unstability of the country - maybe the giraffes have disappeared too. Anybody know?

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Sorry, I hijacked the thread.

 

Still interested in Kafue - even in the absence of giraffe - but Busanga Plains is out of reach for my budget. Any suggestions for camps in the range $200 - 300 pppn? Nanzihila seems to be a good one with $350 but it is a stretch ...

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Nice maps by the Zambia Tourism Office of KNP and lodge/camp locations within KNP. Assuming it's okay to post these links?

 

http://www.zambiatourism.com/travel/maps/kafuenpark.htm

 

http://www.zambiatourism.com/travel/maps/kafue-locations-map.htm

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Hi all, picking up on Kafue threads as a new member- please do fire away with questions if you are interested in the Park. Having been there for the past decade and worked in many different facets of the Park, I hope I am well placed to answer any questions; I also had the opportunity to map the entire Park whilst working with the Zambia Wildlife Authority in compiling their most recent management plan. It is my home, it is my passion, and I am sure there are many many questions out there!

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Posted (edited)

Hi Phil,

 

It would be interesting to know the main guidelines of the new management plan, in particular in relation to different zoning (if any) of the various areas of Kafue, also from a tourist development perspective.

 

Has something been provided to encourage that Kafue conserves its wilderness feeling - one of its main assets - and that its character is not jeopardized by excessive infrastructural and tourism development?

 

Many thanks

Edited by Paolo

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Great question Paolo.

 

Mobile in Kafue. Any past experiences or plans for the future?

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G'day Phil. Fill us in on your CV. Where in Kafue have you worked as a safari guide?

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Hi there, thanks for the excellent questions. Paolo, in answering your question; the revised GMP provides focus on the main management issues that have arisen over the past ten years, and covers:

 

- decentralisation of Park management (from Lusaka to KNP)

- implementation of KNP Business Plan of 2008 (successes and failures)

- Development of KNP business centre

- economic future of the Park

- greater community participation in natural resource management

- public-private partnerships and joint management concessions

- increased tourism

- the Park's links with the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA

 

Within these broad issues, the management plan addresses some of the more specific matters including, as you have pointed out, the need for different zoning of the Park. This was provided for in the 1999 management plan, but revised and updated according to the (then 2009/2010) current imperatives of protected area management, biodiversity conservation and tourism with additions for public access, exclusive use, and buffer zones (applying to game management areas). The rationale for zoning of the KNP is based upon the need to make conservation and utilization compatible by undertaking effective management of the Park's resources and providing a wide range of visitor use and experience.

 

These are the zones that have been implemented:

 

-special conservation zone

-wilderness zone

-wild zone

-intensive use zone

-public access zone

-exclusive access zone

-buffer zone

 

Within the management plan there are detailed descriptions of limits of acceptable use etc. providing for the preservation of the wilderness feeling that you describe Paolo, which is very special indeed in the KNP. I hope that goes someway to answering your question, please let me know if you would like any further information.

 

Best wishes

 

Phil

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