The Great Migration - Kasanka Fruit Bats

Feb 8th, 2005, 10:59 PM
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The Great Migration - Kasanka Fruit Bats

While "The Great Migration" refers to the Wildebeest migration between the Serengeti and the Mara, another very interesting migration is that of 5 million fruit bats each November to Kasanka National Park in Zambia.

The skies goes black with the bats when they take flight and fill the skies for approximately 25 minutes around dusk. The articles in the links state that those who have witnessed it said it is a memory that they will never forget.

Although I am spoiling myself with a high season visit to Zambia this year, for next year, I will gladly consider an "Emerald Season" South Luangwa special with rates about half of high season, starting on November 15th. This would also allow a subsequent visit to Kasanka to witness the fruit bats, the largest gathering of bats in the world. Besides the bats, Kasanka also features other wildlife and appears to be a very beautiful area.

Just one more fascinating occurence in Africa. I do not yet see why I would want to go anywhere else!
Roccco is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 11:24 PM
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I was just reading about another incredible bat wildlife experience in the Royal Geographic Magazine (I think it was that magazine and not one of my others). I'll dig it out to see where it was referring to.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Rocco, for a weekend bat experience, you could visit Carlsbad in New Mexico, which is supposed to have an enormous bat exodus each evening. I haven't been, but it looks interesting, and its do-able from LA for a weekend.
thit_cho is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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This would certainly be an amazing sight. In Austin, TX you can see 1.5 million bats fly out from under the Congress Street Bridge. I was there for a college football game and my friends thought I was some kind of freak biologist since I insisted that we all check it out. They were stunned and captivated when they saw them depart for the evening -- quite a spectacle that left my friends thanking me for making sure they saw it.

On a side note no tequilla/margaritas without bats. They are very important pollinators and seed dispersers and there is a long-nosed bat that pollinates the agave plant needed for tequilla.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Feb 10th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Thanks for the feedback on New Mexico and Texas.

In researching this further, I enquired about combining a visit of Kasanka National Park to see the fruit bat migration, along with a visit to Liuwa Plains to see the 2nd biggest wildebeest migration in Africa, and to fill in the space between, a visit to Kafue National Park.

Liuwa Plains and Kasanka are very rarely visited parks and I do not even think it is possible to visit these parks unless you are on a guided tour, unless you have two vehicles (to be totally self-sufficient), get special permission from the Zambian government and have an armed government scout as your guest.

Anyway, here is what I would be looking at, at least if I were doing it this year:

11/16 - Overnight in Lusaka at Taj Hotel (the finest hotel in Lusaka)

11/17 - 6 day/5 night tour of Liuwa Plains, departing overland from Lusaka.

11/22 - Return to Lusaka, overnight at Taj Hotel.

11/23 - 5 night visit to Kafue National Park, hopefully with 4 nights in Busanga Plains if it is still worth visiting once the rainy season starts. Otherwise, South Luangwa or Lower Zambezi would also receive consideration for 5 nights.

11/28 - Taj Hotel, Lusaka. (It is a morning departure for a 9 day Kasanka National Park afterward, so an overnight in Lusaka would be mandatory).

11/29 - 9 day/8 night tour of Kasanka National Park.

12/07 - Early evening return to Lusaka. Overnight at Taj Hotel.

12/08 - END OF PACKAGE, early morning flight to Joburg for all day shopping excursion and then evening flight home.

So, it looks like it would be a 22 night investment, but at pretty reasonable prices and a totally different experience than the luxury lodge route that I am accustomed to (but which is also a huge burden, financially).

Here is the breakdown of the Liuwa Plains and Kasanka National Park tours in case anybody is interested (and especially for anybody, myself included, who does a search on Fodors in the future on these parks). Quote provided by Voyagers Zambia.

>Migration of the wildbeast will take place in November and they is a set departure trip which leaves Lusaka on 17th november 2005 and it will take 6 Days ending in Lusaka

>Kasanka Bats they is a tour departing 29th November for 9 Days from Lusaka and ending in Lusaka >

>Below are itineraries for the above mentioned set departure dates maybe this will give us somewhere to start from

>LIUWA WILDEBEEST MIGRATION SPECIAL > >Liuwa Plains >(Length of trip: 1800 km) > >Activities: >Game viewing, birding, tracking and night drives. >

>Although sleeping in tents, you will be able to enjoy all the comforts in the bush. >We travel with a team of drivers, guide and cook, and all the necessary equipment to set up and run our own comfortable bush-camp (including toilet and shower tents) at the various destinations., while you relax and enjoy your safari!

> > >Day 1 >We get up and go! >Stopping for a delicious picknick lunch in the Kafue National Park we get the first taste of what we will experience in the next few days.

