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Zambia: Land of rivers, waterfalls

THE species in and around Lake Tanganyika have historically been an integral part of the culture of the Lungu and other tribes around the lake.
BETTY CHABALA

ZAMBIA possesses the largest freshwater resources in the whole of southern Africa.
This is because the country has a wide assortment of rivers, both big and small, across the country.
From these rivers hail more than 20 awe-inspiring waterfalls that make Zambia a hub of waterfalls and a must for adventure enthusiasts.
The thunderous roar of the steady flowing waterfalls as water goes over their rocky edged cliffs is one of the most powerful sounds of nature.
The most remarkable of these falls is the awesome Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Southern Province.
The Victoria Falls is the biggest and most renowned waterfall in Zambia.
At almost 2 kilometres wide and 103 metres deep, the falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it is a heritage site.
The falls hails from the Zambezi River.
We take a look at some of the most popular and astonishing water bodies found in our beautiful country.
Remember, “Take a holiday, have it local”, and explore amazing Zambia.
Kabwelume Waterfalls
The Kabwelume Waterfalls comprises three flatbed waterfalls each spilling into the next.
The first and main cascade is 25m high followed by two smaller cascades. Locals believe that the falls are the home of yet another snake spirit that lives under the rainbow which is in view at any time of day.
These waterfalls are a package of three different curtains of falling waters. Next to the Kabwelume is the Chimpepe Falls down the Kalungwishi River.
Kalambo Falls
Kalambo Falls is said to be Africa’s second highest free-leaping or single-drop waterfall (second to one of the tiers of Tugela Falls in South Africa) at 221m.
The waterfall is in high flow in May/June. But this depends on how much rainfall the region gets each season.
Ntumbachushi Falls
The falls is located on Ngosa River in Kawambwa. Over time the falls has attained an important bearing on the Lunda and Chishinga of Luapula Province. They are a powerful shrine for both tribes. History reveals that Mwata Kazembe Chinyanta Munono V1 of the Lunda fell in love with his brother’s wife and married her.
As compensation for the beautiful woman, he gave his brother the land around the falls and beyond and this became the boundary of the Lunda people.
The falls can easily be accessible from Nchelenge and Mansa in Luapula Province.
Chishimba Waterfalls
The Bemba in the north regard the Chishimba Falls as one of the most sacred places of power. The natural 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 spoken in the vicinity of the caves.
Ngonye Waterfalls
In the west, near the village of Sioma on the Zambezi River, lies 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 2 kilometres downstream in the dugout canoe and take a path back upstream, the full magnitude can be seen. The falls are 12 metres high but spread around a broad crescent. In the winter and dry seasons, they provide a pleasant picnic spot, and in full flood, they become a broad roaring surging, thundering force.
Kundalila Falls
Kundalila is found in Central Province in an area of spectacular scenic beauty. The Kaombe River flows 70 metres, breaking into thin veil, nourishing a natural botanical garden that surrounds the falls. The top of the Kundalila Falls offers 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 of the waterfalls means “cooling dove”, one of the many bird sounds you will hear in this tranquil setting. Kundalila Falls is on the east of the Great North Road near Kanona.
Lumangwe Waterfalls
Located on Kalungwishi River, Lumangwe Falls is a look-alike of the Victoria Falls, in a mini version. Luma means “healing motion” while ngwe denotes a combination of intensity, force and substance. 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 Kabwelume Falls a distance of about 5 kilometres. The falls are accessible from Kasama.
Chipoma Waterfalls
The Chipoma Falls are at their maximum height in January and live up to their name, which in Bemba conveys the reverberating rush of falling water that can be heard long before the falls are in sight.
Mumbuluma Falls
Mumbuluma Falls is found 33 kilometres from Mansa, cascading in two sites on the Mumbuluma River. The worship temples for the protective spirits, Mumbuluma and his sister Ngosa, are situated some distance south of the Mumbuluma Falls. The temple has a sacred fire which never goes out and is tendered by the priests. According to history, Makumba and Ngosa fell from the sky.
