• Beautiful Busanga on the rise...

    Text and images by Alastair Kilpin

Beautiful Busanga on the rise… 

by Alastair Kilpin, 18th September 2011

Having skirted around the enormous Kafue National Park on a Zambian trip some years ago, the opportunity to finally explore the famed floodplains of Busanga was not to be missed. This is “dream-come-true safari” material and I’ll state up front that it should be on any safari-addict’s bucket list!

The Red Lechwe are the common antelope on the plains – perfectly suited to the watery landscape. The large herds of Lechwe and also Puku are a real feature of Busanga.

We flew in from Livingstone after a short stay in Victoria Falls, moving from the luxury of Toka Leya to the more rustic but no less comfortable Busanga Bush Camp. It’s quite a long flight, as Busanga is situated in the far north of the park. I am sure many of you will know what it’s like to take 3 or more hours to get from the airstrip to the camp… not because it’s that far away, but because the game viewing is just that exceptional!  Serval, Collared Pratincole, Roan, Sable, Leopard, Elephant, Caspian Plover, Wattled Crane and African Civet to name but a few of the animals we spotted simply en route to camp!! The wonderful camp team welcomed us and fed us well.  At night the calls of African Wood-owl, African Barred-owlet and lion serenaded us. Not every camp has quite the auditory impact we experienced here – an African orchestra.

The Busanga Bush Camp is superbly located on a small, treed island. This view from the hot air balloon tells the story about being remote and wild! The sister camp Shumba is a short 20 minute drive away.

We opted to experience the balloon safari on the first morning – a most pleasant way to start your first day here.  The ballooning team from Namib Sky expertly piloted us, as we drifted past the tree islands of palm and mahogany and over the game-filled plains.  This is a special experience that simply has to be done (fantastic news is that with any 3 night or longer stay, this balloon flight is included at no cost at all!). We spent the days birding in camp and looking for good photographic opportunities from elephants to lions and more. The variety of wildlife from big to small is what makes this such a fun photographic destination. As the plains dry out, the nature of the experience changes too.  I visited here in late October, just weeks before the camps all close for the rainy season. With much less water about the concentrations of antelope and waterbirds at the remaining water was superb.  More good news is that the camp has availability from the 26th of September until early October – so why not consider a last minute dash to safari heaven?!

There are few places left in Africa where the magnificent Roan Antelope can be found, let alone seen as easily as here in Busanga where relaxed herds graze the burnt floodplains. The equally impressive Sable can also be seen in the surrounding woodland.

A young Wattled Crane looks at its parents feeding. These endangered birds breed in the Busanga floodplains and represent one of the most significant populations remaining in Africa.

Not the sharpest shot above, as we found this young female leopard well after sunset. Though not common, there are enough leopards here that with some patience, a stay of 4-5 nights should yield a sighting or two.

Guide Isaac Kalio is one of the masters of Busanga. He forms part of a team that knows this part of the Kafue National Park very well and is always ready to share and explore.

Whilst birding and watching hippos, these two bulls clashed. This is typical of the drama and excitement that threatens to explode at any minute in this magic wilderness.

Sunrise and sunset on and safari is a special time. Here in Busanga the sun just seems a little redder than anywhere else!

The Rosy-throated Longclaw is one of the gems of the plains. In fact it’s my favourite bird. It’s colours belie its ability to disappear into the grass and frustrate birders looking for it!

Lions of Busanga are legendary.  This incredible male lion was dominating the Busanga plains. We’ve heard he has since been replaced – such is the dynamism of the prides in Kafue.

A big male lion emerges at dawn after roaring out on the plains.

A young male lion lays low as one of the pride males passes by.

Cheetah viewing is improving at Busanga. We found two males watching out for Steenbok and other antelope on the floodplain fringes.

Not wanting to give it all away, above is but a glimpse into the amazing beauty of Busanga. Wilderness Safaris is doing their part to remedy and re-establish Busanga (as like everywhere on the continent, parks come under human pressure). Their efforts are being rewarded as the Busanga experience is fantastic. There are surprises every day in this park for patient and dedicated safari-goers, in what must rate as one of the most alluring safaris remaining in Africa. And this is just a short piece about one corner of this more than 8,500 square mile wilderness.

How to arrange this Busanga safari of a lifetime…
Contact us now to sure up some of the very limited space in the Busanga wilderness.  Book your adventure and an amazing safari as soon as possible.  Please contact a member of our sales team by sending an email to info@mammothsafaris.com and visit www.mammothsafaris.com for more destinations and journey ideas.