Kasanka is a small park of 420 sq km. If it was a square it would be 20 km x 20 km. This makes it an easy park to get around without getting lost! It is open throughout the year but during the rainy season some of the roads get a bit boggy, so ask for road conditions if you travel between November and May.
The park has been managed, since 1990, between the Kasanka Trust, the Zambian government and the community. This was the first park in Zambia to become a public-private partnership and has become a model for wildlife conservation in Zambia.
- The Wild Stuff
The park is mostly flat with rivers on its borders; marshes and small lakes within. Most of the landscape is open forest, known as miombo, with riverine forests along the rivers. The tallest tree in the park is near the Bufumu campsite and is within the bufumu forest. Bufumu is the local name for the Wooden Banana (Entandrophragma caudatum). Another tree, the Wild loquat (Oxyanthus speciosus) is a big attraction for the bats.
Kasanka’s main claim to fame is its Bat Migration. This is the largest mammal migration in the world when millions of Straw-Coloured fruit bats visit the park to feed on the fruit trees. The bats arrive normally in October and will stay in the park until mid-December. The park does get very busy at this time, so book early.
Other mammals in the park are puku, hartebeest, reedbuck, waterbuck, roan, sable, oribi, elephant lechwe, sitatunga, zebra and buffalo. Predators include caracal, jackal, lion, leopard, civet and genet.
There is a bird list of over 400 species and as the park has plenty of water, there are many waterbirds – storks, geese, ducks and cranes. The Shoebill stork is not found in the park but Kasanka is organising a day trip to see them in Bangweulu.
There are two small lodges and five campsites in Kasanka. Wasa Lodge has seven chalets and Luwombwa Lodge has three. The campsites – Pontoon (three sites), Bufumu and Kabwe are spread around the park.
The Kasanka Trust was established in 1987 with the sole aim of saving Kasanka National Park. By 1990 they had persuaded ZamParks to join them in the management of the park and together they worked to protect the remaining wildlife and the habitat which supports them. This dual arrangement of ZamParks and an NGO was a first for Zambia but it heralded a way forward for the Zambian government to protect wildlife estates.
To find out more:
The route map shows the road from Lusaka to Kasanka. The road is good tar all the way to the turnoff to the park. From then on it is gravel.
A good place to have a pit-stop is in Mkushi. Forest Inn, just southwest of Mkushi is recommended.
The last fuel is in Serenje, so fill up there.