Where to stay
The Kasanka Trust runs all the camps in the park. They can be booked in advance by contacting PO Box 850073, Serenje; satellite tel: 00 873 762067957; fax: 00 873 762067959; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Kasanka can often accommodate 'drop-in' visitors who have their own food, though booking in advance is always a good idea.
(8 twin-bed rondavels) (GPS: WASALO)
About 20 minutes' drive from the main road, in a delightful spot on the shore of Lake Wasa, is the park's main camp. Wherever you are going in the park, you should report here first. Wasa's thatched rondavels have undergone fairly major upgrades in the past few years, with some of the large, new ones now being very comfortable, and even the smaller, older ones now have en-suite flush toilets and hot showers. At night the camp is lit by atmospheric lanterns and small solar-powered lights.
Wasa is well staffed and equipped, and staying here can work in two different ways. If you're driving in, then you can bring your own supplies and the camp's staff will cook them for you. They will also prepare hot water for showers, and are generally around for any reasonable help that you might need. A bar is always available. If you are flying into Kasanka, or don't have your own food, then it's best to let the camp know in advance that they will need to cater for you.
Similarly, with your own vehicle you can drive yourself around the park or take a local guide to accompany you. However, if you're flying in then you will need the use of one of the camp's 4WDs and guides, which should be prearranged. Luwombwa Fishing Lodge
(5 chalets) (GPS: LUWOMB)
This very pleasant and peaceful lodge sits on the bank of the Luwombwa River in the western half of the park. Accommodation consists of three A-frame thatch-on-brick chalets, two of which have twin beds upstairs as well as a single and double downstairs, while the third has one floor only, containing a double and single bed. All have an en-suite toilet, wash basin and shower. There are also two older, much simpler chalets with separate facilities. All feel a lot roomier than the older chalets at Wasa, so it's worth coming over the Luwombwa for at least a night or two if you're staying in the park for any time.
The camp's simple bar and dining area is made of reeds and thatch, and it is dominated by a huge and quite magnificent mpundu (or mobola) plum (Parinari curatellifolia
). This has edible fruits, around October to January, which are variously described as 'sought-after', 'pleasant-tasting' and 'disgusting'.
The camp works on a similar basis to Wasa – you bring your supplies and the camp's staff will look after you, or you make arrangements for meals and drinks with the camp in advance. To reach Luwombwa before dark, make sure that you get to Wasa before 17.00, or it will be too late to continue on here. Motor boats (5 seats) with guides are available for hire here, as are canoes (3 seats).
Kasanka has two small camping sites, and plans to open more in time:
The Pontoon Campsite
is set under a beautiful stand of red mahogany (mululu
) trees (Khaya nyasica
) near the main Kasanka River crossing (which is a pontoon as I write, but may soon be a bridge!). There are simple bucket showers and long-drop toilets as well as two cooking shelters. Staff are on hand to supply firewood, draw water, prepare hot showers, and give basic guidance to visitors. The site can accommodate groups of up to about 15 people.
The Fibwe Campsite
is the alternative, and that's near to the Machan Hide in mushitu forest (where the bats roost in November and December). It's a smaller site, for around 6 people at most. Due to the sensitivity of its location, it is not always available and must be booked in advance. Children are not allowed here (so as not to disturb the wildlife).
Rates: US$5 per person per night camping
Fly-campingGuided walking safaris
Led by expert, armed game scouts, these last three to five days and offer a real bush experience: the chance to see the many different vegetation types, insects, birds and animals, and to discuss the bush, the project, and anything else at leisure! They usually also include some time canoeing. The fly camps are simple, but supplies are delivered ahead by vehicle so you don't need to carry a heavy pack.Backpackers' walking safaris
Note that experienced backpackers who arrive fully equipped with food and supplies, and who are prepared to carry all their own kit, can often arrange to go for an extended walking trip with an accompanying scout at a much lower cost.