One of Africa’s best kept wildlife secrets occurs annually between October and December, when about 10 million African Straw-coloured Fruit-bats (Eidolon helvum) descend into the tiny patch of evergreen Mushitu forest inside Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia.
The huge bats arrive from throughout the moist, tropical forests of the Congo basin with the first rains in Kasanka, which prompts the ripening of the fruit upon which they feed.
While the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest in east Africa is one of the best known wildlife phenomenons in Africa, this Zambian bat migration is actually the largest migration of mammals on earth, and is unique to Kasanka. The sheer numbers of bats darken the skies and it is an audiovisual spectacle that every wildlife and nature lover should add to their bucket list.
At dusk each night, the bats begin to fly and the sky becomes thick with big flocks as they prepare to spend the night indulging on a feast of fruit. The bats are large, with wingspans of a metre, and each bat can eat up to twice its own body weight. During their time in Kasanka, they can consume a mind boggling 5,000 collective tons of fruit each evening!
Apart from the astonishing bat migration, Kasanka is also famous for fantastic other mammal sightings (including Sitatunga, Blue Monkey, Puku, African Elephant and many more), as well as excellent birdwatching (more than 400 species have been recorded in the park), combined with incredible scenic surrounds and dramatic African landscapes.