​Overview – Bangweulu Wetlands

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip has traveled through Zambia several times and is the author of more than 20 guidebooks to various African destinations.

Philip is the Zambia expert for SafariBookings and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Philip is our Zambia expert and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Bangweulu Wetlands, a community-owned protected area, is one of Zambia’s prime birding destinations thanks to the presence of the rare, sought-after shoebill. A mokoro (wooden dugout canoe) trip into the heart of the wetlands to look for these prehistoric-looking birds is a special experience. You’ll also have a chance to interact with the local communities as they practice traditional fishing and beekeeping.

Best Time to Go May to July (Shoebills and black lechwe)
High Season Never (The park is never busy)
Size 6,000km² / 2,317mi²
Altitude 1,160-1,186m / 3,806-3,891ft

Pros & Cons

  • Home to the endemic black lechwe
  • Excellent birding opportunities
  • A chance to see shoebill
  • Community-owned protected wetland
  • An opportunity to meet local communities
  • Activities include game drives, walking safaris and mokoro trips
  • Little-visited off-the-beaten-track destination
  • Good park management under African Parks
  • Limited game-drive circuit
  • Very seasonal destination

Bangweulu Wetlands Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Bangweulu is not a classic wildlife destination. It is, however, the main stronghold of the endemic black lechwe, a graceful semi-aquatic antelope that is certain to be encountered in huge herds. Several cheetahs have recently been reintroduced and the floodplains are the perfect hunting ground for these sleek big cats. But the main attraction for most visitors is the rich birdlife.

Scenery

Bangweulu, meaning ‘where the water meets the sky’, is an extensive wetland located in a shallow depression fed by 17 rivers. The water level in the center varies between 1m and 2m (3.3ft and 6.6ft), causing the perimeter of the wetland to advance and retreat over 40km/25mi between the seasons. This seasonal floodplain is the habitat on which the endangered black lechwe and many other creatures depend.

Weather & Climate

Bangweulu has a tropical climate that sees average daytime temperatures staying uniform throughout most of the year. The exception is the transition from Dry season (May to October) to Wet season (November to April), when temperatures go up by a couple of degrees. Rain and heat both diminish in the drier months.

Best Time to Visit

May to July, early in the Dry season, is the best time to explore the wetlands. During these months the lechwe are abundant on the floodplains and the water level has retreated enough for game drives. Later in the Dry season the female lechwes retreat deep into the wetlands, which makes them difficult to see. The area becomes mostly inaccessible in the Wet season.

Want to Visit Bangweulu Wetlands?

Bangweulu Wetlands Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Ariadne van Zandbergen  –  
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Where water meets the sky
3/5

Bangweulu means ‘Where water meets the sky’. A lovely description of this extraordinary wetland area, home of one of Africa’s most iconic birds, the shoebill. The only way to get to the heart of the wetland is by mokoro – wooden...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Ryan  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Dec 4, 2020
it was exalent!!!!!!
5/5

I loved it! ...

Full Review