Starting just 50 kms to the North of Kasanka are the vast Bangweulu Wetlands. The area is divided into 3 main habitats, open water to the North West, huge swamps in the middle and around the southern and eastern fringes, seasonally flooded grass plains.
Bangweulu is a local word meaning “where the water meets the sky” reflecting the vast, seasonally inundated stretches of untouched wilderness. Covering an area of 6000 km2 the broader Bangweulu system includes Lake Bangweulu and other adjoining smaller lakes, floodplains and swamps, termitaria woodlands and extensive areas of pristine Miombo woodland to be found adjacent to the seasonally flooded grassland. The Bangweulu Wetlands project is managed through a partnership between African Parks, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and six Chiefdoms in who’s territories the park is situated.
It is particularly the seasonally flooded grass plains and the swampy Lukulu River flowing through it which are of interest to visitors. They support an incredible diversity of water-birds and plains-birds including the Shoebill and home to massive herds of the Black Lechwe (there are over 100 000 Lechwe in the Park), and attractive species found only in the Bangweulu. Elephant, Buffalo, Tsessebe, Reedbuck, Oribi and Sitatunga are also adapted to life in this wetland environment. You don’t have to be a birding fanatic to love Bangweulu, however the area is a great draw for birdwatchers with over 400 different species including Waterfowl, 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.
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 remaining in the world to see Shoebills in the wild, and at the right time of year, no visitor leaves disappointed. The main season is from May to August when Shoebills can usually be seen on canoe trips. September to November offers great birding (though maybe no Shoebill sightings) and the same amazing mammal spectacles.