>And then we continue slowly, spotting for Puku, Impala, Zebra, Hartebeest, Elephant, Sable (some times we see herds of over a 100 Sable here!), Warthogs, Hyena and Lion are there for us if we are lucky.

>Once we leave the Park behind us we travel faster along numerous small towns and vilages on the tarred road to Mongu. From here we start using our 4WD and plough through the sand to Kalabo where we will enjoy some fresh Bream for dinner. Bought from the local fishermen at the nearby river and slowly grilled to perfection over a small campfire.

> >Day 2, 3, 4 & 5 >We wake up with a view over the Liuwa Plains this morning. And after breakfast we will be on our way again. Crossing the river by a manhandled pontoon at Kalabo feels like setting your first foot over the startline in a steeple chase. A feeling of liberation before the event even has started. >

>Around this time of the year the migration of Wildebeest takes place here. Tens of thousands of Blue Wildebeest come here for grazing and to give birth to their calves. Of course that attracts predators.

>The Hyena here are bigger than anywhere else in Zambia, thanks to a surplus of food for them. In one day one can count a thousand Oribi's, the elegant small antelope that lives in pairs. Imagine how many pairs we can see!

>Apart from the Cattle Egret and the Tickpeckers that follow the Wildebeest, there are numerous vultures, Snake Eagles and Yellow Billed Kites populating the skies. >Here, 'camping in the wild' really means camping in the wild. Not that there is lack of comfort, but there is definitely no lack of a sense of adventure either! >

>We don't make a 'fixed' program for the next 4 days, but the ingredients will be: exploring the Plains navigating on GPS, looking for herds of thens of thousands of Wildebeest and small herds of Zebra.

>Spotting for the Tsessebee ( a big dark brown Antelope that can run at it's maximum speed longer than any animal) and of course we hope to find Lion and Jackal. Spotted Hyena is abundantly present here.

>We'll spend some time at a few of the waterholes to see what can happen and develop around such a place.

>We get surrounded by numbers of Swallows that fly around the vehicle to pick at the insects that fly up from the high grass as we drive through it.

>The vultures in the skies can determine our direction, and apart from some small Palm Tree islands and a few Fig Trees and shrubs there is just endless grass and sand untill the far horizon. >Of course we also go out on nightdrives too. The Liuwa Plains offer a 100% safari , by day or by night, this is the wild, wild West!

>At the end of day 5 we find ourselves around the campfire in Kalabo again.

> >Day 6 >We repeat the ritual of day one, but then in the reverse direction. > >Departure date: >17 November 2005 >

>Package price: >Minimum 4 pax: US$ 1,950,- per person >

>Our Luxurious Camping Safari Expeditions all start and end in Lusaka and are all full board packages. The prices are based on two people sharing and prices include: - All transfers - Services of our team of drivers, guide and cook - All Accommodation and Bed Levies >- All Meals (incl. glass of wine/beer/softie/juice at lunch and dinner) - Coffee, tea and mineral water available at all times - Fees for Activities - Park Entry Fees - Service Fees & Commissions.

A cash-bar will be carried on board with a modestly priced variety of softies, beers, wine and liquors. A cash-bar is available at some of the camps as well.

> >9 DAYS BAT MIGRATION SPECIAL > >Day 1 >We leave Lusaka in the early morning for the day's journey to Kasanka National Park. On the way we will stop for our picknick-lunch.

> >In November and December one can find millions of Fruitbats in this park( the reason for coming here at this time of the year), and for those who enjoy birdlife: in this small Park more than 420 bird species have been recorded in 2004!

> >If time allows us we will go out on a short game drive or walk at the end of the afternoon. >We spend the night at Wasa Lodge, inside the Park, in comfortable chalets with ensuite bathrooms. After a festive dinner we can go to sleep or relax a bit longer under the stars. >

>Day 2 - We spend the day walking, birding, game viewing and spotting inside the Kasanka National Park.

>Kasanka Park is dominated by Miombo Woodland and evergreen Swamp Forests and offers a home to large numbers of Puku, Defassa Waterbuck, Hartebeest, Sable and Roan Antelope. Elephants, Buffalo and Zebra are there too, but not in large numbers.

>The Sitatunga is a semi-aquatic Antelope and is one of the specialities of this region. Slender Snouted and Nile Crocodile populate the rivers and small lakes. We may encounter Leopard and Hyena here and Caracal, Jackal and Civet are quite common.

Our guide can let us in on many litlle secrets of the bush while we keep our eyes open for big game. And of course there are these millions of Fruit Bats, an absolute phenomenon.

> >Day 3 >An early start again, we drive further North, into the Bangwuelu Wetlands. Birding along the way.

