Where to camp in Zambian parks

With its vast wilderness areas, Zambia is a dream destination for overlanders and nature lovers. Following a trip to several Zambian national parks last year, Alta Wessels highlights where to camp.

When we travel to a country like Zambia, we do so almost exclusively to visit the national parks and enjoy the wildlife. The facilities at the campsites are secondary to the destination. We are quite comfortable with off-grid camping and some of our favourite campsites ever have been no more than a number on a tree. 

On a recent trip, we visited a number of Zambian national parks, mostly staying inside the park, but at times just outside. To find out what to expect from the campsites and get tips to make life easier, read on.

These were our favourite campsites (in the order that we visited them): 

Liuwa Plain National Park

We stayed at Kwale, Mukalabumbu and Katoyana campsites inside the park. These campsites were quite comparable, all having ample shade, but no grass. They have shared ablutions with flush toilets and hot showers – nothing to write home about, but clean and functional. 

At Katoyana in Liuwa Plain National Park you can relax in the shade of trees. Pictures by Emile Wessels.
The slender oribi is one of the prized sightings in Liuwa Plain.

One thing to note is that the sand is very sooty and your feet in particular will get rather black and dirty. Getting into bed with clean feet proved to be quite a challenge. While the campsites themselves were not necessarily a highlight, we spent a few very enjoyable days in Liuwa Plain. We saw many of the large hyaenas for which the park is known and witnessed the start of the annual blue Wildebeest migration. We also had our first ever sighting of oribi (similar to a steenbok but with a black tail). Despite the access road being quite a challenge when we visited, we can recommend a visit to Liuwa Plain. 

Tracks4Africa says: Access to Liuwa Plain National Park has been improved with construction of new bridges, Silanda and Luanginga, across waterways between Kalabo and the park. As of late April 2024, a road connecting the two bridges was under construction.

Kafue National Park

For the first part of our stay in Kafue, we camped at Kasabushi Campsite. Situated on the banks of the Kafue River inside the park, this was one of our favourite spots. The campsites are of a decent size and although there is sufficient shade, there is no grass. The ablutions, shared, are a highlight. The architecture is quirky and blends in with the landscape. The showers are like standing under a waterfall – exquisite! There is also enough provision made for your toiletries, towels and fresh clothes. You’ll even find toilet paper in the ablutions – not always a given. The owners weren’t at home when we visited, but they offer boat trips on the river and are reportedly very knowledgeable birders. 

The ablutions at Kasabushi are an attraction in their own right. Picture by Tessa Reijndorp

Another interesting touch at Kasabushi was the Doom station, about 50m before the entrance to the campsite. This is where you must stop and spray all the tsetse flies that have congregated around your vehicle before proceeding to the campsite. It really helped to minimise the number of tsetse flies in the campsite itself. We continued using this method for the duration of our trip and bought numerous super-sized cans of Doom.  

Busanga Plains

From Kasabushi we relocated to Bongololo Campsite (part of Mozhi Bush Camp). The campsite itself was fairly basic, with shared ablutions featuring flush toilets and hot water. However, in our opinion this campsite is a must as it is the closest camping option to Busanga Plains. All the other campsites are significantly further away and the plains itself shouldn’t be missed – we saw three different leopards, lions, side-striped jackal and Lichtenstein hartebeest all in one day. 

A wonderful sighting of wild dog on the Busanga Plains.

Both the people at Mozhi and the guides accompanying game viewers we encountered along the way were very friendly and helpful. We are not used to guides telling independent travellers where to go to find the animals! The next day, on our way out of the park, we had probably the best sighting of our entire trip – a pack of at least 20 wild dogs. What made it extra special, was the fact that we were the only people at the sighting. 

Tip: If you leave Kafue National Park before 09:00 you do not have to pay park fees for that day.

What was also quite interesting is that Kafue park officials were open to flexible travel plans. If you are not sure how long you will stay, they are likely to tell you “If you stay longer, just pay the rest when you come out”.

For scenes from the trip and more information on these parks, watch the YouTube video Zambia: Liuwa and Kafue.

North Luangwa National Park

Mushika Campsite is situated on the riverbank, providing a beautiful view. The only facilities are a long drop toilet and a hand pump for water, but no shower enclosure. The campsite’s basic ablutions didn’t matter to us. The setting is nice and secluded and you have the entire site to yourself.

Like Mushika, the other wilderness campsites in North Luangwa consist of a large clearing, a hand pump and long drop toilet.

Tracks4Africa says: In addition to these off-grid campsites, there are also two community camps, Ituba and Samala. These have well-equipped safari tents and campsites that feature showers and toilets. Read more: North Luangwa’s Amatololo Experience

South Luangwa National Park

There are no campsites inside South Luangwa, only lodges. To visit the Nsefu Sector, we stayed at Zikomo, located outside the park, close to Milyoti Gate. We found it frightfully expensive at USD50 per person, with small campsites right on top of each other. Track and Trail Campsite (USD17 per person per night), situated just outside the Mfuwe Gate, was more cost effective. 

Track & Trail Camp treats campers to green grass, shade and braai facilities.

At Track and Trail you camp on grass and there is ample shade available from trees and thatched shelters. A low electric fence keeps hippos out of the campsite. Unfortunately, it does not work for monkeys, but the lodge staff are pretty good at chasing them off. The ablutions are modern, spacious and clean. Campers also have access to all the lodge facilities, including the swimming pool. The restaurant is good and reasonably priced. Track and Trail is really close to the park’s main entrance gate, which makes this campsite a very good choice for South Luangwa.

To see more of North and South Luangwa, watch the YouTube video Zambia: North and South Luangwa.

For help with planning your trip to Zambia, get our Zambia Self-Drive Guide. It contains descriptions of the country’s overlanding destinations, comprehensive accommodation listings and atlas pages. What’s more, there are four suggested itineraries and nine transit routes to get you started. For a macro view, turn to the Zambia Paper Map, which shows the country’s road network, including minor gravel roads and off-road tracks. The Zambia Travel Bundle offers you these products together at a savings. 

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