Discover Bangweulu Swamps in Zambia

AboutBangweulu Swamps

The Great Bangweulu Basin, incorporating the vast Bangweulu Lake and a massive wetland area lies in a shallow depression in the centre of an ancient cratonic platform, the North Zambian Plateau. The basin is fed by 17 principle rivers from a catchment area of 190 000 sq. km, but is drained by only one river, the Luapula. The Swamps host amazing birdlife, including the rare and very special shoebill. This is a big attraction but we feel that even without this they merit high ratings.

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Bangweulu Swamps wildlife
Shoebill at Bangweulu

The Bangweulu Swamps region

Bangweulu Swamps

Camps & Lodgesin the Bangweulu Swamps region

More aboutBangweulu Swamps

The Bangweulu Swamps are wetlands located adjacent to the large Lake Bangweulu. It lies in a shallow swamp in the centre of the craton plate, the northern Zambian plateau. Between November and March (the rainy season), this area floods. The average annual rainfall is about 1,200 mm. 90% of the water that enters the Bangweulu system evaporates. As a result, the water level in the centre of the swamp varies between 1 and 2 metres, causing the periphery of the floodline to increase and reduce by up to 45km. This rise and fall dictates life in the swamps.

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General information

Bangweulu is a rich and diverse ecosystem in north-eastern Zambia. This community owned protected area not just provides life for wildlife, but also roughly 50 000 people who live there. The wetlands are ecologically very sensitive. This has resulted in strict driving rules during the dry season, which allow for only limited access on well-beaten paths. In the higher grounds around this area, there is a mix of plenty trees which include miombo. The grasslands that cover the wetlands vary in composition. The composition of a wetland depends on the depth and duration of flood waters. For most part, they consist mainly open water areas.
The swamp is a rich source of food. For hundreds of years, the marshes have been a home to humans, but most of the park is free for animals.


One of the most unusual endemic species in this area is the black lechwe. It is related to the red lechwe found in South Africa and the Kafue lechwe found elsewhere in Zambia. Besides the large herds of black lechwes, the park is also home to sitatungas, tsessebes, reedbucks and oribis. Zebras, elephants and buffalos are also frequently seen. The reed beds are excellent resting and hiding places for crocodiles, while the permanent water provides refuge to hippos.


Around 400 different bird species live in the Bangweulu Swamps, so it is a true paradise for the real bird lover. Many bird migrants travel great distances to spend the winter in the Bangweulu swamps. The waters of the swamps are rich in food. Frequently seen bird species include cormorants, egrets, herons, geese, and ibises. These birds often fly in enormous groups over the swamps.
The main attraction of Bangweulu Swamps is the rare shoebill stork. The shoebill has chosen the Bangweulu Swamps as one of their last remaining habitats. During the first months after the summer rains, this special bird is regularly seen at the water’s edge. Another great treat here is the wattled crane (10% of the global population is found here).



Shoebill Island Camp is tucked away in inland vegetation and has stunning views of the Bangweulu Swamps. Situated in one of the most special and important wetlands in all of Africa, this accommodation is a very special place to stay. This atmospheric environment with many passing birds and thousands of lechwes is a true dream destination.


Special Interest Safari
Join us on a Shoebill safari, not only will you have a chance to see the shoebill, but you will also encounter impala, zebra, buffalo, cheetah (reintroduced in 2020) and many other game. Besides the Bangweulu Swamps, we will also visit South Luangwa National Park and Kasanka National Park during this safari.

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