>Our destination is Shoebill Camp, a rather basic but convenient camp on Shoebill Island. It will be getting dark by the time we arrive because on our way we will possibly stop numerous times to look at the birds and wildlife. And we will take our time for 'a picknick with a view'.

>Day 4 >Today we will go further into the Bangwuelu Swamps, enjoying the scenery and spotting for game. The Black Lechwe is endemic to this area, on the dry floodplains around the wetlands one can find thousands of them. Tsessebee, Reedbuck, Sitatunga and Oribi graze here too and Buffalo and Elephant are quite common.

>We will stop at a few selected places/waterholes for some coffee and a snack while we look at the activities that take place around such a pool. Once again I would like to stress that we take our time , we are not here to make a quick photograph and move on, we are here to experience, to feel, smell, sea and hear a very precious part of Africa

>A full on Braai dinner under the stars will mark our evening at Shoebill Camp.

> >Day 5 >Of course these swamps are full of water(if the rains have set in early enough!). And to make your way through these wetlands in a canoe offers you a chance to see this place from a whole different perspective.

>The birds that have nestled in the shores, or are hiding in the reeds become visible now and the peace and quietness on the water can be overwhelming.

>Sometimes there is just not enough water for a canoeing excursion, but then of course we'll go for a walking safari and a game drive!

> >Day 6 >Back to Kasanka, where we were just long enough to develop an appetite for it's beauty the other day. Today we want to see some more of it so we go out on a late afternoon drive. We bring out a toast to sunset in the bush and continue with our big spotlight in the dark, searching for the nocturnal creatures and the reflection of the eyes from a Leopard....or a Porcupine!

> >Day 7 >The Kapisha hot springs are our next destination. Here we can actually take a very relaxing bath in the river at the end of the afternoon, with water being warmed up from the pool of hot springs in it. Birdlife is abundant around here too with more than 300 species recorded on the estates. Palm Nut Vultures, Stanley's Bustard, a wide selection of Sunbirds and Kingfishers, especially around the river the birdlife can be totally spectacular. >Accomodation is in basic but comfortable chalets tonight, with ensuite bathrooms.

> >Day 8 >And there is more to see and more to do around here. There is history, culture and the mixture of present and past in the Manor House on the Shiwa Estate waiting for us. The famous Shiwa Ngandu Estates were the inspiration of Stewart Gore-Browne at the end of World War 1. The Manor House is impressive, as is the history behind it. Nowadays it is run by Charlie Harvey, the grandson of Stewart Gore-Browne, and his wife Jo. >Later this day we enjoy a festive picknick at the Chusa Falls and spend a good part of the afternoon enjoying the scenic splendour and some of us will no doubt bring out the fishing gear...

> > >Day 9 >After a leisurely breakfast we make the return transfer to Lusaka where we will arrive before dark.

> >Departure date: >29 November 2005 > >Package price: >Minimum 4 pax: US$ 1,980,- per person

> >Price includes: All transfers - Services of driver and wildlife-guide - All accommodation - All meals (incl. glass of wine/beer/softie at lunch and dinner) - Coffee, tea, juice and mineral water available at all times - Fees for all activities - Park entry fees - Service fees & commissions

> >A cash-bar will be carried on board with a modestly priced variety of softies, beers, wine and liquors. There is also a cash-bar at every lodge as well.

Roccco is offline  
Feb 10th, 2005, 06:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Great trip to Liuwa Plains. I met with the Zambia Tourist Board at the Adventure Travel Show in NY in January, and they had very little info on Liuwa, which I would love to combine with trip into Angola. The 6-day trip through Kafue and into Liuwa is on my list. Thanks
thit_cho is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:38 AM
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Here is how a great, off the beaten path tour of Kasanka (Fruit Bat Migration), Liuwa Plains (second biggest Wildebeest Migration in Africa) and Kafue would work, and be priced.

Mid-November Start

Taj Pamodzi, Lusaka (1) (5* Hotel)
Liuwa Plains Tour (5)
Taj Pamodzi, Lusaka (1)
Lunga River Lodge, Kafue NP (2)
Busanga Plains Bush Camp, Kafue NP (3)
Taj Pamodzi, Lusaka (1)
Kasanka NP (9)
Taj Pamodzi (1)

23 Nights Total, including all transfers beginning from Lusaka = $6,470 per person ($281.30 pppns)

If a 6 night option to Kasanka is found, then I think this would be a great itinerary at no more than about $5,750 per person. Kasanka is a very small park at 400 sq. miles, so I do think 9 nights is too long.

It is good to know that a combination of Liuwa Plains, Kafue NP and Kasnka is possible and out of about 5 Zambian companies I contacted, only Voyagers Zambia followed through with excellent service, so it is definitely Voyagers Zambia that I would consider for a tour such as this and would recommend to others.

Roccco is offline  

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