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The wildlife in Kasanka has specialist species including sitatunga, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, grysbok, yellowbacked duiker and blue monkey. It is also the site to one of greatest wildlife spectacles in Africa when over ten million straw-coloured fruitbats descend on the park.

This phenomenon happens from mid-October to December coinciding with the start of the rainy season, which ripens the local fruits and berries, such as masuku, waterberry and mufinsa. All the bats choose to roost in a large patch of indigenous woodland (locally known as 'mshitu' or swamp forest) and this creates what is believed to be the highest density of mammals on the planet.

This huge gathering of fruitbats attracts various other predators and scavengers who end up having a rather bat-based diet for a couple of months. Life isn’t particularly easy for the bats with African hawk eagles, martial eagles, hobby falcons and kites being just some of the raptors that venture into the roost. Furthermore, there are leopards, crocodiles and water monitors waiting for those bats that are unlucky enough to fall to the forest floor.

The birdlife is also exceptional with nearly 400 species. Some of the highlights are the rare Pel’s fishing owl, wattled crane and Ross’ lourie. All of these birds attract small predators, such as civet, caracal and honey badger sneaking in the long grass. Kasanka is a particularly good place to visit between March and June when the rains have stopped but the towering cumulo-nimbus clouds, lush greenery and fairly high water level make for superb photographic opportunities.

The habitat here is mixed – miombo woodland, riverine forest and papyrus swamps, together with lakes, lagoons, plains, dambos and marshes.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: blue monkey, sitatunga, straw-coloured fruit bat, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, wattled crane, Pel’s fishing owl, yellow-backed duiker
  • Where: Central Province, Zambia

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Bats, Rhinos & Reptiles

Kasanka National Park plays hosts to a remarkable annual wildlife spectacle; from mid-November onwards an estimated 12 million fruitbats arrive. Guided walks will take you to witness this marvellous spectacle, and will be combined with time on safari in the national parks of Zambia and Malawi.

  • When to go: Nov-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,345 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Batty about Kasanka

Every November and December, millions of fruit bats take up residence in Kasanka National Park - witness this incredible sight while staying in a comfortable tented camp near the renowned Fibwe Hide. The trip also includes time in South Luangwa where walking safaris and night drives are a highlight.

  • When to go: Nov-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,895 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Luangwa & a Blizzard of Bats

Brush up your photography skills with wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt and witness the extraordinary annual event of millions of fruit bats roosting in Kasanka National Park. You can also expect to encounter prolific wildlife in South Luangwa, including elephant, spotted hyena, hippo and lion.

  • When to go: Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,195 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Shoebills, Lechwe & Luangwa

If you are a connoisseur who yearns for untouched wilderness, this is the safari for you! Zambia's vast Bangweulu wetland is home to over 30,000 black lechwe and the highly endangered shoebill, and Kasanka famously has over 400 bird species, including the rare Pel’s fishing owl.

  • When to go: Mar-Jun
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Wasa Lodge

Wasa Lodge is a well-maintained, rustic but comfortable camp, overlooking the blue waters of Lake Wasa in the eastern part of Kasanka National Park. It is close to a sitatunga hide and swamp forest and offers excellent walking trails, as well as safaris by canoe and four-wheel drive.