Getting there and around
To get to Kafue, and to get around once there, you have three choices. Firstly, you can fly in and stay at one of the better camps or lodges – and the team from the camp will walk, drive and boat you around their area of the park. Secondly, you can drive yourself into and around the park. Thirdly, you can arrange for a company from outside to drive you in here, and drive you around.
By air or scheduled transfer
This is certainly the most relaxing way to get here, especially if your time is relatively limited, or you like the idea of a holiday here rather than an expedition. However, it limits your choice of lodge to one, or perhaps two, of the better ones. Lunga and possibly Kaingu spring to mind. There are various airstrips dotted around the park and some are in good repair. There are no scheduled flights into the park, but Lunga River Lodge does run an extensive programme of charter flights between the lodge, Lusaka and Livingstone – and several charter companies in Lusaka will fly you out on request.
Although not by air, the regular road transfers which connect Lusaka with Lufupa Lodge (and hence Shumba) run to a reliable schedule, and so I'd think of them in this bracket also – albeit that the driving takes 4–5 hours instead of 40 minutes!
If you want to drive here, then think of it as an expedition. You will need two good 4WD vehicles and all your provisions as camping is usually possible, but proper facilities or places to re-supply are few and far between. If you have problems, you must be able to solve them yourself, as you can expect little help. Although there are many camps listed in the sections below, only a handful would be capable to offering any help in an emergency.
However, if you come well equipped then the park is wonderful. Many of the camps will be happy to help you with advice on the area and, if they have them to spare, will usually sell you a bed and a cold beer. If you do come, then you can be assured of seeing very few other vehicles during your stay in this stunning area.
Note that camping in the north of the park is quite regulated – making the south a better bet for self-driving in many ways; camping is certainly more relaxed in the south.
Arrive with the best maps of the place you can find, and use them in conjunction with those in this book. Do bring a GPS; you will need one. Remember that many of the tracks in Southern Kafue have started to grow over with lack of use, so rediscovering them is all part of the adventure.
Mobile operators in Kafue
A couple of safari operators run trips into Kafue without having a permanent base there. Some do this with permission from the National Parks Board, others without. Some work well, though without a long-term presence in the park, they clearly don't know the ground as well as the established camps. Further, if they encounter serious difficulties, they seldom have the logistical support to solve their own problems. (There are tales of one inexperienced company that recently came up into the Busanga Plains too early, and ended up with its vehicle stuck in mud for two days.)
Perhaps more importantly, most of the established camps work hard to maintain the park's roads and minimise poaching. Few, if any, of the mobile operators contribute to this vital work.
As Kafue starts to receive a few more visitors, the Busanga Plains (especially) is becoming better known and the focus for more attention from many small mobile operators. If you want to get the very best from it, and also to support operators who work to preserve the area, then I recommend that you support the area's permanent operators.
An apparent exception to this rule is perhaps Doug Evans' operation, Chundukwa Adventure Trails, from Livingstone. Doug ran a couple of camps on the Nanzhila Plains for many years and, although these have now closed, he still probably knows that area better than anyone else.