Zambia: The Water Wonderland
> Like nowhere else on earth, Zambia offers a fabulous assortment of waterfalls, cascades, rapids, cataracts and flumes on its many waterways.
A wonderland to those who appreciate the beauty and raw powerful force of waterfalls as they thunder over the rocks on their way to lower ground.
Twelve of the larger ones are described here.
> Ngonye Falls
In the west, near the Village of Sioma on the Zambezi River, lie the Ngonye Falls.
Although not very high, the volume of water thundering over the rocks is second only to the Victoria Falls. The falls can be seen from Sioma but if you cross the river 2km downstream in the dugout canoe ferry there and take a path back upstream, the full magnitude can be seen.
They are 12m high but spread around a broad crescent. In the winter “dry” season they provide a pleasant picnic spot and in full flood, they become a broad, roaring, surging, thundering force.
> Nyambwezi Falls
In North-Western Province, 204km south of the Solwezi-Mwinilunga Road on the Nyambwezu River, is a 20m high waterfall.
There is a rock shelter close to the lip of the falls decorated with prehistoric engravings and evidence of late Stone Age occupation. It is possible to camp here.
> Kalambo Falls
In Northern Province, 33km from Mbala on the Kalambo River, which forms the border between Zambia and Tanzania.
This spectacular jet of water falls in single uninterrupted stream 221m down into the gorge below and then on into Lake Tanganyika.
They are the second-highest falls in Africa and the 12th highest in the world. The rare maribou stork nests in the gorge below the falls.
> Kundalila Falls
Off the Great North Road near Kanona in Central Province, in an area of spectacular scenic beauty, the Kaombe River falls 70m.
Visitors may swim in the deep natural pool at the foot of the falls and there is a camping site nearby.
The top of these falls offer one of the most spectacular views over the vast Luangwa Valley, while at the foot is a delightful natural pool of great scenic beauty famed for its wild flowers.
The name means “cooing dove”, one of the many bird sounds you will hear in this tranquil setting.
> Lumangwe Falls
Near the Chipembe pontoon in Northern Province, an astounding drop in the middle of nowhere creates what looks like a smaller version of Victoria Falls.
Thirty-five metres high and 100m across, the falls nourish a small rain forest on the Kalungwishi River. They are quite magnificent and well worth the 9km detour off the main road from Kawambwa to Mporokoso.
An ideal spot for camping, although there are no facilities – but then that's the beauty of the place. You're sure to be the only ones there.
The falls are said to be the home of the Great Snake Spirit called Lumangwe. In the olden days, this snake was said to have stretched itself between the Lumangwe and Kabweluma Falls, a distance of 5km.
> Ntumbachushi Falls
A series of water pools and rapids culminating in the main falls about 30m high on the Ng’ona River. This very picturesque waterfall was believed to be a sanctuary of spirits while the waters of the Ng’ona River are used for bathing chiefs before they are installed on the throne so as to cleanse them of bad luck and misfortune.
Situated between Kazembe and Kawambwa in the Luapula Province. An ideal site for camping.
> Chisimba Falls
A combination of about three successive falls about 33km from Kasama in Northern Province.
On the eastern bank of the river just above the falls is a campsite. There is a rain forest on the Western Bank.
The Bemba people regard the Chishimba Falls as one of the most sacred places of power. The nature spirit, Chishimba, resides in the cave below the falls which is a place of prayer and honour.
No insults, curses, words of vengeance or hatred may be uttered in the vicinity of the caves.
> Chipembe Falls
Chipepe Falls, like Lumangwe, is on the Kalungwishi River. Chimpepe means something overhanging or sticking out. These falls are home to tasty bream fish.
> Mutumuna Falls
Mutumuna is above the Chishimba Falls and it is believed the spirit of Mutumuna resides here. The High Priest of Mutumuna is Chitemenwe and makes regular offerings. Because of the sacred nature of the falls no sexual intercourse, arrogance and quarrelsomeness is allowed in the vicinity of the falls.
> Kabweluma Falls
Five kilometres down the Kalungwishi River from the Lumangwe Falls you'll find this group of three powerful cascades, each spilling into the next.
The falls are a revered shrine for the local people. Many frogs are seen here, which locals say they are the earthly forms of snake spirits.
The spirits do not allow the building of houses or any frivolity nearby. Beneath the falls there is a thickly wooded ravine and some ancient paintings adorning nearby rock faces beneath a permanent rainbow.
> Mumbuluma Falls
Mumbuluma Falls, situated 33km from Mansa Town, cascades down in two steps on the Mumbuluma River.
The temple for the protective spirits, Makumba and his sister Ngosa, are situated some distance south of the falls. The temple has a sacred fire which never goes out and is tended by the priests.
According to legend, Makumba and Ngosa fell from the sky.
> Kundabwika Falls
On the Kalungwishi River, 95km from Mporokoso. Two small waterfalls, the main one being 25m high and in the flood season 70m wide.
A revered shrine for local people. There is a traditional custodian appointed by the chief who looks after the area.
Locals believe that ignoring ritual and prayer at the falls brings bad luck. – Zambia Tourism Board