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Connect with us through our stories from Africa's wild places, the people we share and care for them with, and the wildlife that continue to amaze us.

A herd of lechwe antelope near water on grassy plains of Busanga Plains Kafue National Park The Wild Wetlands of the Busanga Plains, Kafue Megan Lewis 2023-02-02 18:15:29 Wrapping Up the Year of the Hippo; Looking to Travel in 2023 Megan Lewis 2022-12-20 10:21:18 Top 4 Best African Safari Experiences You’ve Never Heard of Megan Lewis 2022-11-01 15:28:48 The Diary of a Green Safaris Guest Natasha Parker 2022-10-12 22:53:48 Get starry-eyed while at Kaya Mawa Lodge on your Lake Malawi holiday Get Starry-eyed on Your Lake Malawi Holiday Megan Lewis 2022-10-02 10:29:02 Lion lying on ground looking at camera in front of game drive with family on safari in Zambia Going on a Family Safari in Zambia is Easier than you Think Megan Lewis 2022-09-29 12:51:16 Myth-Busting Green Season Safaris in South Luangwa Megan Lewis 2022-08-29 12:00:33 Bride and groom walk through guests in African print designs at Black Panther inspired wedding above Victoria Falls African Print Designs Dazzle in Black Panther Inspired Wedding Megan Lewis 2022-08-04 10:58:27 Kaya Mawa Revamp Brings More Magic to Your Malawi Holiday Megan Lewis 2022-06-30 06:37:11 Introduction to Conservation South Luangwa Guest 2022-06-29 15:11:27 Introduction to the Zambian Carnivore Programme Guest 2022-06-29 14:54:10 Introduction to Panthera Guest 2022-06-29 14:38:27 Introduction to Project Luangwa Guest 2022-06-29 14:31:38 Introduction to By Life Connected and the Green Safaris Conservation Foundation Guest 2022-06-29 14:21:21 Why Zambia? 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Natasha Parker 2021-09-20 14:11:10 Tongabezi treehouse overlooking Zambezi River for luxury tree house holidays Luxury Treehouse Holidays for Lovebirds Megan Lewis 2021-08-30 16:52:06 Nest suite with elevator at Chisa Busanga Camp built for travellers with disabilities Let’s Make Africa More Accessible for Travellers with Disabilities Guest 2021-08-03 20:04:26 Vaccinating the Tongabezi Team Natasha Parker 2021-05-24 14:38:39 Is Sustainable Travel Possible? Megan Lewis 2021-05-10 07:00:54 Silent safari, Green Safaris, Game drive, Sustainable Safari What is a Silent Safari? Megan Lewis 2021-05-06 07:00:49 Eco-friendly safari, Green Safaris, Chisa Busanga Camp, Chisa Nest, Busanga Plains, Kafue Safari Our Eco-friendly Safari Camps Open in Busanga Plains & South Luangwa Megan Lewis 2021-04-23 10:15:17 Chipasha Mwamba bio Meet the Team Natasha Parker 2021-03-12 07:40:43 Green Safaris Is Planning For Happiness Natasha Parker 2020-11-30 06:23:41 Dangling off the Edge of Victoria Falls from Livingstone Island Natasha Parker 2020-10-26 14:02:53 Talking Tujatane this World Teachers’ Day Anna da Graca 2020-10-05 06:00:22 luxury honeymoon Africa, luxury lodge victoria falls, luxury honeymoon victoria falls Disgruntled Honeymooners Of 2020, This Is For You... Anna da Graca 2020-10-01 11:27:36 Why The Tongabezi Handshake Projects Matter, According to their Team Leaders Natasha Parker 2020-09-29 12:49:50 Meet The 'Tongabezi Handshake' Team Leaders Natasha Parker 2020-08-18 13:49:20 The 'Tongabezi Handshake' Community Projects Natasha Parker 2020-08-18 13:49:02 Tongabezi, Luxury Wellness Retreat, Zambezi River, Victoria Falls A Luxury Wellness Retreat on the Zambezi River Anna da Graca 2020-05-27 14:14:37 Covid Kindness: Supporting Our Village Elders Natasha Parker 2020-05-19 13:31:58 Tongabezi, Ankara Fashion, Chitenge, Luxury Victoria Falls Honeymoon, Gaby Endo An Ankara Fashion Collaboration at Tongabezi Anna da Graca 2020-04-24 11:57:12 Tongabezi Joins the Green Safaris Family  Natasha Parker 2020-02-09 18:46:05 From Netherlands to Likoma Island, Lake Malawi Abby Lane 2020-02-01 00:00:21 Good Karma at Kaya Mawa Lodge in Malawi Laura Birtles 2019-12-01 00:00:24 We Put Vincent Kouwenhoven (Founder of Green Safaris) In The Spotlight Lauren Watson 2019-11-01 00:00:36 Victoria Falls Zimbabwe Tongabezi Voted 9th Best Resort in Africa Natasha Parker 2019-10-11 13:33:56 Green Safaris Lauren Watson 2019-10-01 00:00:20 Green Safaris Conservation Foundation Lauren Watson 2019-08-30 00:00:28 Rise and Fall of the Zambezi Martin Visser 2019-04-24 12:41:23 Lunar Rainbow The Lunar Rainbow: A Unique Way to Experience Victoria Falls Martin Visser 2019-04-24 10:31:04 Walk, Swim and Eat Your Way Across Victoria Falls from Livingstone Island Natasha Parker 2018-10-15 13:01:54 A Nelson Mandela quote for every year he spent in prison in the name of freedom Natasha Parker 2018-07-18 11:38:50 Condé Nast 2018, Tongabezi takes Gold  Guest 2018-02-14 07:15:49

The Wild Wetlands of the Busanga Plains, Kafue

This World Wetlands Day, we explore the freshwater lagoons and expansive floodplains of the Busanga Plains, Kafue National Park to discover why this wetland system is one of Zambia’s – if not the region’s – most important natural treasures.

