Fly in safaris to Bangweulu Swamps – There are two airstrips in Bangweulu that can be used by guests to fly into the park on a charter flight with Skytrails charter planes, based in Lusaka. For Nkondo Camp you’ll arrive via the Chiundaponde airstrip, while for Shoebill Island Camp guests use the Chimbwi airstrip at Chikuni.
The Bangweulu Wetlands and is the best place in the world to see the mighty shoebill, especially in season. There is a staggering variety of other bird species and the major species to be sought out here from a wildlife point of view are the black lechwe which are found in their hundreds of thousands.
Due to effective park-management black lechwe, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and are only found in Bangweulu, have increased from 35,000 in 2010 to over 50,000 today.
Translocations are bolstering Bangweulu’s wildlife. A 2017 translocation saw 250 animals including impala and zebra released into the park; in 2019, another introduced 95 buffalo with the aim of increasing genetic diversity.
Bangweulu is home to over 400 bird species, including 10% of the world’s wattled crane population and the globally important population of the endangered shoebill stork, both also listed as vulnerable.
Bangweulu’s community programmes and enterprise development projects range from bee-keeping to fisheries management and impact more than 50,000 people living within the protected area. In 2018, our beekeeping programme distributed more than 300 beehives to communities, with two tonnes of honey harvested. The project garnered strong local support and is currently being rolled out across other chiefdoms.
The reproductive health education programme, implemented in 2016, has garnered enormous support from local communities. During 2018, the programme conducted 26 family planning sessions in local chiefdoms that reached 1,007 women and more than 1,800 adolescent school children.
In 2019, Bangweulu supported four schools, impacting more than 800 students. Forty ZeduPads (a solar-powered pre-loaded tablet with multiple curriculums with over 13 languages) have been distributed amongst the schools and are delivering educational material to students.
In 2012, a Shoebill Nest Protection Plan was developed with support from local communities. Approximately eight local fishermen are employed as guards to protect shoebill nesting sites, preventing poachers from stealing eggs and chicks to feed the illegal wildlife trade. To date, these guards have helped protect over 30 fledglings.
The main season is from May to August when Shoebills can usually be seen on canoe trips. September to November offer great birding (though maybe no Shoebill sightings) and the some amazing mammal spectacles.
Shoebill island camp
Shoebill Island Camp is perfectly positioned on the edge of the expansive Bangweulu wetlands. The camp has a front row seat to the constant activity of the swamps and surrounding flood plain. It is always alive with bird movement and the sound of thousands of lechwe sloshing through the shallow waters. The peaceful harmony of the local fisherman brings a special experience to this camp, where community conservation is crucial to the welfare of the wetlands and its wildlife, especially the iconic shoebill. Each day ends looking out at the sunset before you, and closes out what is certainly a place never to be forgotten.