In November 2012, I traveled with Jon and Keith, from the States, around Kafue NP and then up north to Kasanka to witness the famous bat migration. Jon and Keith are old friends with broad interests, so the focus of the trip was general with a moderate emphasis on birding.
Kafue is only 150km from Lusaka at its nearest point, which makes the transfer to the Park comfortably brief. Seeing as we carried all our food and equipment with us, we had our lunch in a shady spot and spent the afternoon driving around the Park, spotting elephants and several antelope species, and of course some good birds. We got into camp with just enough light left for us to comfortably set up for the night.
Day 2 saw us off on an early morning walk through the thickets and woodland near the camp, and along a very scenic stretch of the Kafue River with thick greenery, a lot of rocks and some curious hippos. We soon knuckled down to the business at hand, becoming absorbed in the birding, tracks, vegetation and insect life. The Kafue thickets are good for Red-throated Twinspot, Bearded and White-browed Scrub-robins, Barred Owlet and Trumpeter Hornbills. Along the river we had Little-spotted (Green-backed) Woodpecker, Black Sparrowhawk and Narina Trogon.
Next day we took a full day-trip into the Northern sector. As we turned off the main road we were immediately greeted by a sounder of Bushpigs alongside the road. These can be common in parts of the North, and will be active through the morning in areas where they are not threatened. Groups of oribi, kudu, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, zebra and impala are also frequently seen on the road west of the river. Our trip disclosed many highlights: Schalow’s Turaco, Lesser Grey Shrikes, Black-throated Wattle-eye, and an obliging otter which swam close-by us as we sat on the river bank eating lunch. On our return journey we crossed paths, but thankfully not swords, with a large herd of elephants and, later on, a pride of four lions, one of which had recently taken a severe bite to the face, either from another lion or from a crocodile.
But as we hit the main road again, the adventure was still far from over. On a hunch, I turned onto a loop which followed the east bank, and it paid off as I’d hoped: a young leopard, just beginning its evening, was slinking towards the River. A pair of Batleur Eagles graced a tree over our track, and just before we turned into camp, a sub-adult male lion sauntered into view.
On day 4 we headed south along the east bank towards our next campsite. The trip took a leisurely six hours with stops for birding, a brief bushwalk and lunch. Wattled Crane and Half-collared Kingfisher were the big ticks, and we saw plenty of warthogs, waterbuck, baboons, bushbuck and impala. Aside from all this the scenery along the river was fantastic. That evening, after relaxing a while in camp we took a short night drive, finding an abundance of lesser and greater bushbabies and a completely black genet!
We decided, next morning, to take a walk exploring the hills and pools to the east of the camp. The walk took about five hours and we found Mocking Cliff-chat and Crowned Eagle in the hills, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Racket-tailed Roller in the woodlands. On the night-drive we came up with a pair of mating white-tailed mongooses.
It was now time to head up into Northern Zambia to visit Kasanka, where the Bat Migration would be in full swing. We would complete the journey over two days, stopping for a night at a lodge in Mkushi district. We finally arrived in Kasanka on day7. Immediately on arrival, we saw 5 sitatunga (a rare swamp-dwelling antelope) outside the main lodge. After lunch we drove to our campsite and there, in the thick greenery flanking Kasanka Stream, we found a Narina Trogon waiting for us and a group of Bohm’s Bee-eaters.
The bats completely failed to disappoint. We watched them emerging from the forest on the first evening, from our own exclusive sundowner spot which I had discovered in the past (having worked there for 3 years), and again the next evening from the same place. Aside from the bats we managed to fit in some extensive drives, birding walks and a canoe ride, clocking up Black Duck, five different Kingfishers, Forest Weaver, Ross’s Turaco and Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, among others.
One of the best experiences of my life. Both Leslie and Sapuleni had excellent demeanours throughout the trip which contributed significantly to my enjoyment. Leslie’s wide knowledge on plants, mammals, insects and birds (and his great enthusiasm for these subjects) was wonderful. I enjoyed all the means and accommodations. I also appreciated Leslie’s and Sapuleni’s sense of humour. I would be very happy to go on a similar trip in the future. Thank you!
“Thanks Leslie and Sapuleni for providing us with such an excellent 10 day tour. We had a great time viewing and learning the natural histories of Zambia’s bird and wildlife species. Leslie’s remarkable knowledge of Zambia’s bush is unsurpassable.
“The camping food was great. Sapuleni attended our every need. Hot showers were always available. Sapuleni ensured that we were never without clean clothes.
“I must highly recommend Lapwing Safaris”
Jon – Lusaka