During the wet season, from February to April, the park comes alive with birdlife and is a birdwatcher’s paradise. As the plains are wet, sightings can be done by boat, while a number of walks are also available. Please note that Nsobe campsite is closed at this time because of high water levels.
From May to July, the plains are drier and the weather is generally much cooler. This is the perfect time to see lechwe and shoebills while walking and driving in the park. Nsobe campsite is open at this time, and opportunities for boating are dependent on the water level.
From August to December is the real dry season, and during this period the conditions are ideal for game drives and camping. The dry season is also the best time to see shoebill nests.
Just a short flight from the Luangwa Valley, the park makes an ideal day trip for those on a big game safari in the area. Our guides and boats are available from February to June, and we can organise shoebill nest visits between August and October by prior arrangement.
The park is open from 05h00 to 18h00 for day visitors.
Fees for day visitors are:
Yellow Fever inoculation certificates are no longer a requirement for entry into or departure from Zambia. However, visitors travelling on to other countries in Africa are advised to contact their doctor at least eight weeks before travel for up-to-date advice on their vaccination requirements and other health precautions. We also suggest that travellers take appropriate medical insurance for their holiday.
Please note that Bangweulu is a malaria area. It is important to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellents, as well as by wearing long sleeves and trousers in the evenings and mornings. It is also advisable that visitors take prophylaxis medication prescribed by a doctor.
When it comes to drinking water, avoid drinking tap water unless it is boiled or filtered. Bottled water is widely available in Zambia.
Although chiBemba is the predominant local language spoken in the Bangweulu area, English is Zambia’s official language and one can usually find someone who speaks English, even in remote areas.
Please note that all visitors to Zambia require a passport valid for at least six months from arrival. A number of countries either do not require a visa to visit Zambia, or may be issued one at their port of arrival. For confirmation it is advisable to check with the Zambia Immigration department: http://www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/
The local currency is Zambian Kwacha (ZMW). Many tourist destinations will accept US dollars, but change may be a problem if paying with large denomination notes. Try to have some small denomination ZMW notes for buying fresh produce and other supplies at local markets.
Although Zambia is a relatively safe country, always try to travel during the day and give yourself ample time to get to your destination – even quite short distances can require long travel times because of bad road conditions, and 4X4 vehicles with good clearance are recommended in most places. Start your journey with a full fuel tank and plenty of supplies – this should be done in big towns like Serenje or Mpika, as there is no fuel available in the remote areas. Please be aware that cellphone coverage is largely absent in the area. Some small towers have been erected at Chiundaponde and Muwele near Nsobe, but the signal is often poor.
For visitors interested in driving to the park, there are two options:
Option A: Using the Great North Road via Lavushi Manda Nation Park. From Lusaka, travel north towards Tanzania until 12km north of the Kalonje railway siding where there is a signpost: Lavushi Manda National Park/Bangweulu Wetlands. Take this turn to the left or to the right if approaching from the north (70km from Mpika). This road goes through the southern corner of Lavushi Manda National Park for 70km to Chiunda Ponde. If heading to Nkondo headquarters and tented camp, follow the sign-posted turnoff to your left before Chiundaponde village. If heading to the swamps, continue for 65km to Nsobe Camp, which is situated on the edge of the floodplain. If travelling onwards to Shoebill Island, continue for 10km across the floodplain following the causeway to Chikuni, and 1km on to Shoebill Island. During the wet season a boat transfer should be organised from Nsobe.
Option B: Travel via Kasanka National Park and Lake Waka Waka (a great place for a lunch break) to Nsobe Campsite. This is a dry season route only.
Access conditions change over time and any traveller to Bangweulu is advised to contact staff at Nkondo headquarters to get an update on prevailing conditions before departure: firstname.lastname@example.org
GPS Co-ordinates - Nkondo Tented camp: S12.29060⁰ E30.62486⁰ ; Nsobe Campsite: S11.98741⁰ E30.30747⁰
Please be aware that if you are driving to the park you will pass through several villages. Rather than distributing goods to children, please chat to us about donating educational materials through one of our community engagement programmes.
If you prefer to fly, there are currently two operational airstrips in the area: Chimbwi at Chikuni; a 1km-long grass airstrip, 1km from Shoebill Island Camp (S11.96800 E 030.25473) and Inja airstrip – S12 15’29.24” E30 35’03.53” at Chiundaponde; a 1km gravel airstrip near Nkondo Camp and Nakapalayo Cultural Village and Community Camp.