Reviews of Wasa Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Wassa lodge safari
The safari drives and guides were good althought the 'game' life was a little limited the birds were good. The trip to the top of a tree drinking sundowners while watching the million or so migratory fruit bats emerging from their roost was excellent. The hippo's in the lake at the lodge ware a daily entertainment.
On the negative side, the huts could take a little refurbishment and the plastic taps used in the shower are very difficult to operate.
The tsetse flies are rather troublesome in some areas at certain times of the day and the warnings about skin coverage and insect repellent are nearly useless. These things are completely unperturbed by DEET and will bite through thin shirts and socks.
Great stay. We went for the sitatunga and saw them on both morning visits. The staff were very helpful and the guiding good.
It would not be suitable as a regular safari camp as there are very few animals to see, and the birds are not that plentiful either, but for the specific reason of looking for sitatunga it is very good.
Wasa Lodge review
Beautiful location beside Wasa Lake. Staff very friendly and helpful. Fruit Bat numbers beginning to pick up but only perhaps 1-2 million! Very impressive morning and evening viewing at the roost from interesting (!) tree hides. A head for heights helps! Tsetse flies by the hundreds on one early evening game drive gave serious problems and demanded face nets: but we hadn't brought them with us this year! Area/time was avoided after that night and no further problems.
Good game viewing for Sitatunga etc although numbers quite low. Morning walk and visit to Luwombwa Lodge for canoe trip along the river gave us a good appreciation of a lovely small park. We had been advised that drinks were not included at Wasa or Shoebill island camp under the Kasanka Trust but were told we were on a fully inclusive rate! Recommended but Wasa is really only busy at bat time!
Wasa Lodge review
Minor grumbles only, mentioned by other visitors at the time, may well be attended to in planned upgrading of the accommodation.Read more about the whole safari
We really enjoyed our time at Wasa. The camp is run and managed by the Kasanka trust and it is great to know that the profits go straight back into the upkeep of the park. The camp manager is brilliant. At the start of our stay he asked us what we wanted to see and designed a programme for us to be able to fit everything in - despite our limited time. We were incredibly well looked after throughout our entire stay.
When we arrived there was a sitatunga grazing by the shore of the lake about 150 metres from the lodge. It's great to see a species of antelope that is normally so elusive up close (although you still need either a decent camera lens or pair of binos to get a good view). He stayed in roughly the same spot throughout our visit and they tell us he gets slightly closer to the lodge as the season continues each year.
The first evening we were there we went up to the BBC hide to watch the bats emerge from their trees. This was spectacular. We were told there were between 2 and 5 million bats when we were there at the end of October and that number would have continued to rise during November. Potential visitors should be aware that the climb up to the hide involves a long and rickety ladder attached to the tree - this isn't suitable for anyone who is scared of heights or anyone who has any mobility issues. However, you can also get a good view of the bats from the ground.
The following morning we went back up to the BBC hide to see the bats come back to their trees. This was also amazing - I think the bats come slightly closer as they return in the morning. Note that it does get cold so early in the morning and also during the drive in an open vehicle - I wore a fleece and some lightweight thermals under my safari gear. On our way back to the lodge we saw a family of baboons. The Kasanka baboons are a slightly different type - they are currently doing genetic testing to determine if they are a subspecies or whether they just exhibit different behaviours. They are currently the subject of some research so they are fairly well habituated and we had a lovely sighting watching them groom each other in the early morning sun.
We then went back to the lodge to ditch our warm clothes and have a bacon sandwich before heading off again on a drive to the river. We had some nice bird sightings on the way and also saw a family of jackals running in the distance. We also had a very brief sighting of a bushbaby (the jeep startled a dwarf mongoose who ran into a hole at the bottom a tree and a bushbaby poked his head out the top to see what the fuss was about).
We did a canoe trip on the river which was lovely. We saw some lovely birds including 5 species of kingfisher, Martial eagle, cormorants, egrets, bee eaters and a Ross's Turaco.
After a long lunch and a brief siesta we went for a walk where we saw lots of interesting insects and a few more birds.
On our drive home we looked for the sable antelope but unfortunately didn't see them.
