Zambia | Bats & Bills

Bats and Bills is a Northern Zambia and Kasanka National Park adventure - this beautiful wilderness of woodland, plains, lakes, rivers and swamps is a valuable conservation area with diverse flora and fauna, many endangered species and exceptional birdlife.   

Our adventure takes us north through the National Park and into the Bangweulu Wetlands – a wetland ecosystem adjacent to Lake Bangweulu in north-eastern Zambia.

tour duration 15 Days
from €4,950
next trip 15 Nov 2022
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Starting in Livingstone and taking the Great North Route towards Serenje and up to Kasanka National Park, our adventure is located mostly within the Central and Northernmost provinces of Zambia – where the water quite literally, meets the sky.  Although one of the smallest national parks, Kasanka is home to a diverse population of mammals that includes buffalo, Burchill’s zebra, bushbuck, common tsessebe, elephant, hippo, hyenas, jackals & migrating lechwe amongst others.  It is however, in the dense papyrus swamps - often referred to as Kasanka’s crown jewels – that one of Kasanka’s most famous residents seeks refuge - the shy Sitatunga, Africa’s rarest and most aquatic antelope.

We adventure into the heart of Zambia and witness one of nature’s most jaw-dropping spectacles – the Kasanka Bat Migration where millions upon millions (quite literally) of straw coloured fruit bats migrate to Mushitu’s swamp forest in northernmost Kasanka.  This natural phenomenon takes place every year and is the greatest migration of mammals on earth.

From Kasanka we traverse north-east to the Bangweulu Wetlands in search of the elusive and rare shoebill stork.  Here we will also encounter vast herds of black lechwe, spectacular scenery and birding that is out of this world!

Included

All camp fees
All meals, cutlery and crockery
All park entrance fees
Camping Days, 3 meals a day
Camping sites with toilets and showers
Coffee & Tea – all day every day whilst in camp
Guide and Bush Chef
Rental vehicle with tent, bedding, fridge & chairs
Transfers to and from Airport

Excluded

International flights
Optional activities on route
Own Drinks
Your own border visas
Your own drinks and in-between snacks (we will stop and shop in town)
Your own medical emergency and evacuation insurance cover
Your own medicine and items of a personal nature

Tour Dates

15 Nov 2022 - 29 Nov 2022 - €4,950.00

Day 1: Arrival - Livingstone

Stepping on the tarmac of Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, one immediately feels the Zambian heat - our team is in the arrival lounge at the airport and after clearing customs, we are transferred to Camp Nkwazi, our camp for this first night.   After checkin at the Lodge the group meets at reception for a debrief and short introduction to our fleet of trusty 4 x 4's.

Our specialist guide and his crew have traversed the Central Zambian highways and byways for many years and as a result, understand the intricacies and customs of this country.  Our introduction affords us the time to get to know the group and the team and to understand the basic operating mechanics of our mobile homes for the next two weeks.  A relaxing evening and our first dinner together is shared under the stars

Set in shaded woodlands & nestling on the banks of the mighty Zambezi, Nkwazi is one of the finest campsites in Southern Africa (Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2015, 2016 & 2017) and for those of you who arrive early (and who are avid anglers), there is excellent Bream and Tiger Fishing as optional activities (this can be arranged directly with the Nkwazi Reception).

Day 2: Lusaka

This morning we make an early start after a hearty breakfast and take to the Great North Road to Lusaka. 

In Southern Zambia there are two Great North Roads, one going south-west and one going south-east.

The first one is the Lusaka–Livingstone road, which we will travel on today was part of the original Cape to Cairo Red Line made by Cecil Rhodes and is also known as the old route.  Driving over 500kms we reach Lusaka in the afternoon. Our campsite is on a Private Game Farm situated 15 minutes outside Lusaka and set in beautifully shaded natural surroundings.  Camp Eureka is a slightly rustic camp but the spacious grounds provide many shady camp sites with clean camping and hygenic showers with hot running water. 

After a leasurely shower, we enjoy a relaxed evening around the campfire, with dinner prepared by our chef in his mobile bush kitchen - one of the many delicious meals we will enjoy on the tour.

The campsite is grassy and flat and being on a Game Farm, is prone to visits by giraffe and zebra who are known to graze in the shaded areas and find respite under the cool trees.

Day 3: Mkushi

After an early breakfast, we pack up and head north to the town of Mkushi, and Forest Inn Camp where we will overnight.   Just outside Mkushi in the little town of Serenje, we will make our last fuel stop for the next eight days.  It is here that we will fill our jerry cans in preparation for the next leg of this adventure. 

