We have all heard and read reams about the great wildebeest migration of the Serengeti, but have you ever heard of fruit bat migration? Welcome to the remote wilderness of Kasanka National Park; a small but scenic park covering just 390 sq km, but packing incredible biodiversity. Located on the southwestern edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin, forming a part of Congo basin, the park blends together the drier Eastern and Southern African safari experience with tropical Congo elements to present a unique experience to the visitors. The diverse habitats of the park are characterised by miombo woodlands, evergreen thicket, papyrus swamp, open grassland and rivers fringed with emerald forest, wet grasslands, lagoons that support a wide array of wildlife with the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope being the star attractions. Elephant, sable, black lechwe and a wide range of other mammals are often seen, too, in smaller numbers.
Other common antelope species include bushbuck, duiker, reedbuck, blue monkey, and puku. Between July and October you’ll most likely see sable antelopes and hartebeests, and may also be treated to a glimpse of roan antelopes. The lakes and rivers host a good number of crocodiles and hippos. Nocturnal sightings of jackals, civets, and porcupines are also known. The park is also a popular birding site with Over 440 bird species have been recorded, including such rarities as Pel’s fishing owl, the Pygmy-goose, Ross’s loerie, Bohm's bee-eater, the osprey and the wattled crane. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of the rare shoebill stork. But what truly distinguishes the Kasanka is the unique and spectacular congregation of nearly 10 Million migratory Straw-Coloured Fruitbats every November and December – the biggest mammal gathering anywhere in the world. Fly camping is also possible, and the guided walks, wildlife drives (both day and night), canoeing, motorboat trips, and fishing trips make Kasanga an amazing experience.
Kasanka is open for visitors all year round but game viewing is excellent in the dry months of May to October as the wildlife are out and frequenting the lake, river and swamps for water and easily seen. Birding is especially good in the wet season from November to March when migrants arrive from the north and if you are interested in the impressive phenomenon of migratory fruit bats blanketing the sky at dust then be present during the months of November and December.
The park is a scenic unspoiled piece of wilderness that blends together the typically drier east and South African safari experience with the tropical rainforests. It’s the best place for sitatunga spotting and you can also see elephants, sable, hartebeest, black lechwe hippos, crocodiles and a wide range of other mammals are often seen, too, in smaller numbers. Definitely a birding paradise with over 440 recorded species of avifauna with spectacular congregation of nearly 10 Million migratory Straw-Coloured Fruitbats being its major draw. Fly camping is also possible, and the guided walks, wildlife drives (both day and night), canoeing, motorboat trips, and fishing trips make Kasanga an amazing experiences.
You can drive by road on a cab to Kasanka from Lusaka or the Copperbelt. It's a long drive of about 5-6 hours so fill up your vehicle with gas. Take the Great North Road from Lusaka, turn right just after Kapiri Mposhi and left after Serenje on the road to Samfya. Turn left at the 54km mark into the Park at the Malaushi gate. The roads are in fairly good condition so you will be fine.