KASANKA NATIONAL PARK
Kasanka is one of Zambia’s smallest National Parks situated on the south western edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin; it only covers about 450 square kilometers. However, this peaceful wildlife sanctuary is well endowed with rivers, lakes, wetlands, forests, lagoons, meadows and dambos that it supports a unique wide range of animals, birds and fish.
This one of a few parks in Zambia which are under private management. There are 2 camps and a few campsites run by Kasanka Trust – most of the revenue collected from these camps and campsites are directed towards the conservation project.
Athough there is still none of the heart-stopping walking safaris amongst elephant herds, or any lions brushing past your open vehicle as in the larger parks, there are some of the rarest birds and animals in the country, found in the beautiful miombo woodlands, swamp forest, grasslands, floodplains and riverine bushveld, to be enjoyed on leisurely walks and drives. There are ample opportunities for fishing tigerfish, bream and barbel in the beautiful Luwombwa River. Boats are available for hire but you should bring your own tackle.
As a visitor to Kasanka National Park, you will most likely see animals such as hippo, sable antelope and liechtenstein’s hartebeest. The puku, once reduced to a few hundred, today exceed 1500. There are also fairly big herds of the swamp-dwelling sitatunga, reedbuck, waterbuck, Sharpe’s grysbok and the rare blue monkey. Elephants also appear from time to time, and their numbers are slowly recovering. Together with Kasanka’s noted birdlife, the animals can be seen on guided walks through the grassy plains, mushitu forests, large tracts of miombo woodland, and alongside riverine forest and papyrus swamps. Over 330 bird species have been recorded, including such rarities as Pel’s fishing owl, the Pygmy goose, Ross’s loerie, the osprey and the wattled crane. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of the rare shoebill stork.
GETTING TO KASANKA NATIONAL PARK
We arrange road transfers from Lusaka for our clients going to Kasanka National Park. It takes about 6 hours to drive to Kasanka National Park from Lusaka and all our drivers know the roads very well.
A private charter flight can also be arranged with one of the local charter companies for clients who may not endure the long hours of driving from Lusaka to Kasanka.
WHERE TO STAY IN KASANKA NATIONAL PARK
Wasa Lodge is the main base for the park’s management team. The Lodge has 3 luxury chalets and 6 basic rondavels, each with en-suite showers and a flush toilet. Both bar/dining area and chalets have a great location overlooking Lake Wasa, and guests have an opportunity to see game and birds that frequent the Lake in front of the Lodge.
Wasa has a sister camp, Luwombwa Lodge located on the other end of the park along a steam that retains water all round near the border with Congo – you can also enjoy fishing when you are staying at this lodge. Extending your stay to the Bangweulu Wetlands, Mutinondo Wilderness, Shiwa Ng’andu or North Luangwa National Park will add to your experience.
For the more adventurous, there are number of campsites in strategic positions around Kasanka National Park, all of them fitted with basic facilities.
WHAT TO SEE – WILDLIFE
One thing not to miss during your visit to Kasanka is the unique platform hide, which is 18 meters high on a giant mululu tree with excellent views of over the Kapabi Swamp. The rare and elusive statunga antelope feed in the swamps below the hide in the early mornings and late afternoons.
Not to be missed is the unique platform hide, 18m high in a giant mululu tree with a panoramic view over the Kapabi Swamp. The rare and elusive sitatunga aquatic antelope feeds in the swamps below in the early mornings or late afternoons. Of course, a magnificent experience from the same hide in November and December is the evening and morning flight of several million fruit bats as they leave their roosts in search of food, darkening the sky for a few moments.
The Chisamba Wamponde pan attracts large herds of puku, spur winged goose and saddle-bill storks, and hosts many hippos and waterbuck. Duiker are often seen in the woodlands fringing the pan. Lake Ndolwa is a beautiful and secluded spot where the shy shoebill stork has been seen in the papyrus reeds flanking the lake.
Chikufwe Plain is particularly rewarding in the early hours of the morning during the dry season. The plain is the favourite haunt of the sable and also attracts large numbers of hartebeest, reedbuck and occasionally a few zebra and buffalo. This is an excellent birdwatching site too, especially for raptors such as the black-breasted snake eagle.