Lakes also abound.
Lake Bangweulu
In northern Zambia lies a large lake with water so blue and beaches so white that one can mistake it for the sea! Bangweulu means “where the water meets the sky”. Bangweulu is one of the world’s great wetland systems, comprising Lake Bangweulu, Lake Bangweulu swamps, and the Bangweulu floods or floodplain.
It is a breath-taking beautiful place to visit. But the area is so incredibly vast. It is largely left to the multitudes of wildlife that dwell on the rich resources.
Bangweulu is renowned for its vast population of endemic Black Lechwe antelopes that occur in herds of up to several thousands. Also, it is a very good place to see the curious shoe-bill stork, one of the most sought-after African birds.
The Bangweulu bio-diversity system is fed by about 17 principal rivers, of which the Chambishi, “the source of the Congo River”, is the largest, but it is drained by only one river, the Luapula. With a long axis of 75 kilometres and a width of up to 40 kilometres, Lake Bangweulu’s permanent open water surface is about 3,000 km2, which expands when it swamps and floodplains are in floods during the wet season between November and March. The flooded area reaches 15,000km2.
Lake Tanganyika – Zambia
Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake in the world and the second deepest after Baikal in Russia. The immense depth is because it lies in the great rift valley which also has created its steep shoreline. It reaches a depth of 1,433 metres (4,700 feet), which is an outstanding 642 metres below sea level.
An ancient and spectacular rift valley lake, Zambia claims the southernmost steep Lake Tanganyika incorporating some of the most dramatic scenery and more than 100 kilometres of pristine shoreline within Nsumbu National Park. The cloud shrouded peaks of the Kapembwa escarpments are believed by the local people to be the realm of the “spirt of the lake” and plunge into crystal-clear waters teeming with an amazing diversity of life, 90 percent of which is found nowhere else on earth.
Across where the Lufubu River enters the lake begins Nsumbu National Park, a 2,000-kilomere square wilderness area interspersed with dense Itigi forest and vast floodplains harbouring wildlife ranging from elephants and buffalo to the rare and shy sitatunga antelope.
The area abounds in natural resources and beauty. Below the surface of the water is no less astounding, the 250 species of brightly coloured cichlid fish inhabit every possible habitat and number in schools of millions, while the giant Nile perch, tigerfish, catfish, Jellyfish and crabs are more reminiscent of a tropical coral reef than an inland freshwater lake.
A plethora of hidden caves ringed by perfect beaches completes the image of a tropical island hideaway in the heart of Africa, making Lake Tanganyika a getaway like no other.
Activities at the lake include adventurous scuba diving, snorkelling, hikes to little-known, yet magnificent, waterfalls and kayak expeditions.
Angling here is enormous and is considered to be among the best in the world with more than 10 species regularly caught on line. The coastline breeds beautiful beaches which are an excellent source of pure relaxation.
Lake Kariba and Siavonga
In southern Zambia lies Lake Kariba and Siavonga. The town is only two and a half hours on a good tarred road from Lusaka and within easy reach of the border crossing at Chirundu and Kariba. The main attraction is Lake Kariba, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes.
A visit to Siavonga would not be complete without a visit to the magnificent Kariba Dam wall, towering 118 metres above the Zambezi River, across the Kariba Gorge.
At the time of construction in the 1950s, the Kariba Dam was known as one of the engineering wonders of the world.
Birdlife is prolific with Zambia’s national bird, the fish eagle, in abundance. Hippopotamus and the Nile crocodile are also frequently seen and occasionally small mammals are evident. The lake, coupled with some of Africa’s unrivalled landscapes, makes an incredible canvas for artists and photographers alike. In addition to the lake and water activities, other areas of interest are the crocodile farm and the country’s second largest hydro-power station.
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