This suggested itinerary is designed to combine Kasanka's amazing annual mat migration with time on safari in the national parks of Zambia and Malawi.
An estimated 12 million fruitbats arrive in Kasanka National Park from mid-November to feast on the newly ripened fruit - a remarkable wildlife spectacle. Guided walks in Kasanka National Park at dawn and dusk will take you deep into the indigenous woodland used by the fruitbats as a roost. The numbers are so large that this is believed to be the highest density of mammals on the planet. This mass of activity attracts all manner of predators and scavengers including leopards and crocodiles who lie in wait for any bats unfortunate enough to fall to the forest floor.
Your next destination on this 2-week itinerary is South Luangwa National Park, known for its large population of leopards and for a number of endemic animals, including Thornicraft’s giraffe and Cookson’s wildebeest. Finally, the trip crosses the border into Malawi to explore the incredible Majete National Park. Majete was decimated by poaching for decades, but over the last ten years extensive conservation efforts have allowed this park to become the only reserve in Malawi to have the ‘Big 5'; notably this will give you the chance to see the elusive black rhino.
Day1: Depart UK
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Lusaka
Day2: Arrive Lusaka
On arrival in Lusaka you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to spend as you wish, which could involve a swim in the hotel pool.
Accommodation: Pioneer Lodge & Camp
Days3-5: Fly to Mulembo for Kasanka National Park
In the morning, board a charter flight from Lusaka to Mulembo airstrip where you will be transferred to your camp on the edges of the Kasanka National Park. After settling in, there should be time to venture into the park on an afternoon wildlife safari, which will finish with the quintessential safari sundowner.
Over the next two days, you will have a number of excursions into Kasanka National Park, both on foot and by vehicle to see one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world - the sight of an estimated 12 million straw-coloured fruitbats coming to feed on the newly ripened fruits and roost in the indigenous forest. This attracts a number of predators and scavengers as well, including leopards, martial eagles, African hawk-eagles and crocodiles. Other notable species to look out for in Kasanka are sitatunga, Pel’s fishing owl and the rare blue monkey.
Days6-8: Fly to Mfuwe; explore South Luangwa National Park
Another morning charter flight will take you to Mfuwe airstrip where you will be transferred to your next camp, with stunning views of the South Luangwa National Park. After lunch you will be taken on a wildlife safari into the park.
The following two days will involve various excursions. Set out on foot to enjoy the birdlife of the park, including marabou stork, steppe eagle and crowned cranes. There will also be boat trips along the river to see some the water-loving creatures, such as crocodiles and hippos, and more vehicle safaris to try and see as much of this incredible national park as possible.
Days9-11: Fly to Blantyre, Malawi & drive to Majete National Park
Today, you will be crossing the border into Malawi on a charter flight bound for Blantyre and then transfer to your lodge on the banks of the Shire River in the Majete National Park.
Majete offers the first opportunity on our trip to see the black rhino, as well as leopards, lions, elephants and buffalo. Majete has an array of wildlife and a beautiful landscape; in order to explore this wonderful wilderness you will head out on vehicle and walking safaris for two full days.
It might be one of Zambia's smallest parks, but Kasanka is packed full of different habitats with miombo woodland, riverine forest and papyrus swamps being just a few. Picturesque and peaceful, the birdlife here is exceptional and each year the park plays host to the migration of over ten million bats.
Where: Central Province
Ideal for viewing: blue monkey, sitatunga, straw-coloured fruit bat, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, wattled crane
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris, River safaris, Birdwatching
Comprising some 9,050 square kilometres of unspoilt African wilderness, South Luangwa is undoubtedly the jewel of Zambia’s national parks and a magnet to outstanding wildlife, particularly leopard. Its eastern boundary is the meandering Luangwa River whose regular changes in course leave scenic oxbow lagoons.
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Wildlife Art Safaris, Vehicle safaris, Walking with wildlife
Standing beside the Shire River in the south west of Malawi, this area of the Great Rift Valley is characterised by sculpted miombo woodland undulating across the hills, which in turn overlook stunning river valleys and riverine forest. It is surprising then that so few decide to travel to this natural treasure.
Where: Southern Region
Ideal for viewing: black rhino, African elephant, Burchell’s zebra, leopard, Cape buffalo
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris
Starting life as a village, Zambia’s capital city was expanded by colonial settlers and is now very much the beating heart of the country. With vibrant market stalls and tree-lined boulevards, it offers an authentic African experience as well as a variety of good quality accommodation and a cosmopolitan sensibility.
Where: Southern region of the Central plateau
Excellent for: City stopover
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
The perfect combination of luxury and isolation, Mkulumadzi is located on a private concession beside the Shire River. Eight spacious chalets, shaded by giant mango trees, have a deck, sunken bath and outside shower. The lodge offers vehicle, walking and boat safaris in Majete Reserve.
Located on private land just outside South Luangwa National Park, this lodge lies in an area of ebony woodland and open grassland that is superb for wildlife viewing. It consists of six cool and spacious chalets - including one for a family - built from woven bamboo with stone floors and thatched roofs.
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.