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Captivated by Kafue

This extraordinary national park’s raw and diverse landscapes make it geographically enthralling. Morgan Trimble examines its natural history, ecology and wildlife, as well as revealing plenty of useful tips from the experts to help you plan your next trip to Zambia
Red lechwe navigate the flooded grasslands of the Busanga Plains

Just outside the camp, we’re tracking a leopard through sandy soil in Kafue. The previous night, the cat’s sawing roar pierced the stillness along the river, briefly quieting the hippos’ grunts and fiery-necked nightjars’ trill.

We had woken before sunrise to search for the elusive creature. But after following its spoor for 100m along the road, the paw prints veer into the grassy undergrowth, and we give up. The leopard is hiding amid, literally, millions of trees.

This is the miombo — an immense swath of woodlands that blanket southern-central Africa from Angola in the west to Tanzania and Mozambique in the east. In the middle, in southern Zambia, is Kafue National Park. It’s one of the continent’s oldest and largest parks but remains one of the wildest.

Scientists rate Africa’s miombo high on the shortlist of Earth’s remaining large, biodiverse wilderness areas. Thanks to its high species richness and endemism and sparse human population, it ranks up there with the rainforests of the Congo Basin, New Guinea and Amazonia.

Across Kafue’s 22,400sq km, an area about as big as Wales or New Jersey, an astonishing variety of species lives among the various habitats. I’ve returned here several times, and whether sleeping under canvas in the southern plains, the central woodlands or the far northern swamps, the quiet, the vastness and the sheer adventure of it all makes my wilderness-loving heart sing. The feeling of remoteness here is unmatched.

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About Travel Africa

Life as a chimp - everything you need to know about this great ape • Kafue National Park's natural attraction • Driving around Zimbabwe • The Waterberg and Madikwe, South Africa • Tarangire on foot • Stunning leopard portfolio • Learning to guide in the Mara • Taking tea in Malawi • The Himba today... and much more!
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