Kasanka National Park is a beautiful wilderness of woodland, plains, lakes, rivers, swamps rich in Zambian wildlife. As well as its attraction for visitors it forms a valuable protected environment for many endangered species. The Bangweulu Wetlands, just north of Kasanka National Park, is one of Africa's most spectacular wildlife secrets with over 100,000 Black Lechwe and the world's most visible Shoebill storks.
The Zambian Kasanka Trust has responsibility for park management, community development, and tourism under the terms of the management agreement with the Zambian Government. The Kasanka Trusts in the UK and The Netherlands are registered charities, both with a board of trustees. They are primarily concerned with fund-raising for activities in Zambia. They also assist with expert advice and procurement of equipment.
In 1985, a British expatriate, David Lloyd, who had lived in Zambia on and off for many years, visited Kasanka National Park. There were no roads or bridges, but he was impressed with the beautiful habitat he found and decided to try and save the Park from complete destruction and the threat of losing its National Park status. Teaming up with a local farmer, Gary Williams, they formed the Kasanka Trust, which was registered in Zambia (1987) and in UK (1989).
Since 1990, the Zambian Government has encouraged and supported the Kasanka Trust initiative, emphasising the importance of co-operation with the local community which has always been central to the Trust's philosophy.
After the first agreement in 1990, the Zambia Wildlife Authority signed a second agreement with Kasanka Trust in May 2002 allowing the Trust to manage the Park and develop tourism to help fund its activities. In June 2002 David Lloyd was awarded an OBE in the UK for his vision and determination in seeing the Kasanka Trust project through to where it is today.
Aims and Objectives
The ultimate goals of Kasanka Trust are to secure the future of biodiversity in Kasanka National Park, funded through tourism revenue and to sustain, as well as stimulate, the local economy through improved natural resource management.
The Trust is keen to expand its area of influence, specifically to assist in the management of the Bangweulu Wetlands and Lavushi Manda National Park.
Open Africa, which supports community tourism, recently launched a new route for independent travellers interested in traditional culture and nature, to be promoted and maintained by community stakeholders.
The Nsobe Sitatunga Experience 'Where The Water Meets The Sky' covers Kasanka National Park, Bangweulu Wetlands, Nakapalayo and other destinations in Northern Zambia. Kasanka Trust actively seeks support from the local community to secure the long term future of Kasanka National Park.
By using education as a basic tool, Kasanka Trust is seeking to increase the community's awareness of conservation and promote economic development.
With the support of the Zambian Ministry of Education, Kasanka Trust has set up a project to aid education in Kafinda Game Management Area. The project is funded by external donations. Kasanka Trust has also sponsored 50 pupils through secondary school and nine teachers for the Community Schools. They have rehabilitated the classroom blocks and teachers' houses of three local Government Schools.
The Education Project continues to expand, sponsoring a growing number of students and introducing a number of new conservation education initiatives.
The World Bank's Global Environment Fund provided a grant for a feasibility study of the expansion of Kasanka Trust Management to Lavushi Manda National Park. Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund helped Kasanka Trust to improve the protection of the bat forest and promote awareness of the importance of Kasanka's bat roost through their education program. Tusk Trust provided valuable core funding for Kasanka's conservation activities.
They also sponsored the solar system for their headquarters. Holly Hill Trust has been a long term sponsor supporting the Kasanka education project. There has been a lot of other support from many other donors. Corporate Sponsors are eligible for a tax reduction in Zambia.
Other benefits for corporate sponsors include increased exposure, discounted rates, offset the companies contribution to climate change and pollution, an environmentally friendly and socially responsible image.
The Kasanka Trust is keen to hear of any ideas for corporate sponsorship or funding of their conservation and community development activities.
Kasanka Trust information
Zambia wildlife in Kasanka
Several rare species of Zambia wildlife are abundant in the park, including sitatunga, wattled crane, Ross's lourie and blue monkeys. The Bangweulu Wetlands area, just north of Kasanka National Park, is one of Africa's most spectacular wildlife secrets with over 100,000 black lechwe and the world's most visible shoebill storks.