Conveniently situated alongside the Great North Road, Forest Inn Camp is a sanctuary within 160 hectares of protected indigenous forest and is equidistant from Harare, Livingstone and the Tanzanian border!   After arriving in camp, we will be able to enjoy lovely hot showers followed by a refreshing drink and rounded off with one of our chefs scrumptious dinners around the campfire.

Day 4: Kasanka National Park

This morning we breakfast early, pack up our trusty 4x4's and head towards Kasanka National Park, and our first day in this peaceful sanctuary.  The park situated on the south western edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin, is one of Zambia's smallest national parks and an explorers paradise with unique wildlife and fantastic birding - it also plays host to the spectacular bat migration every November and December.  

Our campsite this evening is located in a remote and tranquil spot of this wild paradise at the edge of the rich floodplains of the Kasanka River, offering some of the best game viewing in the park.  Pontoon is a small campsite, quiet and peaceful with a beautiful setting overlooking a peaceful stretch of water, midway between the Bat Forest and Bufumu Forest and as a result, the wildlife and birding on offer, are a treat!  There is ample time to relax and enjoy the scenery today.

Kasanka Camp sites are small with simple toilets and showers.  There is no power outlet at the camp but you will be able to charge your camera & phone batteries through the crew's power source.  Heated water is provided by the camp attendants who will bring it to the ablution facility in buckets. 

This evening your guide will take you through what you can expect over the next few days before dinner is served around the campfire in this uniquely African setting.

Interesting fact: The park is privately managed by the Kasanka Trust working in collaboration with local communities to preserve this precious diversity.

Day 5: Kasanka National Park

This morning we rise and breakfast at a leisurely pace. We have the morning to enjoy the complete mix of wildlife and birding Kasanka has to offer before meeting at our next camp – Pontoon One.

Arrival at Pontoon One just before lunch shows this stunning location to be set in an evergreen forest overlooking a swamp clearing favored by Sitatunga. It is also in very close proximity to the Bat Forest and Fibwe Hide – our vantage point perched 18 metres high in an African Mahogany tree and perfect for observing both the shy Sitatunga in the early mornings and late afternoons and the Fruit bats at twilight as they leave their roost in the adjacent forest and fill the sky in all directions to feed at night. This is one of Africa’s most amazing and unusual wildlife spectacles and is never forgotten by those lucky enough to witness it.

Day 9: Bangweulu Wetlands

Bangweulu is a community-owned protected wetland, jointly managed by African Parks. The protected area is home to 50,000 people who retain the right to sustainably harvest natural resources from it. Collaborating on joint education programmes and community development projects that enhance local livlihoods in the preservation of the wetlands for both the good of people and its wildlife, Bangweulu’s resources are managed as the nucleus of a growing conservation-led economy.

Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky”, which is a perfect description of this extraordinary place and with over 400 bird species, including 10% of the world’s wattled crane population and the globally important population of the endangered shoebill stork, it also offers incredible photographic opportunites!

Day 10: Bangweulu Wetlands

Community Development is of the utmost importance in Bangweulu and the area's community programmes and enterprise development projects range from bee-keeping to fisheries management and impact more than 50,000 people living within the protected area. Additionally a Shoebill Nest Protection Plan was developed with support from local communities where local fishermen are employed as guards to protect shoebill nesting sites, preventing poachers from stealing eggs and chicks to feed the illegal wildlife trade. And this is just some of the extraordinary work being undertaken in this area to ensure Bangweulu continues to provide for generations to come.

For those wanting to visit the local villages and fishing camps to see sustainable livelihood programmes in action, such as traditional fishing methods and bee-keeping, this is available - just chat to your guide so he can arrange

 

Days 7: Bangweulu Wetlands

Today we make an early start after breakfast, leaving Kasanka behind us en route to Nosobe Camp in the Bangweulu Wetlands, a designated Ramsar Wetland Site and recognized as one of the most important wetlands in the world. The park is one of the best places to view the rare and prehistoric-looking shoebill as well as hundreds of other bird species.  

We exit Kasanka National Park and travel north east to Bangweulu and our camp which is located along the Chimbwe woodland on the edge of the swamps.  Nsobe is in the heart of the wetlands  and is the absolute best spot to enjoy birding, walks and to search for the elusive shoebill. It is possible to have herds of black lechwe just outside your tent each day.

Day 11: Kundalila Falls

This morning we have breakfast in camp and enjoy our last moments out in the remote Bangweulu Swamps of north eastern Zambia.  Following breakfast we pack up camp and set off to our next destination – a National World Heritage Site - Kundalila Waterfall. 

