KAFUE:
The Lodges

Find a home away from home in Zambia. We talked to lodge owners and managers about what makes the Kafue a magical place and how best to enjoy it.


KAINGU SAFARI LODGE

We camped at the idyllic Chief’s Camp at Kaingu Lodge and had the riverside views and peace of the place for ourselves. Cross the river into the park for game drives and enjoy sundowners on the water - there is nothing quite like it. With a number of activities on offer and a wonderful base to relax, Kaingu offers a superb bush experience.

Contact us for advice on a safari to Kaingu Lodge >

Kaingu Safari Lodge

Safari camp director, Gilmour Dickson, answered our Q&A:

What makes the Kafue so special?
The sheer variety of animals and birds, as well as the sheer variety of landscapes.

 What makes it special for you?
The wildness of it. The lack of people and the feeling of true wilderness.  

Tell us the story of how you ended up in the Kafue and at Kaingu. What drew you there? What has made your passion for it so enduring?
Here at Kaingu, we believe it is all about the guests. Far too many lodges, owners, and managers make it all about themselves. Here it is all about you the guest.

The sun is setting. Tea, G&T, or beer?
Mosi Lager. Every time.

What is the first place that comes to mind where you would love to drink it in the Kafue? Why there?
Mpamba Rock. 360-degree view of Kafue wilderness. Not a man-made object in sight; just hundreds of kilometres of pristine wilderness.



What, in your opinion, makes for the best kind of safari experience? How does the Kafue fit in with this?
The best kind of safari experience is one where it is just you, your guide, and no other vehicles. Sightings are found through anticipation and local knowledge and not through radios and Facebook Messenger. Fortunately, the experience where it is just you and your guide is a normal day at Kaingu!

What has been your most memorable experience in this part of Africa?
It probably would be being out on a boat showing a professional photographer around. Being July, it was cold and misty on the river and the sun was rising. I turned and said, "What would be perfect now would be a pair of African skimmers flying in the mist as the sun is rising". 30 seconds later it happened. It was breathtakingly beautiful. 

Your walking shoes must have stories to tell of your adventures in the Kafue over the years. If they could tell us one funny/quirky/memorable tale, what would it be?
Sadly, I can't tell the story in public as it involves 02:00am walking with mud, lions, hippos, and guests and a terribly wet dambo and bogged vehicles. It's really not for public consumption!

Tell us what you look forward to every morning when you wake up in the Kafue and a bit about the people, places, wildlife, and experiences that make it special.
Seeing guests faces as they boat up river for a game drive with the sun rising over the river.

What wildlife is the Kafue known for? Is there anything in particular people travel to see? What do you recommend guests to the area should be on the lookout for?
The Kafue is known for its diversity - both animals and birds.  Around Kaingu, on the river be on the lookout for Pel's fishing owls, the African Finfoot, and elephants in the river clambering over granite boulders - that one has to be seen to be believed!

What time of year is best for game-viewing? When is the rainy season? When is it unbearably hot? What is the average summer high and winter low temperatures?
The best game-viewing is August through to November. The Kafue is basically never really unbearably hot.

Is there one thing in the area visitors shouldn’t miss? What activities are on offer through Kaingu?
A boat trip through the massive granite boulders is quite unique. Kaingu offers game drives, boating, fishing, canoeing, walking, bespoke children's activities, island sleep outs, and spectacular out-of- camp dining.

What sort of people would most enjoy the area?
To really get the most from the Kafue (and particularly the area around Kaingu), you need to be prepared to try as many activities as possible. For too many people, being on safari is just game driving. Here, it is not. Here, we encourage adventure and experiencing the bush in as many different ways as possible.

Based on your experience, what items would you recommend visitors to the Kafue should pack? What items can’t you leave home without when heading on safari?
Visitors should pack "Birds South of the Sahara".  All the rest of the field guides stop at the Zambezi! The one item I could not leave home without? My camera.

