The Kasanka bat migration is one of the continent’s best kept wildlife secrets. While the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest is one of the best known wildlife phenomenon in Africa, the Kasanka bat migration is the largest migration of land mammals on earth.
Each year, between October and December, up to 10 million straw coloured fruit bats stream into Kasanka National Park, to just a few hectares of forest known as ‘The Bat Forest’, enticed to the area by the promise of ripe fruits.
They arrive from throughout the moist, tropical forests of the Congo basin with the first rains in Kasanka – prompting the ripening of the fruit upon which they feed. The sheer numbers of bats darken the skies and it is a spectacle on such a grand scale that every animal lover should add to their wildlife calendar.
While bats may have a bad reputation, conjuring up images of blood sucking vampires, the straw-coloured fruit bats eat only fruit, are extremely endearing creatures and rather cute up close! During the daytime over the migration, the trees of Kasanka are covered with a thick blanket of upside down bats, packed tightly together like grapes.
At dusk each night, the bats begin to fly off and the sky becomes thick with flocks of flying foxes 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.
The best place to view this spectacle is from a hide or platform in the trees during the early hours of the morning and then again at dusk.
Robin Pope Safaris first started guiding tours to see the bats in 1992 and now offers specialised safaris to the area during November and December. Guests are offered a taste of this batty wildlife phenomenon while enjoying the wonders of South Luangwa in the emerald season.
Find out more about this awe-inspiring experience at Robin Pope Kasanka Bat Safaris.