Top 5 Things to Know about the Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration
The astounding Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration in Zambia is one of the natural world’s best-kept secrets, and for years this startling sight remained virtually unseen by African travel enthusiasts – not anymore! Lying just south of the Bangweulu Wetlands, Kasanka National Park – which is in fact one of Zambia and Africa’s smallest National Parks – is home to the largest mammal migration in the entire world (which may indeed come as a surprise or perhaps even as a major shock to many). Well, you better believe it, because its true, and trust us, you do not want to miss out on witnessing and experiencing the sensational bucket-list worthy wildlife spectacle that is the Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration – A truly exhilarating and extraordinary spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!
Here are the top 5 things to know about the Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration.
#1 The Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration is the largest mammal migration on the planet
While The Annual Great Migration of Wildebeest in Tanzania and Kenya may well win the attention, fancy name, and all the wildlife glitz and glam, did you know that despite popular belief, the largest mammal migration in the world as well as Africa’s largest wildlife migration actually does not take place on the grass plains and savannas of the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve – but rather the skies over the Congo and Kasanka National Park in Zambia? We’re talking about The Annual Kasanka National Park Bat Migration!
While Kasanka’s bat migration may be lesser-known, it tops many of Africa’s more famous migrations in the sheer numbers of mammals participating.
#2 Best time to see Kasanka National Park’s Annual Bat Migration in full force
Best time: October – December
Every year, from late-October to December, at the beginning of the Wet season, the skies around this tiny African jewel – Kasanka National Park in Zambia – comes alive with around 10 million straw-colored fruit bats. These African straw-colored bats are said to migrate from the Congo Basin and arrive from all over central Africa to feed on the fruiting trees of the evergreen swamp forest in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park.
The scale of this migration is not only immense, but utterly extraordinary – with bats dispersing and flying about as far as the eye can see! Seeing these millions of straw-colored fruit bats fly out every evening from their roosts to feed is both an exhilarating and spectacular spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!
**Tip: November is your best bet to get the optimum experience with around 10 million bats roosting.
#3 Viewpoints & Hides to witness this remarkable wildlife spectacle
There are plenty of viewpoints throughout the park, ranging from hides (wooden platforms built in trees) to public viewing areas. As Kasanka National Park’s custom-built bat hides are limited in number, these tree-top hideaways are generally reserved and mainly used by lodge guests who are accompanied by a knowledgeable guide.
The public viewpoints on the other hand are open and accessible to absolutely anyone and everyone who wishes to see this sensational spectacle in all its glory. These viewpoints consist of wide-open areas where people can sit on benches and have unobstructed views of the millions of straw-colored fruit bats as they start to fly off to feed. While the hides give visitors a view of the bats as they emerge, the public viewpoints are said to be better for witnessing the sheer scale of the migration.
**Tip: There are two bat-specific viewing times. You can see the bats in the evening when they set out to feed as well as in the morning when they return to roost with up to twice their body weight full of fruit. It is quite something to listen to the sound of branches straining and cracking under the increasing weight and burden of tired and stuffed bats. During the day you’ll see the squeaking masses of bats clinging to tree canopies above.
#4 Keep an eye out for huge birds of prey & several small predators and scavengers
While the sheer volume of bats is nothing short of jaw-dropping and is bound to render you speechless, the atmosphere surrounding this phenomenon is equally thrilling and captivating. You will see countless huge birds of prey swoop through the skies in an effort to take down as many bats as possible. That’s not all! Several small predators and scavengers can also be found waiting below, ready to pounce on any bats that may fall or become injured during their battle for survival.
#5 Kasanka National Park is a small park with a mighty treasure
At roughly 470 sq km (181 sq miles), Kasanka National Park is one of Zambia’s smallest National Parks – yet it is home to the world’s largest mammal migrations! This means that while Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia may well be one of the smaller and ‘lesser-known’ National Parks in Africa, it is in no way stopping it from making some NOT-TO-BE-AVOIDED global African wildlife spectacle noise – attracting people from far and wide to see what it’s all about – and let’s not forget, to witness the largest mammal migration on planet Earth!
Kasanka National Park is also known for its rich biodiversity due to its location within wetlands and floodplains. In addition to the millions of straw-coloured fruit bats, the park is home to nearly 500 bird species and 114 mammals, including a small, recovering population of elephants. Puku and sitatunga are common sights, while lucky visitors may see buffalo, antelope, and other more elusive mammals.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Kasanka is the only place in the world where you can witness this natural phenomenon.
- The migration only takes place for about 90 days (late October to mid-December).
- We recommend flying directly to Kasanka by private charter plane (there is an airstrip inside the park).
**Interesting Fact: Conservationists think that these African straw-colored fruit bats are not only responsible for pollination, but up to 60% of forest seed dispersal. Making this event not only spectacular in every way possible but also ecologically crucial.