We had flown into Kasanka on a private charter flight with Skytrails. Our pilot stayed with us at the lodge and he offered to fly us up to shoebill island for the day and do some scenic flying over the herds of black lechwe and tsesebe for a cost of $500. After a bit of thinking we decided to do it and were extremely glad we did as it turned out to be a great day. Flying over the herds of lechwe was spectacular as thousands of them congregate together. We walked through the swamps to see a shoebill and got very close (within 20 metres) - he was totally unfased - at one point he went to sleep. They are such spectacular birds. We then did a game drive in search of the tsesebe, which we found, another huge herd. We also drove through the massive herds of lechwe. There were lots of other birds and the whole day was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it as a day trip if you have access to a plane. It is also possible to drive but not in one day as the road is in very poor condition.
The following morning we went on another short game drive to try and find the sable antelope - but unfortunately they eluded us again. We did, however, see some bushpigs, which made the drive worthwhile.
Visitors to Kasanka should be aware that the game is nowhere near as prolific or as habituated as in the other Zambian National parks. Almost all of the antelope we saw ran away as soon as they saw or heard the jeep. However, the amazing spectacle of the bats, the chance to see the sitatunga and the excellent birdlife make this an extremely worthwhile destination for those who don't just want to see the Big Five. Add to that the fact that every cent that you pay goes straight back into the upkeep and protection of the park. I would also definitely recommend shoebill island - either as a day trip or a longer visit depending on your budget and time constraints.
Kasanka Trust and the community
Our comments are on earlier. [Ed: See review below]
We visited the Kasanka Conservation Centre at the park entrance and saw the work the Trust is doing with ecological researchers and school visits. There are several research teams in action and this is very encouraging as the Trust developes its work.
Wasa, Kasanka Trust and Bengweulu superb
It was great to meet up with Ernst, from Mwalshi 2 years ago, who is the new Trust Manager. He covers several sites but the work with the Trust is going well and it is very rewarding to visit. It is quite different from Luangwa - lakes and rivers, drive-in visitors and rare animals.
The Lodge is comfortable with good food provided by Brighton. We saw 23 Sitatunga on a morning drive coming out of the mist. It is very cold a night - down to 5 probably, so fleece layers were essential. Days were clear and lovely. Fishing, walking, birding and good guiding made our visit to Kasanka a really good experience.
We decided to add a day trip to Bangweulu as it was so strongly recommended by recent visitors. extremely glad we did so. Fly out at 08.00 and back at 16.00 gives a full day in the Wetlands from Kasanka. What a place! We saw Black Lechwe wall to wall, Tsessebe elusive in long grass and after a bit of a search by boat 3 of the rare Shoebill.
The water trips were outstanding, poled along with birds everywhere, local fishermen and as the name means "where the sky meeets the water" is wonderful scenery.
We went to Kasanka with one principal objective, ie to see the elusive sitatunga, and were fortunate enough to have an excellent sighting on the first of our three mornings there. We were also very impressed with the birdlife - Schalow's turaco being just one of several 'specials' we found there. And we were fortunate enough to enjoy a good sighting of a troupe of blue monkeys too.
That said, Kasanka is not especially well populated with megafauna thanks to the impact of poaching on this part of the country; so visitors should be prepared to temper their expectations accordingly and be patient.
In addition to going out in the truck, we enjoyed a very pleasant river safari from the nearby Luwombwa camp; and a couple of walks. Throughout we were expertly guided by Webby.
The camp itself is comfortable and its manager, Ernst, is working to improve standards across the board as the Kasanka Trust looks to attract more guests.
All in all, we feel that Kasanka - coupled with Bangweulu - is well worth a short stay, especially for the experienced African visitor looking for something a little out of the ordinary and with an interest in bird life.
Wasa Lodge review
It is more than 20 years since we last visited Wasa and it has changed hugely but not at the expense of its simplicity and essence. It is a very special place.
We were most warmly welcomed by everyone there who took great care to accommodate any wishes we had and our stay was a joy. The location is beautiful, the staff delightful, food delicirous, rooms very comfortable and bird and game viewing great - we were so lucky to see the first of the fruit bats and enjoyed a well guided walk round the lake. We also enjoyed meeting other guests.
Everything was great - from the day trip to visit the Livingstone Memorial and Chief Chitambo (whom we didn't actually meet but loved the whole adventure), expertly guided by the charming Emmanuel, to dinner with some of the most interesting and engaging people we have met for a very long time. Thank you to Ernst and his team, you got it absolutely spot on.
Wasa Lodge review
Kasanka is still under development, interesting because of researchers active in the park. Our guide might have told us a bit more, instead of just pointing at animals. A great contrast to Brent Harris in Kafue!Read more about the whole safari