All in all it's a very rewarding destination for those seeking to delve deeper into Africa's hidden corners and more elusive wildlife. Puku are the dominant animals in the park, feeding off the rich grasses along the Kasanka river and Wasa lakes.
The rivers and lakes are habitat for hippos, crocodiles, otters and monitor lizards, as well as all kinds of fish. The Luwombwa River offers some excellent angling (under special permits). The fierce tigerfish, several tilapia species and barbal catfish are likely catches, and lodge staff will willingly cook the catch.
Canoes and motorboats can be hired with guides. Perhaps Kasanka's crown jewels are the papyrus swamp areas, home to the world's densest and most visible population of sitatunga antelope.
Roaming across all these habitats are a small but growing population of elephants. And side-striped jackal, civet, genet, porcupine and several species of mongoose are amongst the nocturnal species. Birds of special interest include Pel's fishing owl, wattled crane, osprey, African fish eagle and Ross's lourie. Saddle-billed storks, several species of bee-eater, kingfisher and hornbill are also regularly seen.
Kasanka is rapidly becoming famous for the millions of the straw-coloured fruit bats that congregate there in their millions in November and December each year. This makes an inspiring Zambia safari experience. At twilight bats fill the sky from all directions for up to twenty minutes as they leave their roost site to feed throughout the night on the abundant seasonal fruit of the "miombo" woodlands.
This event is one of Africa's most amazing and unusual wildlife spectacles – never to be forgotten for those fortunate to witness it. Scientists believe it is the largest aggregation of mammals in Africa, and probably the most concentrated in the world. See the article on the Kasanka bats in Travel Zambia Extra.
Visitors arriving in their own 4×4 vehicles can drive themselves around but there are some restrictions for safety reasons. Walking safaris are accompanied by an armed scout who is knowledgeable on the wildlife and vegetation and in short wave radio contact with HQ.
Follow a honey guide to a bee's nest or track an elephant along its spore. Walks can be arranged from 1 hour to five days! Walking trails of several days are a specialty of Kasanka.
One day of the trail is usually spent drifting down the Luwombwa river by canoe. Zambia safaris don't get much better than this! One or two nights may be spent at the lodges, but otherwise simple tented camps will be set up each night in remote corners of the park. It is possible for visitors to explore the park by bicycle. However visitors must be escorted by a guide or scout.
Just 50 Kilometres to the north of Kasanka are the vast Bangweulu Wetlands. These wetlands support an incredible diversity of water-birds and plains-birds including the shoebill stork, and massive herds of the black lechwe. Elephant, buffalo, tsessebe, reedbuck, oribi and sitatunga have also adapted to life in this environment.
Bangweulu is a great draw for birdwatchers. Wattled crane, saddle-billed stork, spur-winged goose, sacred ibis, glossy ibis, black-crowned night heron, white-cheeked bee-eater, swamp flycatcher, pink- throated and Fulbourne's longclaw, Denham's bustard and numerous ducks live here.
The papyrus swamps along the Lukulu River are also the breeding ground of the shoebill, a massive grey, do-do like bird found nowhere else in the sub-region. Bangweulu is probably the best place in the world to see shoebill storks in the wild.
Shoebill Island Camp
A trip to Shoebill is highly recommended in addition to Kasanka. The island has panoramic views over the swamps and gets its name from the shoebill storks which are usually found close to the camp. Boating can be arranged in banana boats or dugout canoes. The main season is from March to August when shoebill storks can usually be seen on canoe trips.
Most visitors coming from overseas choose to fly directly into Kasanka by private charter as there is an airstrip in the park (12deg 33'South 30deg 09'East) and an aircraft based there. Kasanka Trust can arrange air charters from anywhere in Zambia.
Sky Trails Ltd is an independent charter company based in Kasanka National Park so that there is usually an aircraft available locally for air charters to, from and around the area. Driving times from Lusaka or the Copperbelt are typically five to six hours. The roads are tarred up to the park entrance and are currently in excellent condition.
