Words and image by Gordon Stewart
The Great Snake Spirit
On the homeward journey of a recent African trip that took us through Rwanda, and south down the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika into Zambia, we planned to visit some of the little-known waterfalls in northern Zambia as described in the book Guide to Little-Known Waterfalls of Zambia by Quentin Allen, Ilse Mwanza and Heather Chalcraft (ISBN: 9982-9952-0-0). The idea was sparked by a conversation with a Dutch couple we had met on one of our previous trips. Touring southern Africa in their Unimog, they had been thrilled and delighted by the waterfalls of northern Zambia.
They not only shared some of their experiences with us, but also gave us several photocopies of the waterfalls they were planning to visit − as well as recommendations on those they had visited. Spurred on by their enthusiasm, and with a copy of the above-mentioned book in hand, we set off to visit two waterfalls that came highly recommended: the Lumangwe Falls and Kabwelume Falls. Both waterfalls are on the Kalungwishi River in Luapula Province. They lie approximately 6km apart and have both been declared national monuments.
Having crossed the Tanzanian border north of Mbala, we headed for Mpulungu. Be advised: do not attempt this border crossing on a Sunday! We did, and nearly had to spend the night in no-man’s land! The Tanzanian official let it be known that we were very fortunate to have found him in his office, and grudgingly stamped our passports. The Zambian official had to be persuaded to interrupt his Sunday afternoon siesta to attend to us!
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