Every write-up on the Kafue National Park will confirm that it’s the largest park in Zambia and the second largest in Africa. Its history since 1924 is well documented including the opening of the park to tourists in 1956. What isn’t so well known is the story behind the central Kafue, its rise to fame in the 1950s and de-generation in the 1980-90s.
Its lack of good access for many years resulted in the central area remaining under-utilised, under-developed and therefore unappreciated by the visiting populous. The original Spinal Road was the only route between the northern and southern sectors within the park. For many years this road was inaccessible and consequently visitors had little access to the central sector.
Part of Lib and Andy’s decision to set up camp in this area was based on the intended resurrection of the Spinal Road. They always believed that the development of the Spinal Road would be key to their plans to introduce the perfect location for visitors wanting to enjoy the real Africa. Their aim was to open up the Kafue National Park to visitors wanting to experience an area of pristine bush that has eluded many visitors to Zambia for more than three decades.
In 2012 the Spinal Road was upgraded and now connects the M9 Lusaka-Mongu tar road to Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, connecting the northern and southern sectors of the Kafue National Park. It’s an all-weather road with seasonal river crossings but the road is driveable all year round, wet and dry season.
The Central Kafue has a contrasting landscape of miombo and savannah woodlands, riverine bush, flat open plains and statuesque granite outcrops. Visitors love the variation in scenery and its natural, unspoilt beauty. More and more discerning visitors are driving the Spinal Road and discovering the central KNP for themselves. It’s the best road in the park and very enjoyable drive with so much change in vegetation and scenery. Although it is getting more popular, visitors really appreciate the lack of other vehicles, people and the fact that they have the bush pretty much to themselves.
The wildlife is improving in the area and the road and game loops reward with regular sightings. The wildlife is becoming habituated with the presence of the camp and Puku, Impala and Bushbuck are now regular visitors.
So this is, in a nutshell, why the central sector of the Kafue National Park captured Andy and Lib’s interest and why they have chosen the location to build their bush camp. It is an unknown area that very definitely needs to be brought to the attention of the discerning traveller and the passionate conservationist alike. Because of its unadulterated rawness the bird life in this area is prolific and the slowly increasing wildlife is still unhabituated with humans. It is a wild, untamed area and should remain so, but it does need to be looked after and managed. What better way of appreciating it than for it to be experienced as it is and as it should be.