Get safari inspiration by using your phone to search for your next destination.
Kaingu Safari Lodge

KAFUE RIVER LODGE

Kafue River Lodge is your gateway to the wild, offering an exceptional safari experience. Located on the banks of the Kafue River and with fly camping options in Busanga Plains, the game and activities on offer give guests an unforgettable African experience.

Contact us for advice on a safari to Kafue River Lodge >

Kafue River Lodge

Lodge manager, Idos Mulenga, answered our Q&A:

What makes the Kafue so special?
Kafue is special because 85% of Zambia's mammals are found in the Kafue.

 What makes it special for you?
It is special for me because I have worked in Kafue for 25 years now.  

Tell us the story of how you ended up in the Kafue and at Kafue River Lodge. What drew you there? What has made your passion for it so enduring?
I ended up in Kafue because of this South African called Ed Smyth. He got me into this career, trained me, taught me how to drive, and paid for my license. He sent me to South Africa and Zim at the beginning of every season to buy supplies and drive the truck back to Zambia. When he left, Wilderness Safaris took over and I worked for them for 11 years. Last year, I moved to Kafue River Lodge as the camp manager and will be concession manager next year according to their contract. My passion is enduring because I love my job. For one to enjoy, he should first be in love with what he does.

The sun is setting. Tea, G&T, or beer?
When the sun is setting, I choose nice spots for a G&T or beer for my guests.



What is the first place that comes to mind where you would love to drink it in the Kafue? Why there?
I have two spots good for drinks: hot springs and the Maritz Hill - very special for sunset drinks. There is a very good view of the Kafue River from this hill and your guests get to see these boiling hot springs.

What has been your most memorable experience in this area?
My memorable experience was when a male lion peed on me.

Tell us what you look forward to every morning when you wake up in the Kafue and a bit about the people, places, wildlife, and experiences that make it special.
I always look forward to an exciting morning in the Busanga Plains where you see lions on a daily basis, which makes it special even when you see them hunting and kill attempts. Sometimes my guests get to interact with the fishermen of the Busanga tribe, which is where the Busanga Plains derived its name.

What wildlife is the Kafue known for? Is there anything in particular people travel to see? What do you recommend guests to the area should be on the lookout for?
Kafue is known for its roan and sable antelope which are seen in large herds, Sable antelope, lions and cheetah make the Kafue so special for travellers.

What time of year is best for game-viewing? When is the rainy season? When is it unbearably hot? What is the average summer high and winter low temperatures?
October is our peak season. Our rain season starts in November.  September / October are our hottest months it can get up to 38/40 degrees and our cooler months up to 3 degrees.

Is there one thing in the area visitors shouldn’t miss? What activities are on offer through Kafue River Lodge?
We offer game drives, boat cruises, walking safaris, and riding (bicycle) safaris. We also offer mobile trips to the Busanga, which we are famous for.

Based on your experience, what items would you recommend visitors should pack? What items can’t you leave home without when heading on safari?
Malaria tablets, sun cream, sunglasses, hats, binoculars, and warm clothes if guests are travelling in winter.

Kafue River Lodge
Kaingu Safari Lodge

NANZHILA PLAINS SAFARI CAMP

Offering perfect bush seclusion, Nanzhila Plains can’t help but reset the pace of everyday life to the timing of Africa. With birds aplenty and game roaming naturally around this remote destination, it offers undisturbed tranquility in the wild African bush. From crackling fires and safari decor to breezy tents and the call of the fish eagle over dawn, Nanzhila is a spectacular base from which to enjoy an authentic African safari.

Contact us for advice on a safari to Nanzhila Plains >

Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp

Nanzhila Camp owner and manager, Steve Smith, answered our Q&A:

What makes the Kafue so special?
This is best described by Peter Moss in his excellent “A Visitor’s Guide to the Kafue National Park” - “The Kafue National Park is one of Africa’s best kept secrets. An unspoilt wilderness with an outstanding variety of wildlife, it embraces a rich blend of woodlands, grasslands and aquatic environments in an extravagant celebration of complexity of shapes, colours, adaptions and interrelationships."

 What makes it special for you?
Because of the park’s extraordinary diversity, it is possible to visit different camps within the park and have completely different experiences and wildlife sightings.  