Nakapalyo Tourism Project, Kundalila Falls, Lake Waka Waka, Nsalu Cave, Livingstone Memorial, Lavushi Manda National Park, Shiwa Ng'andu, Kapishya Hot Springs and Mutinondo Wilderness are all quite close to Kasanka.
Zambia wildlife in Kasanka
The Kasanka Trust is a wildlife charity working to conserve, manage and develop Kasanka National Park in the Northern Region of Zambia. As well as its attraction for visitors it forms a valuable protected area for many endangered species and is an important conservation area with diverse flora and fauna, and exceptional birdlife.
Kasanka is Zambia's first national park under private management and is entirely reliant on tourism revenue and charitable funding. All proceeds from tourism go directly towards conservation work in the area.
Wasa Lodge lies on the edge of Lake Wasa in the eastern half of the park just 12 Kilometers from the park entrance at the tarred road. It is ideally suited for visiting the hide at Fibwe (just 15 minutes drive or 2 hours walk away) and has a fine view with puku, hippo and sometimes even sitatunga visible from the lodge.
During 2002 building work was completed on three new rondavels. Each has a double and a single bed, en-suite bathroom and private verandah. Lighting is provided by solar power. Additional safari accommodation is available in six simpler chalets with separate facilities.
The lodge also has a new main building housing a bar, dining room, reception and verandah overlooking the lake. All the buildings have thatched roofs and are in a traditional style. Luwombwa Lodge is located on the banks of the Luwombwa River in the western half of the park nearer the airstrip. This safari lodge has recently been upgraded with the addition of new en-suite chalets overlooking the river. Some of these are family chalets with four beds. Other chalets with separate bathrooms are also available.
The prime attraction of Luwombwa Lodge is the river. The Luwombwa is a gentle meandering stream heavily fringed with evergreen forest, creating excellent bird watching and fishing opportunities. Motor boats and canoes with guides are available at the lodge. Luwombwa also has nearby gameviewing, noteably at the Chikufwe Plain where the airstrip is located, and reedbuck, duikers, lichenstein's hartebeast and sable antelope are often seen.
Shoebill Island Camp offers accommodation in safari tents under thatched roofs and reed cottages. Each tent has two beds, an en-suite shower and flush toilet.
The island has panoramic views over the swamps. It gets its name from the Shoebill storks which are usually found close to the camp. Boating can be arranged in banana boats or dugout canoes. Shoebill Island camp is managed by the Kasanka Trust.
There are currently three campsites available for visitors in Kasanka, one near the pontoon along the Kasanka River, another downstream across the Kasanka at "Kabwe" and the other at "Fibwe", near to the hide. The availability of these sites depends on conditions and bookings so please enquire before arriving.
Campers should bring all their own tents and equipment, as the sites only have a simple toilet, shower and shelter. Staff are on hand to help with water.
The prices given on the right are a guide for both Kasanka Lodges and Shoebill Island in Bangweulu Wetlands. The rates are all per person per night. Park Entry Fees for persons, vehicles and private aircraft are excluded except for full board. There are some discounts for children and Zambian residents for full board services.
Kasanka National Park is open all year. Visitors wishing to book can do so through the Zambezi Safari and Travel Company, Expert Africa or directly with Kasanka Trust.
Safari lodge accommodation
Accommodation rates per person per night
The Kasanka Trust is a wildlife charity based in Zambia, the UK and the Netherlands. A visit to Kasanka often combines very well with a visit to Shoebill Island Camp in the Bangweulu Wetlands, and other destinations within Zambia. As well as arranging your stay in Kasanka and Shoebill and safari experience there, the Trust is well placed to organise a complete Zambian tour with all the transfers, connections and accommodation. Charter flights operated by Sky Trails are available between all destinations in Zambia and beyond.
For more information or to make a booking, contact Kasanka Trust by email, or contact them directly to organize your itinerary or recommend other agents. The destinations given below fit in well together as a fulfilling Zambia tour. Some can be visited on day outings or en route between camps in Kasanka, whilst others are destinations in their own right.
