Kasanka National Park
Park fees: US$10 per person, US$5 per vehicle, per day
This small park is the first privately managed national park in Zambia. It is run by a charity, the Kasanka Trust, and the proceeds from tourism go directly into conservation and development in the park and surrounding communities. It is only 420km2 in area, but encompasses a wide variety of vegetation zones from dry evergreen forests to various types of moist forest and permanent papyrus swamps. The park and its camps are so well kept that it is a delightful place to spend a relaxing few days, and keen birdwatchers will find many more pressing reasons to visit.
Kasanka was made a national park in 1972, but it was poorly maintained and poaching was rife until the late 1980s. Then an initiative was started by David Lloyd, a former district officer, and Gareth Williams, a local commercial farmer. With the approval of the National Parks and Wildlife Department and the local community, they started to put private money into revitalising the park.
In 1990 the National Parks Department signed a management contract with the Kasanka Trust, giving the latter the right to manage the park and develop it for tourism in partnership with the local community. The Trust, which is linked to a registered charity based in the UK (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), has trailblazed a model for the successful private management of a Zambian national park. It has been fortunate in gaining financial backing from various donors, but now relies almost entirely on tourism income to fund its activities.
The Kasanka Trust aims to manage the area's natural resources for the benefit of both the wildlife and the local people, and so it closely supports and consults with a locally elected community resource board.
Kasanka is on the southern fringes of the Bangweulu Swamps, and just 30km from the border with DRC. It is almost completely flat and, lying at an altitude of about 1,200m, it gets a high rainfall during the wet season (about 1,200mm) which results in a lush cover of vegetation.
Although there are several small rivers flowing through the park, the evenness of the land has resulted in an extensive marsh area known as the Kapabi Swamp. There are also eight lakes in the park, though seven of these are really just small permanently flooded dambos.