One of Africa’s most unusual and extraordinary spectacles
There are a few wildlife phenomena that really stand out as extraordinary events. The wildebeest migration in East Africa, the monarch butterflies arriving in Mexico come to mind. Well this is amongst those top events in the wildlife calendar. Up to ten million “straw-coloured fruit bats” converge upon Kasanka National Park as the fruits of a local tree ripen. These bats roost in a specific woodland and literally cover the trunks of the trees like thick icing. Then at sunset they all take off and fly out to forage. The sky is thick with bats. You can view all this from the 60 ft high hide, in a tree top, next to the woodland. And from this hide, during the day you will see many sitatunga in the swamp below.
Kasanka has other specials on offer – especially in the birding department. These may include African finfoot, Ross’ lourie, Pel’s fishing owl and osprey. Bangweulu Swamps will be visited for a day – flying over the plains with up to 100,000 black lechwe alone is a treat. On the ground you will see the endangered wattled crane and possibly the tsessebe. The safari will start at Nkwali Camp, where you will experience the rebirth period of the early Emerald Season in South Luangwa.
Every year at the end of October thousands of “straw coloured fruit bats” congregate in the trees of the Mushitu swamp forest near the confluence of the Musola and Kasanka rivers in Kasanka National Park. The bats come to feed for a short six weeks on the abundance of seasonal fruit including wild loquat and waterberries. By mid November their numbers reach into the millions. These migrations happen in other parts of Africa, but they tend to occur in urban areas, and with the growth of cities, bat numbers seem to be on the decline. To see millions of bats dispersing at dusk against the setting sun is one of the wildlife wonders of Africa, and one that definitely shouldn’t be missed.
The Bangweulu wetlands, just north of Kasanka are one of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife secrets with over 100,000 black lechwe and the world’s most visible shoebill storks. Kasanka is famed for having over 400 bird species, as well as both the tsessebe and sitatunga species of antelope. The South Luangwa River adds to the wildlife experience with the chance to see wild dog and explore the lush, colourful landscape at this time of year. Here’s a summarized itinerary of this year’s bat safari:
Upon arrival at Mfuwe Airport you will be met and transferred to Nkwali Camp. The drive takes about one hour through colourful village scenes, agriculture, and bush. Nkwali Camp has a wide view of the Luangwa River, on private land overlooking the South Luangwa National Park. The six rooms all look out over the river and have open air bathrooms. Depending on your arrival time in the day you will enjoy a lunch looking out over the lagoon to the back of Nkwali or if in the afternoon for tea and the afternoon and night game drive.
After a relaxing breakfast, with porridge heated on the fire and toast cooked by the coals, you will be transferred to the airstrip where you will meet your flight to Kasanka National Park. A beautiful scenic flight over the Luangwa River Valley and the escarpment. Upon arrival you will be transferred to Wasa Camp where you will spend the next three days amongst the glory of the bat migration.
Two days of quiet relaxation with a chance to bird-watch, spend time in the Fibwe hide to catch a glimpse of the shy sitatunga, and view all of the other fantastic species in this area such as Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, Pel’s fishing owl, etc. And of course, you can’t forget the bats! You will also have the opportunity to visit the Bangweulu Swamps for a day to see the Black Lechwe during the calving period, as well as a variety of interesting water birds. After breakfast on the fifth day of your African safari you will be transferred back to the airstrip for your flight to Mfuwe. Contact Road Travel to arrange your Unusual and Extraordinary Kasanka Bat Safari.