Kasanka National Park
This park is one of the most picturesque parks in Zambia and contains a rich diversity of Zambia wildlife, bird and plant life, making it an exciting Zambia safari destination. Several rare species are abundant in the park, including sitatunga, wattled crane, Ross's lourie and blue monkeys. Kasanka is also host to a unique, spectacular congregation of several million straw-coloured fruit bats every November and December.
Just 50 Kilometers to the north of Kasanka are the vast Bangweulu Wetlands that support massive herds of black lechwe, elephant, buffalo and sitatunga. Bangweulu is a great draw for birdwatchers, with wattled crane, spur-winged goose and numerous ducks. The shoebill stork, a massive grey, do-do like bird unique to Bangweulu is often visible from Shoebill Island Camp. This destination makes for a peaceful Zambia safari destination.
Nakapalyo Tourism Project
Immerse yourself in the rich culture and way of life of the Bisa people by visiting a real, traditional Zambian village. This is a community managed project that provides tourists with an authentic experience to promote cultural exchange and bring development, employment and income to the community.
The spectacular Kundalila (Crying Dove) Falls can be reached in just over an hour by car from Kasanka. The falls lie in an area of outstanding natural beauty. A path leads down to the foot of the falls where a deep pool receives the water from its 65-meter fall. Visitors can swim in this pool if they like chilly water!
Lake Waka Waka
Located an hour's drive from Kasanka National Park, this lake offers a secluded site for an overnight stop or getaway. The spring-fed lake's crystalline waters are crocodile free and wonderful for a refreshing swim.
This National Monument is sadly neglected but is still worth a visit to view Stone Age Man's "schematic" rock paintings. There are none of the figures of animals and people usually associated with Bushman paintings but lines and "ladders" and other unexplained outlines, said by some to be up to 100,000 years old.
This marks the spot where the 19th century explorer died in his fruitless quest for the source of the Nile River. The monument, located an easy 35 Kilometer drive from Kasanka, is built on the site of the 'mupundu' wild fruit tree under which Dr. Livingstone's heart was buried.
Shiwa Ng'andu and Kapishya Hot Springs
After visiting Kasanka and Bangweulu, "The Africa House" makes an ideal next stop on the way north. It was built deep in the African Bush by Sir Stuart Gore-Browne in the 1920s. Visitors can explore the estate on horseback. Visit the Kapishya Hot Springs 25 Kilometers north west of Shiwa for a rejuvenating bathing experience and some good birdwatching and walks.
To the east of Kasanka and Bangweulu, the Mutinondo Wilderness is an area under private management near the top of the great Muchinga escarpment – a beautiful wilderness area with rocky outcrops, rivers and streams, rolling woodlands and grassy dambos. It has a range of activities from walks, swimming and boating, birdwatching, and guided geological tours.
The Luangwa Valley
No trip to Zambia is complete without visiting the Luangwa Valley – one of Africa's greatest remaining wildlife areas which still preserves high densities of big game along with wide open spaces. It was one of the most exciting places you can go for a rich and rewarding safari experience. South Luangwa National Park combines wildlife and birds with no visible developments.
The park is huge, offering scenic beauty and wildlife experiences. North Luangwa National Park also offers some spectacular game viewing, specialising in walking safaris. The park management is assisted by a project from the Frankfurt Zoological Society which has controlled poaching and allowed the game to increase in recent decades.
Luambe National Park
Luambe National Park is a small park wedged between North and South Luangwa. It is a beautiful area with some good birdwatching and gameviewing. It makes an ideal stopover for adventurers driving between North and South Luangwa.
The last Kasanka Bicycle Challenge occurred on 30th April, 2017. This is a fun challenge with lots of excitement. Whether you are a racing snake and want to do the 52 km challenge, or a weekend cruiser happy to complete the 22 km intermediate race, there is something for everyone; even a kid's race. Watch out for the 2018 event. Kasanka Trust aims to draw more entries each year, so that the status of the race can grow nationally and even internationally in the near future.