Lake Bangweulu


Zambia’s forgotten waterlogged wilderness


A labyrinth of 17 rivers feed an extensive system of lakes, seasonally flooded grasslands, and swamps bordered by unspoiled woodland, to collectively form the Bangweulu Wetlands. Lake Bangweulu is set on the north-western edge of the Great Bangweulu Basin, within which this waterlogged wilderness rests. This rarely visited part of Zambia is home to the largest number of black lechwe in Africa – a force to rival the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration.

The over 75,000 black lechwe share the marshes with the swamp-dwelling sitatunga and other antelope, such as bushbuck, reedbuck, oribi, and tsessebe. Jackals and hyenas roam the area eager for leftovers. When the floodwaters recede, large herds of buffalo and elephant tread the floodplains. Some 400 species of bird flock to the area, including the elusive shoebill. Watch the towering bird ambush its prey, using its clog-shaped beak to swoop and stab in one quick motion.

Small villages dot the surroundings, where the villagers focus on hauling in bream, yellow belly, tiger fish, and catfish from the lake. Though flying into Bangweulu is a far smoother journey, traversing the area by 4x4 will delight the adventurous.

 

Highlights

  • Lake Bangweulu is set on the north-western edge of the Great Bangweulu Basin
  • Home to the largest number of black lechwe in Africa – an estimated 75,000 – enough to rival the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration
  • Other antelope graze the floodplain under the watchful gaze of predators such as jackal and hyena
  • Some 400 species of bird flock to the area including the sought-after shoebill
  • Large herds of elephant and buffalo also frequent the area

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