Kasanka National Park is located in central Zambia and borders the jungle territory of equatorial Congo. Offering a diverse ecosystem in a small pocket of Zambia in the basin of Lake Bangweulu, this tiny national park is the smallest one in Zambia. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in unusual sightings.
The topography of Kasanka comprises shallow papyrus lakes and dambos dotted across miombo woodlands, occasional evergreen forests and swampy flat plains. There are five perennial rivers in the park.
Kasanka’s claim to fame is its unique annual bat migration that sees millions of small fruit bats descend upon a patch of swampy forest. This rare phenomenon of bats rowing through the sky happens annually in Kasanka from November-December.
The bat migration is not the only rare sighting within this 315 square kilometre park. The rich ecosystem is a combination of Central equatorial Africa and southern Africa terrain, which gives rise to a contrasting environment that supports rare species such as the wattled crane, blue monkey, sitatunga and Ross’s turaco.
Visitors can fly into Zambia’s main airport, which is the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN). From the international airport, visitors will need to take a charter flight to a private airstrip within the park.
Visitors to Kasanka will be able to catch glimpses of the rare sitatunga antelope but the highlight is undoubtedly the yearly bat migration in November and December.
Safari-goers are attracted by Kasanka’s diverse habitat, unique wildlife an abundant birdlife that is perfectly positioned for one of the best self-drive experience’s in Zambia.
Leopard, buffalo and elephant are present within the national park, but they're only spotted on the rare occasion. The park supports plenty of antelope, zebra, hippo and crocodiles. Rare sitatunga, bushbuck, blue duiker, serval and blue monkeys are a few of the other common residents within the national park.
Visitors descend upon the park to witness the unusual African straw-coloured bat migration, the star attraction of Kasanka. There are 500 species of birdlife fluttering about in the park—species that include Ross’s and Schalow's turaco, African crowned-eagle and the African pitta.
Much like the rest of southern Africa, the best time to visit Zambia is during the dry season. The dry season is from July to October and is the ideal time for spotting wildlife. The lack of rainfall in the dry season means that water is scarce, so wildlife flocks to permanent waterholes.
Activities are limited during the wet season, which is from November to January. Wildlife is tricky to spot when the landscape is so thick with greenery. Between February and April, the landscape is lush after the summer rains, and the vegetation turns emerald.
The relative lack of dangerous animals opens up a world of activities for visitors to enjoy. Popular in the park is the wilderness walking trails spanning one to three days. Walking offers a completely enveloping safari experience. Trails introduce visitors to unique aspects of a safari, often missed while on game drives.
Mountain biking along the well-maintained network of roads is yet another adventurous way of exploring the wild. All walking and cycling tours require the expertise of a professional guide. The lakes and waterways provide the perfect conditions for canoeing and fishing activities. Fishing requires permits which can be arranged at park headquarters.
There’s a tree hide inside the park that offers an incredible bird’s-eye of the landscape and wildlife below. It’s a dream location for photographers. Game drives in the national park are a given, and the easiest way to spot a variety of wildlife.
Accommodation options are limited in the park, but there are a few good establishments scattered in scenic areas. Thatched rondavels and chalets are the main types of accommodation option available. There are also activity-specific lodges in the national park, as well as basic camping sites. Visitors who wish to camp need to be self-sufficient.