The drive to Kundalila is hot and dusty and camping this evening is very rustic and with limited facilities but the camp is set against a beautiful backdrop.  Our crew pitches the tents and prepares our dinner while we enjoy a cold drink and savor the memories of the days gone by.

Day 12: Forest Inn - Mkushi

This morning we enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the Luangwa Valley followed by another hearty breakfast before we hike down to the falls and swim in the icy cold water of Kundalila.  As we make our way back to camp, where we enjoy a light lunch before heading back down the Great North Road that takes us back to Forest Inn in the town of Mkushi – we are left with a feeling of tired happy contentment of the places we have visited and the memories we have made.

We refuel and head back 214kms towards civilization and our campsite at Forest Inn where our crew has pitched the tents and put the koffie pot on the fire.  Dinner this evening around the campfire is with new friends and shared experiences.

Day 13: Eureka Camp - Lusaka

It is a long drive back to Lusaka today as we take Great North Road - our destination is Eureka Camp once again where we can enjoy a welcome hot shower and an ice cold beer enjoyed out of the heat in our shaded campsite

An early dinner together is enjoyed around the campfire, our mobile homes parked behind us, dusty with the remnants of our adventure into Central and Northern Zamibia - an adventure that took us along the famed Cape-to-Cairo Highway or Pan-African Highway but as we know it - the Great North Road.

Day 14: Nkwazi Camp - Livingstone

We pack up camp and leave Lusaka after breakfast - our destination, the beautiful Nkwazi Camp just outside Livingstone and where better to enjoy our final dinner than around the camp fire listening to the snort of hippos and the cry of the fish eagle as we turn in for the night.

Day 15: Farewell

After a hearty breakfast, it is time to say goodbye.

Our transfer to Livingstone Airport arrives and for the last time, our Tour Leader coraals everyone together.  As we collect our belongings we cast a backward glance at our dusty mobile homes that bear the signs of our incredible (somewhat gritty) adventure through this landlocked country, its raw wilderness and abundant wildlife - our crew waves farewell, our adventure really has come to an end.

For some, the time has come too soon and for those wanting to squeeze in another day and simply delay going back – Nkwazi also affords the opportunity of visiting Vic Falls (a mere +- 20 minutes drive from Livingstone) or enjoying the host of activities that this phenomenal African adventure will leave you with.

Day 6: Kasanka National Park

During our three days at Pontoon Campsite, we are able to enjoy activities with local guides who take us to see the bats, birds and animals of this unique region. Hiking with the local guides enables us to gain real insight into this ecosystem and fully experience the wilderness of Kasanka while supporting the local communities of the area. This camp also offers visitors the option of biking (although limited in supply there are bikes for rental).

Day 8: Bangweulu Wetlands

We will spend four nights at Nsobe Camp, (our camp in Kasanka) where we will enjoy the peace and serenity of the African bush.  Nsobe offers community led guided bird walks, the opportunity to explore the park on your own, and to paddle in mokoros in our search of the elusive Shoebills. 

The guided Safari that takes us to the Shoe Bill is included in the tour price!

Answer

All visitors to Zambia require a passport valid for at least six months from arrival.
A number of countries either do not require a visa to visit Zambia, or may be issued one at their port of arrival.
For confirmation, it is advisable to check with the Zambia Immigration department: http://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm

Answer

The local currency is Zambian Kwacha (ZMW).
Many tourist destinations will accept US dollars, but change may be a problem if paying with large denomination notes. Try to have some small denomination ZMW notes for buying fresh produce and other supplies at local markets.

Answer

This tour starts and ends at Nkwazi Camp just outside Livingstone

Answer

Yellow Fever inoculation certificates are no longer a requirement for entry into or departure from Zambia. However, visitors travelling on to other countries in Africa are advised to contact their doctor at least eight weeks before travel for up-to-date advice on their vaccination requirements and other health precautions. We also suggest that travellers take appropriate medical insurance for their holiday.

Please note that Bangweulu is a malaria area. It is important to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellents, as well as by wearing long sleeves and trousers in the evenings and mornings. It is also advisable that visitors take prophylaxis medication prescribed by a doctor.

When it comes to drinking water, avoid drinking tap water unless it is boiled or filtered. Bottled water is widely available in Zambia

Answer

Yes, everyone will need to carry an additional 80L of fuel
Our last refuelling stop is at Serenje on Day 3 - after this we have 8 days with no chance to refuel!