BANGWEULU WETLANDS ZAMBIA
Bangweulu means, ‘The Place where the water meets the sky’. This is true with this iconic destination because when you look out over the Lake, the grey blue waters disappear into the horizon, blending completely with the colour of the sky.
The local people have used the Lake as a source of fish, its breathtaking beauty makes a great tourist destination. At the moment, we book our clients into Nkondo Tented Camp which is a 12 guest capacity small camp situated at the base of the park management team. Here guests can enjoy both self-drive activities in the Bangweulu Wetlands – we also organize privately guided tours to the area. The camp has local guides who lead walks and canoe trails around the area. There are however, rumours of developing a tourist resort and having a cruise boat for hire.
WHEN TO VISIT BANGWEULU WETLANDS
The rainy season period from November to March is a great time for the phenomenal birdlife in the area. All trips in and around the swamps at this time of the year are by boat – the area is flooded and so wet that vehicles cannot be driven at all.
The floodplains dry up to allow for 4 x 4 vehicle usage from sometime around mid to late April. From this time, it is possible to drive around some areas of the Bangweulu Wetlands and guests have an opportunity to see the black lechwe at close range.
By June, much of the floodplain is dry and the lechwe move closer to the permanent swamp and the site of Shoebill Camp. During this time, it becomes possible to take walks in the area and experience the strange sensation of walking on the floating mats of vegentation which grow on the surface of water. There is still a great number of birds in the area at this time of the year, making it a great destination for keen birders.
August and September is a great time to visit the Wetlands as it is the best time to explore the area in search of the rare Shoebill Stork.
GETTING TO BANGWEULU WETLANDS
The common way of getting our clients to Bangweulu Wetlands is by 4 x 4 vehicles. Most of our clients booked into the area are accompanied by a driver who drives them to the place from Lusaka or other nearby destinations such as Kasanka.
A private charter flight can also be arranged from Lusaka to take the clients to Bangweulu Swamps and back to Lusaka.
WILDLIFE OF BANGWEULU WETLANDS
One of the best reasons for visiting this great watery wilderness destination is the remarkable experience of this infinite flat expanse. The views to then horizon seem endless and you can imagine that one can almost see the curve of the planet. The birdlife in the area is another great attraction as well as the sight of thousands of endemic black lechwe, which is really unforgettable.
The shallow waters in the summer months provide an ideal ground for huge numbers of indigenous birds as well as numerous summer migrants, which arrive from the length of Africa to winter-over in the swamps. White and pink backed pelicans, wattled cranes, white storks, saddle billed storks, spoonbills and ibises in flocks of hundreds as well as many species of the smaller waders, are a common but dramatic sight. The waters are also rich in small fish, shrimps and snails.
One of the most rare and elusive birds in Africa, the shoebill, favours the Bangweulu Swamps and during the months following rains, this strange looking bird can be regularly seen on the fringe between the permanent swamps and the floodplain.
The floodplains is simply home to a variety of bird species too numerous to mention. With wetlands, grasslands and woodlands in such close proximity, a great diversity of birds can be seen in a relatively small area and to date, nearly 400 species have been recorded in the area.
Also unique to the floodplains of Bangweulu Swamps is the water loving black lechwe, which can gather in herds of up to 10 000, as the floodwaters recede during the year. Other animals that you are likely to see in Bangweulu include sitatunga, Oribi, Tsessebe, common duiker and reedbuck. Less common species of animals to see also are vervet monkeys, as well as nocturnal mammals such as mongooses and bushpigs.
Although rarely seen, leopards do exist while sounds of hyenas and jackals are often heard in the night and occasionally encountered on night drives.
Later in the year when the flood waters recede, buffalo and elephant move into the area to feed on the abundant grass. Numerous crocodiles and hippos are also found in the permanent water channels.