Tell us the story of how you ended up in the Kafue and how Nanzhila came about. What drew you there? What has made your passion for it so enduring?
Having been born and raised in Zambia, in the 60s and 70s, we spent a lot of time exploring Zambia’s national parks, particularly Luangwa and Kafue, and I still recall (I must have been about 8 at the time) visiting Nanzhila when it was a government-run self-catering camp. We encountered a herd of more than 2500 buffalo and I recall having to wait half the morning for them to cross in front of us. Our next visit was in 2003, some 40 years later, when the opportunity arose to secure the lease. Although the park had gone through some dark times during the intervening years, the area’s stunning setting and undoubted potential won us over and, since 2003, the resurgence has been spectacular.

The sun is setting. Tea, G&T, or beer?
G&T for me.

What is the first place that comes to mind where you would love to drink it at Nanzhila/in the Kafue?
Anywhere with a panoramic view of the horizon and the setting sun - and good company - is fine by me.

Your walking shoes must have stories to tell of your adventures in the Kafue over the years. If they could tell us one funny/quirky/memorable tale, what would it be?
Most of my memorable adventures occurred in the early days of the development of the lodge. These include driving into a sinkhole one night on the cordon road and having to sleep on the road in the open that night, to discover in the morning that two lions has come within two metres of us before continuing on their way. On another occasion, vehicle problems required that my son Sean (12 at the time) and I had to walk 36kms back to camp. It took us 11 hours, arriving at midnight, and I can still feel the pain! Last year in June, we came across and rescued some campers that had been stuck in the plains (about 12kms from camp) for six nights. They’d heard lions calling on their first night and were not going anywhere.

What wildlife is the Kafue known for? Is there anything in particular people travel to see? What do you recommend guests to the area should be on the lookout for? 
The Kafue is renowned for its extraordinary diversity and is home to 160 species of mammals, including 21 species of antelope - more than any other park in Africa - and 500+ bird species, making it a priority destination for enthusiastic birders. Nanzhila is blessed with all the major carnivores, with regular sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, and wild dog. It is also ideal habitat for serval (we see these almost daily) and honey badger (regular nocturnal visitors to the camp) and, on the antelope front, our populations of sable and roan are healthy and regularly encountered, along with eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, kudu, wildebeest, Defassa waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, common duiker, impala, oribi, grysbok, and steenbok. The undoubted birding highlight is the black-cheeked lovebird, an endemic to the area and all but guaranteed sighting.

What time of year is best for game-viewing? When is the rainy season? When is it unbearably hot? What is the average summer high and winter low temperatures?
The Nanzhila area is blessed with good year-round water so there is little noticeable difference in sightings between May and November. Between December and April, wildlife moves to higher ground to avoid surface water in the plain and drainage lines, making viewing more of a challenge. Our rainy season falls over this period and the camp is closed. October and November are the hottest months, but the heat is never unbearable. Temperatures rarely exceed 35C. The coldest months are June and July when temperatures do, on occasion, go below 5C in the evenings and early mornings.

Is there one thing in the area visitors shouldn’t miss (e.g. day walk in the bush with a guide, night drive, activity, watching the sun rise from a particular vantage point, etc.)? What activities are on offer through Nanzhila?
Nanzhila offers bush walks in the vicinity of the camp and game drives in the early mornings and late afternoons when wildlife is most active. The late afternoon drive includes a sundowner break and we return to camp after dark with spotlight in hand. During this upcoming season, we shall be completing a hide on a particularly productive pool in the area in memory of Peter Moss, who sadly passed away last year, and from which we will be offering some exciting new activities.

What sort of people would most enjoy the area?
We’ve welcomed all from the safari novice through to the safari connoisseur, from the young to the young at heart.

Based on your experience, what items would you recommend visitors to the area should pack? What items can’t you leave home without when heading on safari?
Comfortable trousers/slacks and at least one long-sleeved shirt and wide-brimmed hat, in neutral colours, and some good walking shoes. A good camera, a charger and memory cards, and binoculars.

Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp
Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp
View basket