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Kasanka National Park & Bangweulu Wetlands

Kasanka National Park & Bangweulu Wetlands

Ever wanted to witness a wildlife phenomenon? The bat migration is one of nature’s top events occurring in late November and early December each year in Kasanka National Park.

Up to 10 million “straw coloured” fruit bats descend on this picturesque part of Zambia to gorge themselves on the ripening wild fruits and by day roost in a specific woodland.  Fish eagles, martial eagles, vultures and numerous other raptors have been seen to take the bats in flight further adding to this spectacle.

Apart from that, this park boasts some of the rarest animals and birds in the country. It’s home to fairly big herds of the swamp dwelling Sitatunga, Reedbuck, Waterbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok and the rare Blue Monkey.  It is a conservation programme in progress where puku and elephant numbers are increasing all of the time.  Kasanka’s diverse habitat of miombo woodland, evergreen forests, rivers, lakes and swamps supports a diverse bird population including Pel’s Fishing Owl, Ross’s Lourie and the Wattled Crane.

Safaris to North or South Luangwa can be combined with this unique region to get some really off the beaten track experiences.

Combine a stay at Kasanka with a trip further north to the Bangweulu Wetlands, a unique swamp environment where game walks and boating are the main forms of safari.   It’s famed for its enormous herds of Black Lechwe and the fact that it is home to the rare and prehistoric Shoebill stork has to make a visit to the Bangweulu Wetlands totally unmissable.

Day trips to Bangweulu can be combined with a stay in Kasanka National Park – just call us and we will be pleased to arrange this epic trip for you.

 

 

at a glance

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Introduction

Translated as ‘The Place Where the Water Meets the Sky’, the Bangweulu Wetlands is regarded as a fascinating water wilderness. Designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 1991, this infinite flat expanse is home to one of Zambia’s largest bodies of water, Lake Bangweulu. Lined with remarkable white, sandy beaches, this idyllic setting is an excellent spot for watching local fishermen and observing the clear waters and blue skies blending surreally into the horizon. Restoration and monitoring of the area commenced in 2010, with the aim to enhance fishing and restock the larger mammals over a 7 year period.

Highlights include the attractive endemic black lechwe and various antelope including sitatunga and tsessebe which make appearances in their thousands on the dry floodplains. Elephant and buffalo are frequently seen in herds while predators are less common. Night drives offer first class opportunities to spot side-striped jackal, white-tailed mongooses, civet and garnets. The wetlands attract an impressive array of birdlife throughout the year, including 1000 of Africa’s strangest and rarest birds; the shoebill stork. Standing at 1.4 meters tall and bearing a strong resemblance to the dodo, these magnificent creatures are best viewed in the months of May and June when they take refuge among the papyrus to breed. Migrant flamingos make appearances while huge flocks of wattled crane fill the skies. Raptors, fish eagles and bateleur eagles are plentiful as are plovers and herons. Take a 4WD, walking safari, boating expedition or canoeing adventure to get up close to this wonderful array of wildlife.

Situated on the southern fringes of the Bangweulu wetlands is Kasanka; Zambia’s first privately managed National Park. Despite only covering only 420km², this jewel of a reserve is home to a wide variety of flora, from dry evergreen forests and papyrus swamps to miombo woodland and red mahogany trees. This is a delightful spot to spend a relaxing few days and view wildlife in their undisturbed state. Puku antelope feature in high densities along the river, in addition to the shy sitatunga, numerous species of mongoose and small carnivores. Undoubtedly, the highlight is during November and December with spectacular sightings of enormous straw coloured fruit bat colonies. Every night before sunset, five million bats circle overhead searching for food, and with a wingspan of one meter, this makes for grand spectacles. Regarded as a perfect place for quiet, undisturbed bird watching, Kasanka is home to 453 species including ibis, storks, herons and reed cormorants, with the occasional appearance of the shoebill. Bream and tiger fishing is a further highlight.

When To Visit

Kasanka is an all year round destination, with the best bird viewing available from November to March (wet season) and best game viewing from May to October (dry season). The Bangweulu swamps are only accessible by boat in the rainy season.

January to April – January and February mark the peak of the rainy season so insects are abundant, so visitors should pack plenty of insect repellent if visiting during these months! Regardless, this is regarded as an excellent time for birding as many residents will be in breeding plumage and shoebills arrive towards the end of February. These early months also offer good sightings of lechwe in the swamps whereas other mammals retreat to the woodlands. As the rains draw to a close in April, travelling becomes easier and temperatures begin to fall to a more comfortable 27°C.

May to September – These winter months average 25°C during the day, with very little rainfall. May and June are the best months to view the shoebills as they take refuge among the papyrus to breed. The waters begin to recede in June and July, exposing large areas of fertile, open grasslands to view the animals. This is the optimum time for game drives while night drives offer good chances of spotting small carnivores. Birdlife is less prolific due to the departure of the summer migrants. August and September become steadily drier so the majority of game viewing is conducted on foot or by 4WD. It is more difficult to spot the shoebills which retreat into the permanent swamps during these months.  These later months are characterised by pleasant daytime temperatures but extremely cold nights where temperatures drop to freezing.

October to December – Temperatures peak in October at 31°C, leaving a parched and dusty expanse of land, but at the onset of rain in November the plains become greener, attracting massive herds of black lechwe from the wetlands and tsessebe from the woods. During this rainy season, the insects are more prolific and birdlife is phenomenal. Due to the rains, all wildlife viewing is by boat.

Kasanka & Bangweulu Highlights

Bat Migration

Bat Migration

Bat Migration

In November up to 10 million “straw coloured” fruit bats descend on this picturesque part of ...

read more
Bat Migration

Bat Migration

In November up to 10 million “straw coloured” fruit bats descend on this picturesque part of Zambia to gorge themselves on the ripening wild fruits and by day roost in a specific woodland.

Feeling inspired?

Enquire now
Antelope Species

Antelope Species

Antelope Species

Kasanka boasts some of the rarest animals and birds in the country. It’s home to fairly big ...

read more
Antelope Species

Antelope Species

Kasanka boasts some of the rarest animals and birds in the country. It’s home to fairly big herds of the swamp dwelling Sitatunga, Reedbuck, Waterbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok and the rare Blue Monkey.

Feeling inspired?

Enquire now
Shoebill Stork

Shoebill Stork

Shoebill Stork

Found in the Bangweulu Swamplands, these solitary giants standing at 1.5m. only pairing up for the ...

read more
Shoebill Stork

Shoebill Stork

Found in the Bangweulu Swamplands, these solitary giants standing at 1.5m. only pairing up for the purpose of mating.
Their distribution seems to coincide with the presence of papyrus and catfish.

Feeling inspired?

Enquire now

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