Wetlands make up 4,030,500 hectares or 19% of Zambia’s total area, and are an integral part in supporting the health of its natural environment, wildlife and people. These complex ecosystems play an irreplaceable role in removing pollutants from the environment, protecting the climate by storing up land-based carbon, absorbing water and thus supporting food supply, as well as providing a home and breeding space for up a wide variety of species. It is for all these reasons – and many more – that protecting wetlands and conserving their natural resources is essential for the survival of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Close up of male lion lying down looking into camera

Zambia currently has eight sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), which are recognised globally as having significant value for the country, region and humanity as a whole. The Bangweulu Swamps and Kafue Flats became Zambia’s first Ramsar sites in 1991, when the government ratified the international Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention). The treaty provides the framework on the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. By 2008, Zambia’s Ramsar site list had grown to include the Barotse (Zambezi) Floodplains, Luangwa Floodplains, Lukanga Swamps, Lake Mweru-wa-Ntipa, Lake Tanganyika and Busanga Swamps.

Life on the Busanga Plains, Kafue

The Busanga Swamps, known also as the Busanga Plains, is a 72,000-hectare seasonal wetland hidden away in the north-western region of the Kafue National Park. This is Zambia’s largest and oldest national park, representing about 36% of the country’s national parks coverage. It forms part of the five-country Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and is quite possibly one of Africa’s last great expanses of well-protected pristine wilderness. Kafue, and in particular the Busanga Plains, is one of the country’s least visited natural areas and it continues to remain truly wild and remote.

A herd of elephants at sunset on Busanga Plains Kafue National Park

It is made up of palm groves, large grassy plains or dambos, and winding interconnected channels. The swamp ecosystem of Busanga is crucial in naturally filtrating and replenishing groundwater and acting as flood control for the Kafue and Zambezi rivers. The plains are seasonal due to flooding from the Lufupa River during the wet season, which causes an explosion of lush vegetation and abundant water sources over Busanga. As the flood waters recede from about June through to November, they leave behind a playground for a wide collection of animals such as lion, cheetah, buffalo, hippo, elephant, near-endemic red lechwe, the endangered African wild dog, side-striped jackal, and the rare oribi antelope.

A pair of male antelope rutting during mating season

Almost 500 species of birds have been recorded on the Busanga Plains. The list includes vulnerable species like the wattled and grey crowned cranes, Chaplin’s barbet which is endemic to the area, and beauties like Ross’s turaco and black-backed barbet that enjoy the fruit of Busanga’s wild fig trees and date palms. Large flocks of open-billed and yellow-billed storks thrive off small creatures like crustaceans and fish in the shallow pools. The lesser kestrel and Montagu’s harrier are just some of the birds to migrate here in the warmer months.

Large brown bird of prey standing on grass

For the local community that live near to the Busanga Plains, traditional fishing rights ensure that this remains an important source of food, income and connection to the land. There is a wide variety of fish, most notably banded tilapia, tigerfish, and vundu, a type of catfish. Moving away from the water, the Busanga Plains are dotted with magnificent baobab trees that bear historical and traditional significance through the fables that local people have passed down for generations.

As a large freshwater wetland in Southern Africa, the Busanga Plains is not only Zambia’s national treasure, but also a critical source of life for the wildlife and communities in neighbouring countries. The seasonal full into and flow outward from the plains provide the necessary drinking water, sanitation and a host of natural resources to thousands of people.

Eco-tourism that cares for Zambia’s natural and cultural heritage

Zambia is a leader in sustainable tourism in Africa, taking a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to the safari industry in this key conservation areas like Kafue. Due to the park’s vast size and the difficult access routes that are further restricted during the rainy season, it is without major development. Safari lodges and camps that are there, need to follow environmental standards and regulations set out in the 1998 Zambia Wildlife Act. All of this means that the Busanga Plains remains in a near-untouched condition.

A lioness lying down on grass in front of game drive vehicle on Busanga Plains Kafue National Park

Chisa Busanga Camp was built to mimic its surrounds, resulting in not only a beautiful and unique architectural design but also a small collection of structures that keep the integrity of the Busanga Plains environment. Chisa is the Nyanja word for ‘bird’s nest’, and the four Nest suites were inspired by the weaver bird nests that are built in the surrounding trees. The camp runs completely off solar-generated power as do the game drive vehicles used to explore plains during the dry season (June to November).

A Nest suite at Chisa Busanga Camp by Green Safaris on Busanga Plains Kafue National Park

Our signature Silent Safaris experience was pioneered at Ila Safari Lodge in central Kafue with Zambia’s first solar-powered electric game vehicle, the e-Landy. Silent Safaris are also part of the Chisa experience, and the e-Landy offers guests a game drive that is gentle on Busanga’s delicate environment an eco-friendly way to explore the plains. Because the e-Landy is powered by solar rather than diesel, the ride is quiet which makes the game sightings more intense, the birdlife interactions closer, and the sounds of the bush uncompromised.

A lioness lying down on grass in front of game drive vehicle on Busanga Plains Kafue National Park

World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to bring awareness locally and internationally to the critical importance of wetlands. But protecting and caring for wetlands like the Busanga Plains is a year-round job done by dedicated conservationists, communities, and government officials. As much as 35% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last 50 years and the goal for Zambian’s to strive for is to not allow the Busanga Plains and the rest of Zambia’s wetlands to add to the sad statistic.

First published in Grow Zambia Magazine.