Access into Bangweulu is a little awkward but it’s a real highlight for committed birders.
Situated in north-eastern Zambia and managed by African Parks, the wetlands spread across a large area. The watery wilderness has a substantial surrounding of short grass plains fringed by forests. Combined, they create a beautiful environment for some unusual species such as black lechwe and the rare shoebill stork.
The community-owned Bangweulu Wetlands area is entirely off the beaten track, and only a couple of basic camps provide accommodation.
A delicately managed partnership between the needs of the local fishing people and the wildlife has seen a significant improvement in wildlife numbers since 2008. Black lechwe numbers have risen from 35 000 in 2008 to over 50 000 at the last count. The swamps are the only place in the world to see this unique animal. During the 2017 season, at least seven shoebill chicks were successfully reared in the wild, and more since. Fish stocks have increased with a fishing ban during the spawning season.
The Bangweulu Wetlands are home to over 433 bird species including 10% of the global wattled crane population. Stocks of impala, zebra and other animals have been brought in to boost the existing populations.
The best time to visit is from May to December when the plains are drier. August to December is the driest, and easiest for game drives and seeing the shoebill nests.