THINGS WITH WINGS BIRDING SAFARI
10-Day Birding Safari to Zambia
Dr. Ian Sinclair, the renowned birding expert and author of over 25 birding books wrote, “Kasanka has undoubtedly some of Africa’s finest birding”. Things with Wings, a birding safari, is timed for the largest mammal migration on earth. From mid-October to early January, 8-10 million giant fruit bats convene in Kasanka, attracting large raptors including Crowned, Fish, and Martial Eagles, as well as vultures. This birding tour will visit Kasanka National Park (470+ bird species) and South Luangwa National Park (450+ bird species). Both are Important Bird Areas (IBA). Zambia has a rich avian heritage of 734 species and 42 IBAs.
Learn more about our other birding safari options and Jordan Price, birding specialist and tour leader for this trip.
Pioneer Lodge & Camp is a relaxed place to recover from the long flight to Zambia. Situated on a 25 acre wooded property in the outskirts of Lusaka, the camp has several chalets and cottages. Accommodations are comfortable and have en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets.
DAYS 2 – 6 – KASANKA NATIONAL PARK: After enjoying breakfast at Pioneer Lodge & Camp, we will return to Kenneth Kuanda International Airport. Depending on the size of our group, we will utilize either one or two chartered aircraft for the 1.5 hour flight from Lusaka to Kasanka. Seeing Zambia from the air is a wonderful experience! If we were to drive, it would take us over nine hours to reach our destination.
After arriving at Kasanka’s airstrip, a driver will pick us up and drive us a short 2 miles to Wasa Lodge. The lodge is located at the edge of forest inside the national park and has views over a lake frequented by wildlife.
This safari is timed for the largest mammal migration on earth. From mid-October to early January, 8-10 million giant straw-colored fruit bats, each with a 2.5’ wingspan, convene in Kasanka National Park. That’s 2,800 tons of bats—the equivalent of 1,000 elephants suspended from the trees. This epic migration attracts large raptors including Crowned, Fish, and Martial Eagles, as well as vultures.
Our three full days at Kasanka will be spent enjoying this “Congo meets southern Africa” environment. The birdlife here is superb as it contains elements of both southern and equatorial Africa! We have many options available for exploring the park (included in the safari). We can walk, bike, and drive. Sunrise and sunset activities are also available, as well as night drives. Tall hides have been specifically constructed for optimal bat & bird viewing! We have access to exclusive hides used by the BBC for their 2009 “Life” documentary film series featuring these bats and their epic migration.
Specials in Kasanka include: Böhm’s Bee Eater, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Wattled Crane, African Crowned Eagle, Ross’s Turaco, African Broadbill, African Blue Quail (possible resident), African Pitta, Fuelleborn’s Longclaw, and the African Finfoot.
Wasa Lodge’s seven chalets are strategically placed along the treeline, offering views across a lake/wetland. A treetop hide is located at the lodge. Each chalet has a flush toilet and simple shower. It is the closest lodge to the Kasanka Bat Forest and the largest lodge in the park.
DAYS 6 – 8 – SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK: After our last breakfast at Wasa Lodge and another morning of birding, we will be driven to the airstrip for our second Zambian flight. Our flight from Kasanka National Park to South Luangwa National Park’s Mfuwe Airport is around an hour. This will be another beautiful flight as there are mountains, forests, and the Muchinga Escarpment en route. When we arrive at Mfuwe, we will be picked up by a driver from Thornicroft Lodge. Our lovely lodge is 20 miles from the airport.
Upon arrival at Thornicroft, we will get settled in and head into the park in the late-afternoon for our first safari in the Luangwa Valley. Our lodge is about five minutes from the park entrance. When we return to the lodge, the cook will serve a delicious dinner. After dinner you can enjoy a cool drink at the bar or listen to the sounds of the night in the lounge, around the firepit, or on your private veranda.
The next two days, we will wake early in the morning for a light snack with tea & coffee. Around 6:00 AM we will depart for a morning drive. Thornicroft’s 4x4s are open vehicles, granting us maximum visibility in the forests, savannas, and floodplains of the valley. Remnant oxbow lagoons are plentiful and support teeming wildlife in and around the park. Depending on our sightings, we will return to the lodge around 10:00 AM for brunch. After an afternoon rest, swim, and tea, we will return to the park for an afternoon game drive, returning at 8:00 PM for dinner. South Luangwa National Park allows night drives and we will take advantage of this!
South Luangwa is probably one of the most natural habitats remaining in Africa. It has lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, hippo, wild dogs, and all the typical large and small game. Birds include Western Banded Snake Eagle, Lilian’s Lovebird, Collared Palm Thrush, Fire-crowned Bishop, Arnott’s Chat, and the Racket-tailed Roller. Two specialty mammals restricted to the Luangwa Valley are Cookson’s wildebeest and Thornicroft’s giraffe. Crawshay’s zebra is also present.
Thornicroft Lodge is surrounded by the African bush and is situated between a lagoon and the banks of the broad Luangwa River. The lodge is a few minutes from the entrance to South Luangwa National Park. Each of the nine chalets has a bathroom with flush toilet and shower. Chalets also have breathtaking views across the river. The main lodge is a spacious thatched area which houses the dining room, lounge, and bar. With a traditional roof, stone walls, and gnarled wooden colonnades, the lodge has been designed to fit in with the natural environment.
DAY 9 – LUSAKA: On our final day at Thornicroft, we will have breakfast and go on our last bird safari inside South Luangwa National Park before boarding our flight. The flight from Mfuwe to Lusaka is approximately 2 hours.
The remainder of the day is free to explore Lusaka on your own or relax at Pioneer Lodge & Camp. Lunch options can be discussed by the group. We will have dinner at Pioneer Lodge.
DAY 10 – DEPART: After breakfast at Pioneer Lodge & Camp, we will be driven to Kenneth Kuanda International Airport to begin our return flight to the US.
Individuals who have signed up for extensions will continue onward on their African vacation!
Interested in this Safari? Give us a call or drop us an email.
Luxury and moderate tented camps and lodge
Guided bird and bush walks, game drives, night drives, nature walks, biking
Value I Deluxe I Luxury
Call for pricing
*$ = >$4,999; $$ = $5,000 – $9,999; $$$ = $10,000+
All pricing per person based on double occupancy. Price includes all accommodations, meals, tips, guides, group airport transfers, internal flights, park fees, and activities as indicated, and a $25 donation to a worthy African charity. Price excludes international flights, visas, beverages, bottled water, snacks, inoculations, travel insurance, and anything not specified above. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover & AMEX. No refunds—see terms & conditions for details.