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I’ve heard it said that the Kafue is not for a first timer on safari?

We hear this often and yes, if you are after an instant hit, a quick fix of the Big 5 in one drive then it may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are a nature lover of any kind who enjoys wildlife and unspoiled wilderness areas then why wouldn’t you love it?! Yes, you will definitely see the ‘big stuff', but maybe not around every corner, and sometimes you have to work a bit harder to track it down, but with that comes the charm of the bush, the thrill of the chase, and where a skilled safari guide will add another dimension to your stay. Invariably, too, you will have the privilege of being able to enjoy your sightings in quiet solitude.​

Why are safaris so expensive?

Travel is expensive. Africa is expensive, and with national debts increasing year upon year governments turn to taxes and levies to soften the blow. Likewise operating in pristine wilderness areas comes with a price, and various fees are required to enjoy this privilege, such as property lease fees and licenses. There are also huge amounts of logistics involved in operating in remote locations with no access to shops and services; everything must be brought in on a very regular basis. 

Does the Kafue have all the main safari animals?

Absolutely. The exception is the giraffe, which have never been recorded with any certainty in the Kafue (nor are they present in the Zambezi Valley either). The Kafue was once home to the ‘Big 5’ but Black rhino were sadly poached to extinction across the whole country and the last one recorded in the late 1980’s in the Kafue. The Kafue has everything you might expect, plus more… the park is home to 21 species of antelope, more than any other park in the world! The variety of wildlife, birdlife and habitat types is one of the Kafue’s greatest assets.​

Isn’t it dangerous on safari?

Going on a safari is far safer than visiting a large city, such as London or New York, statistically. All safari guides are professionally trained with extensive accredited qualifications to host guests in wild areas, and so you are in very safe hands. Whilst of course wildlife by definition can be unpredictable the confines of camp are generally very safe so long as respect and caution is taken when moving around the camp. Accidents happen when instructions are not followed and every incident can be traced back to human error, animals are rarely the culprits. Safety is always our number one priority.

Do you provide bottled water?

We have several guests each season that insist on drinking only bottled water. At both of our camps we purposefully sunk boreholes to provide the cleanest, natural water; thus alleviating the need for bottled water. Many camps will try and filter river water (with varying degrees of success), however a borehole is a different thing altogether and provides the most delicious drinking water around. Bottled water comes from Lusaka and bottling plants are generally in the industrial areas of Lusaka where either council water or a borehole is treated with chlorine before being bottled. Plus, we are saving a huge amount of plastic waste by drinking our own water.

Do you squeeze all your guests on one vehicle if the camp is full?

The majority of our vehicles only have 6 seats anyway (most have 9) and so worst case 6 guests may be together at once, each with a ‘window’ seat. We pride ourselves on giving a very pure and high quality guided experience and so we are not in the business of putting people together for the sake of ease. With several guides on duty one is almost always able to do exactly which activity they like. At Musekese we have 2 guides, 2 vehicles (1 with roof, 1 without) and 2 boats always available.

What is the weather like during the peak season in October?

The Kafue National Park is approximately 1100m above sea level, part of the Central African Plateau. The result of this is a more temperate climate, whereas the Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Valleys range between 4-600m. As a result, the Kafue National park is on average some 4-5 degrees celsius cooler than other parks in Zambia, and whilst day time temperatures in the hotter months of September and October will be in the high 30’s the nights are very pleasant and cool down significantly for a comfortable evening and nights sleep.

I have heard the Tsetse flies in the Kafue are numerous and carry diseases?

Indeed in the Kafue National Park there are tsetse flies, just like there are in the South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools, Ruaha, the list goes on… There are areas in the park where tsetse are more prevalent than others however, and so to say in a blanket statement ‘The Kafue is terrible for tsetse flies’ is not true. Areas with a higher number of tsetse are either avoided on safari activities or in some instances controlled with tsetse fly traps and targets or the burning of elephant dung. There are many areas of the Kafue with very few tsetse, such as Musekese, and none at all, the Busanga Plains for example. Tsetse do not carry malaria, or dengue fever or any other disease with the exception of sleeping sickness, trypanosomiasis. Sleeping sickness however has not been recorded for decades in the Northern Kafue region and across Africa there are only a small number of cases annually.

Why is the Kafue less-known than other parks in Zambia?

It was not always that way. In the 1960’s and 70’s Zambian Airways had several scheduled flights per week into the Kafue National Park, bringing in hundreds of domestic and international guests. Unfortunately in the late 70’s/early 80’s the country suffered various monetary setbacks and trade deficits that together with conflict in the region put increased pressure on natural resources; because of its position and size Kafue was hit hard and was avoided for many years, sliding off the radar. A handful of dogged operators kept the park alive and over the past 20 years Kafue has gone from strength to strength under the guidance of Zambia’s Department of National Parks & Wildlife; increasing numbers of wildlife and quality camps and operators should put Kafue firmly on your bucket list! 

Aren’t all camps involved in conservation?

Safari camps play a significant role in conservation by merely providing a presence, and were it not for the safari industry there would be little to no value of national parks (no revenues, jobs, etc.). The park fees that camps and lodges generate are important for the management of wilderness areas and infrastructure. We decided to take it a step further with Musekese Conservation.

The owners of J&M Safaris are actively involved in the conservation world through the creation of the non-profit ‘Musekese Conservation’ (see link here), bridging the gap between bona-fide resource protection and anti-poaching projects and the private sector (tourist camps/lodges) where funds from tourist revenues go towards an active conservation organization and the day to day running of it.

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