Zambia’s remote Busanga Plains are one of the best places to visit in Southern Africa if you want to see lions. Find out more about what to see and where to stay in the Kafue National Park, one of Africa’s lesser known top wildlife destinations.
Secluded and special, the Busanga Plains can be found in the north of Zambia’s Kafue National Park, one of the continent’s largest protected spaces. If it’s raw nature, off-the-beaten-track and authentic that you want out of a trip to Africa, this region delivers. It is probably best suited to second or third-time-to -Africa travellers who have already been to the Kruger and/or Botswana.
The plains are positioned on an ancient lake bed which undergoes regular flooding during Zambia’s rainy season (November to April). During dry spells, the plains are reminiscent of the savannah of the Serengeti plains, distinct from the miombo woodlands which characterise most of Kafue National Park. With an abundance of puku, wildebeest, oribi, bushbuck, red lechwe, sable and roan antelope, Kafue National Park is one of Zambia’s prime game-viewing locations.
The Busanga Plains is one of the best destinations in Africa to see lion and boasts healthy populations of cheetah, elephant and buffalo as well. It is not a region one pops into for two or three nights, the distances are vast in this corner of Africa but safari purists, with a decent budget and some time, who are in search of their next wilderness experience can access the region with air transfers from Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) and Livingstone (the safari hub at Victoria Falls) directly to the Busanga airstrip.
As safari aficionados we love to recommend two of the Wilderness Safaris camps located right in the heart of the grasslands.
Busanga Bush Camp
Veiled by a stand of sycamore fig trees on a tree island in the midst of the plains, Busanga Bush Camp offers an authentic experience for the more hardy and seasoned African travellers. The camp provides a rustic yet comfortable stay in 4 pole-and-thatch tents. Private verandas provide exquisite views of the sunrise as it bursts through the seasonal mists over the plains. The bath rooms are en-suite with quaint bucket showers open to the skies. The central lounge area is under canvas and is backed by an open-air dining room shaded by fig trees and overhung by a unique lantern chandelier. In front, a lantern-lit path draws you towards the fire-pit located just a few feet away. Evenings spent here are filled with brilliant stargazing, meals cooked over glowing coals, bush lore and insights into African mythology. A viewing deck affords panoramic views over the plains where herds of antelope gather.
Lions have been known to wander quite close to camp, and elephants are fond of picking fruit from the surrounding fig trees, adding an extra element of excitement to stays at Busanga Bush Camp. While you can fill many hours simply gazing out into the wilderness or keeping yourself occupied with a pair of binoculars, the main event of any day are the boat trips to Hippo Pools and other scenic spots.
Out in the field, guests are party to excellent game viewing with an experienced game guard in attendance. Lion, buffalo, lechwe, cheetah, white-tailed mongoose, side-striped jackal, elephant, oribi, sable and roan antelope and the occasional porcupine are often sighted on these expeditions. The birdlife is overwhelming with 100s of species resident around the plains. Hot air balloon trips over the endless plains provide elevated views of splashing lechwe and lumbering hippo among the watery landscapes.
Shumba Bush Camp
Named after a resident lion pride, Shumba Bush Camp is a more luxurious option for experienced safari-goers. From its prized position on a sycamore fig tree island, Shumba Camp overlooks the plains in every direction. The 6 rooms are substantial wood and canvas constructions raised 2m from the ground and featuring en-suite bathrooms with both indoor and outdoor showers. A full-length mirror, twin basins, sunken outdoor seating area, room safes, 2 queen-sized four poster beds and a power-point are just some of the luxuries you can look forward to at Shumba Bush Camp. Wooden walkways lead to an elevated undercover central area where the luxury and outstanding views continue. A small splash pool offers respite from warm African weather and meals may be enjoyed either in the shaded dining room or al fresco under the fig trees.
At Shumba Bush Camp, your days are filled with safaris in a 4 wheel-drive vehicle, hot air balloon, or swamp boat to see what the local lions, wild dogs, wildebeest, zebra, oribi and other antelope are up to. The chance to spot water birds like saddle-billed storks, goliath herons and wattled cranes is an extra treat. Evenings are taken up by fireside tales against a backdrop of the African night chorus under black skies aglow with millions of stars.
A Zambian safari is easily combined with trips to most southern African destinations including South Africa and Tanzania. We can arrange wilderness travel to all the best places to visit in Southern Africa. We’ll join the dots and make the logistics work seamlessly. See what previous clients have to say about how smoothly we take care of all the planning for you. Trust Pilot