Busanga Bushcamp accommodates up to eight guests in four pole-and-thatch chalets.
Busanga Bushcamp: Our full report
On the north-west side of the Busanga Plains, Busanga Bushcamp lies hidden in a small tree island of giant sycamore fig trees and wild date palms. Though not as grand as its sister camps, Kapinga Camp and Shumba Camp, this is a first-class little bushcamp with a very rustic approach.
Busanga Bushcamp has just four chalets – which are shaped like traditional Meru-style tents. Mosquito-proof gauze is used for the top half of their walls – allowing a breeze to blow through – and the bottom section and roof are made of canvas. Each room has two large queen-sized beds, and an open-air en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet and hot showers.
(Read more about the chalets…)
The comfortable lounge and bar area of Busanga Bushcamp are at the centre of the camp. This wooden structure is covered by a canvas roof and has an uninterrupted view over the plains. As the building faces east, this is the perfect spot from which to watch sunrise during breakfast whilst enjoying the sight of herds of lechwe and puku feeding. A little further back is the dining boma, an open area shaded by a tall tree from which a lantern chandelier hangs - a spectacular sight when lit up at night.
There is a small library stocked with a limited number of reference books and other reading matter. Tea and coffee is available throughout the day whilst the bar uses a self-service system.
Near the main area, a wooden viewing deck has been built into a large sausage tree. This can easily be reached on a short walk from the camp.
The vast Busanga Plains are more reminiscent of the Serengeti's open grasslands than any of Zambia's usual bush terrain, making this a worthwhile and contrasting stop on any safari to this country.
For at least half the year – typically from about mid-November to late-June – these plains are largely flooded. The flora and fauna can be amazing. This lush, swampy landscape attracts masses of birdlife, with flock of cranes, herons and other waders, often including good numbers of wattled and crowned cranes. Although this area can be challenging to travel around during these months, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen including herds of buffalo numbering 500+, graceful puku antelope and large herds of red lechwe – all of which are attracted by the verdant vegetation and large stretches of surface water.
As the water dries, from around June onwards, the remaining vegetation stays nutritious for many months. These grasslands then increasingly start to attract dry-country animals, most notably herds of zebra and blue wildebeest – which increases the variety of the game that most visitors will see on the Busanga Plains.
During the whole year, several prides of lion are resident in and around the plains – the water doesn't put them off; they're well-known in this area for their tree climbing antics!
The other large predators found here are cheetah and wild dog. The Busanga Plains certainly offer visitors their best chance of seeing cheetah in Zambia. Similarly, northern Kafue is one of the strongholds for wild dogs in the region, and they're seen here fairly commonly. Spotted hyena also occur, but as their dens are largely restricted to areas that don't flood, around the tree-line, they're not often seen on the Busanga Plains.
When we last visited we found the Busanga Plains particularly good for game rarely spotted in other regions of southern Africa. In particular we saw a large herd of roan antelope which were very relaxed, allowing us to spend a long time viewing and photographing this usually shy antelope. We were frequently treated to sightings of the diminutive and delightful oribi antelope in the 'termitaria zone' on the edge of the plains – which are rarely see in most of Africa's parks – and also had two superb sightings serval.
Activities from Busanga Bushcamp include 4WD game drives to explore the plains; both day and night drives are possible. We enjoyed a few really long morning drives here, which reached across most of the different corners of the Busanga Plains, and really enjoyed this.
During the wetter months of the year, there are sometimes chances to use mekoro (dug-out canoes) and motor boats – although this is unusual rather than the rule. Sometimes short walking safaris are also possible – although the open country of the plains doesn't lend itself to walking.
Our viewWe really like this small, exclusive camp which felt like a proper safari camp – not a boutique hotel. It has been situated well, overlooking sunrise on the plains, and the food and camp staff were great. The guides were good, and brought the plains alive, even at times when there seemed to be little to see.
Our only reservation about Busanga Bushcamp is that being small; it won't suit people who need constant change or entertainment. There's little to do between activities, and you need to be happy entertaining yourself.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a 3-night stay here at Busanga Bushcamp as part of a longer safari combined with Lufupa Bushcamp.
Directions: Take a light aircraft flight lasting about 90 minutes from Lusaka or about 105 minutes from Livingstone to the Busanga Airstrip. From here it is a short but incredibly spectacular helicopter transfer to the bush camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Busanga Bushcamp are delicious and plentiful. Whilst dishes might not be considered gourmet they are certainly at the standard expected of a good safari camp - each is well presented, well prepared and very tasty.
There is always time for a quick breakfast before the morning activity. A buffet of cereals, toast, yoghurt, fresh fruit and muffins or mini pancakes is laid out in the main area.
A large brunch is usually served upon return from your morning activity. A variety of salads, including pasta, potato and green, is usually accompanied with a quiche or meat dish and fresh breads. The chef lights up his barbeque and prepares eggs, sausages and bacon to order – which sets you up for the afternoon siesta. If you've just arrived at camp you might be offered a light lunch instead.
Dinner at Busanga Bushcamp is usually a 3-course affair set out in the boma, under a beautifully lantern lit 'chandelier' made of hurricane lamps. The starter and desert is usually served to you whilst the main course is a self-service buffet. When we last visited, we began with mushrooms in a filo pastry pocket flavoured with blue cheese sauce, followed by lamb chops served with basmati rice and vegetables and rounded off with bread and butter pudding.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All locally-produces drinks, including all soft drinks, beers, most spirits, and the house wines are included. Specialty imported spirits, vintage wines and champagnes will always cost extra.
Birdwatching: The small Busanga Bushcamp on the Busanga Plains is a wild spot with exciting birdlife. When the plains flood, Dec-June, there are high densities of water-birds, including saddle-billed storks and wattled cranes; whilst crowned cranes are often seen dancing. Endemics such as Chaplin's barbet and unusual species like Lady Ross's turaco are highlights of the wooded areas.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Wildlife safaris: The small Busanga Bushcamp stands beside the amazing Busanga Plains, which encompass a variety of habitats from marshlands and papyrus beds to open grasslands and tree islands. The wildlife here includes unusual species such as serval, oribi, Lichtenstein's hartebeest and Defassa waterbuck; it is the only areas in Zambia where cheetah are regularly seen.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome.
Generally recommended for children: As this is a small camp with limited communal areas and no pool we don't recommend it to children under the age of 16 as they may find there is too little to do between safari activities.
Notes: Note that Busanga Bushcamp is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife wanders through on a regular basis – so children should be constantly supervised.
Power supply: Solar Power
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Guides and managers are proficient in first aid. Medical evacuation is used in emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: None as this is a small and remote camp. Compressed air alarms are provided in each chalet for guests to alert management in the case of an emergency.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are provided at each room and serviced regularly.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included.