Rugged Zambia: Check this bats migration and rare shoebill stork spotting off your bushwhacking list

2018-08-03 12:09 - In Partnership with Bhejane
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A 4x4 adventure to the remote part of Zambia showc

  • Where: Zambia Bats & Bills Adventure 
  • When:  16 – 29 November 2018
  • What: 14 nights / 15 days adventure (tented accommodation)
  • Cost: R22 950 (ex vat) per person (children under 10 years @ 50%)
  • Limited: 8 Vehicles only / 16 pax max

The Adventure

Bats and Bills was developed as a partnership between Bhejane Adventures and specialist guide, Cronje Wessels as 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 and 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.

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 will 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 between October and December and is witness to 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!

TRAVEL PLANNING: Quick Guide to Zambia: Visa-free travel for South Africans
 

The Team

Your tour leader is a specialist nature conservationist and adventure guide. He will be in radio contact with you all the time in order that he is able to impart a wealth of biological, cultural, historic and four-wheel drive knowledge.

Three meals a day will be prepared by our experienced bush chef in his mobile kitchen, with fresh salads, potjiekos, braais and many other surprises appearing on the menu. The good old “koffie pot” will be on the fire from four o’clock till late.  Our logistics crew will pitch and take down the camps at all the overnight stops we visit. Tents, cutlery and crockery are also provided by Bhejane Adventures.

This is a true adventure trip with lots of off road driving, but the Bhejane crew do have the “know how” and recovery equipment to assist with off-road problems.

Though our bush-camps will be interesting and rustic, you will always be safe, the crew will spare no effort to make you comfortable, provide you with good wholesome food and, most importantly, see that you have a good time.

Bhejane supplies/provides 

  •  Specialist Guide and crew
  • All camp fees
  • All park entrance fees
  • All advertised activities
  • Bhejane Adventures provides all the tents, cutlery and crockery
  • Coffee & Tea – all day every day whilst in camp

What you need to bring/provide 

  • Your vehicle & fuel
  • Your own mattresses and/or stretcher and sleeping bags and pillows
  • Your own fold-up chairs
  • Your own drinks and in-between snacks
  • Your own out of country / medical emergency and evacuation insurance cover
  • Your own border crossing fees and road taxes

SEE: Zambia to Malawi: An #AfriTravel camping adventure 

The Adventure Itinerary

Night 1:  Nkwazi Camp, Livingstone

We meet just outside Livingstone at Camp Nkwazi, our camp for this first night.   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 by the time you arrive, your tents would have been pitched and our bush chef will be preparing the first of the culinary delights you will be enjoying on this safari.

For those of you who arrive early (and who are avid anglers), there is excellent Bream and Tiger Fishing as optional activities (speak to Nkwazi Reception to arrange).

The evening will be spent socialising around the fire and getting to know each other as the sun sets.  During the course of the evening, the Bhejane guide will elaborate on the adventure that starts the next day.

A 4x4 adventure to the remote part of Zambia showc

(Photo: Bhejane Adventures)

Night 2: Eureka Camp, Lusaka

Making an early start after a hearty breakfast, and after you have all been issued with two-way hand-held radios, we take to the road and leave for Lusaka. 

Driving over 500kms we will reach Lusaka in the afternoon. Our campsite is at Eureka campgrounds, 15 minutes outside Lusaka, set in beautifully shaded natural surroundings.  Eureka boasts high quality, clean and comfortable camping with lovely clean showers and hot running water and for those of you needing to kick your shoes off and cool down, there is a swimming pool!

This evening, dinner is spent around the campfire enjoying one of many delicious meals prepared by our bush chef – don’t be surprised by the occasional visit of a giraffe or zebra who are known to frequent this lovely campsite

Night 3: Forest Inn Camp, 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.  (You need to carry an additional 20L of fuel on this trip)

Conveniently situated alongside the Great North Road, Forest Inn Camp is a sanctuary within 160 hectares of protected indigenous forest and 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.

Night 4: Kabwe Camp, Kasanka

This morning we breakfast early, pack up and leave for Kasanka National Park, our first day in this beautiful national park.

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.  Kabwe 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 Bhejane 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.

Night 5 & 6: Pontoon Camp, Kasanka

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 1.  Arrival at Pontoon 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.

A 4x4 adventure to the remote part of Zambia showc

(Photo: Bhejane Adventures)

During our two 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).

Night 7, 8, 9, 10: Nsobe Camp

Day seven begins with an early morning departure after breakfast, as we exit Kasanka National Park and make our way north east to the world-renowned Bangweulu Wetlands.  Bangweulu is a designated Ramsar Convention Site recognized as one of the most important wetlands in the world.  We will spend four nights at Nsobe Camp where we will be able to enjoy the peace and serenity of the African bush and during the next four days, we will enjoy guided bird walks, explore the park on our own, and paddle in mokoros in our search for the elusive Shoebills.  (All activities at Nsobe Camp are included in the tour price)

A 4x4 adventure to the remote part of Zambia showc

(Photo: Bhejane Adventures)

Night 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 rustic but set against a perfect 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.

Night 12: Forest Inn, Mkushi

Sunrise over the beautiful Luangwa Valley followed by another hearty breakfast before we hike down to the falls and swim in the icy cold water of Kundalila are on the program this morning.  As we make our way back to camp where we will enjoy a light lunch before heading back down the Great North Road, 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.

Night 13: Eureka Camp, Lusaka

It is a long drive back to Lusaka along the tarred Great North Road and Eureka Camp where we can enjoy nice hot showers and an ice cold beer out of the heat in our shaded campsite

Night 14: Nkwazi Camp, Livingstone

We pack up camp and leave Lusaka after breakfast - our destination, the beautiful Nkwazi Camp.

Where better to enjoy our final dinner than around the 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 Bhejane breakfast, it is time to say goodbye.

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

IF YOU PLAN ON GOING:

  • Where: Zambia Bats & Bills Adventure 
  • When:  16 – 29 November 2018
  • What: 14 nights / 15 days adventure (tented accommodation)
  • Cost: R22 950 (ex vat) per person (children under 10 years @ 50%)
  • Limited: 8 Vehicles only / 16 pax max 

SEE: PICS: Rare 'twin' hippos born at Zambia's famous Mfuwe Lodge

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