Zambia :: Great North
Category: Attraction :: Waterfall
Lumangwe Falls are some 30 m high and 100 m wide which makes them the largest waterfalls in Zambia and is no doubt the reason for their national monument status. While much smaller than Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls (aka Victoria Falls) they’re very similar in appearance and are often mistaken for the first-mentioned in photographs. During high water levels (around April to September, depending on rainfall) the spray is carried up to 100 m into the air and is accompanied by the roar of falling water which is also very reminiscent of ‘the smoke that thunders’. For these reasons, Lumangwe Falls are often fondly referred to as ‘Little Vic Falls’.Traveller Description
There are a number of viewpoints along the cliff’s edge at Lumangwe but take care as these are often wet and slippery from the spray and many are close to the edge. Should you be in the area during full moon, be on the lookout for Lumangwe's very own lunar rainbow from the first viewpoint.
A relatively easy trail leads from Lumangwe to Kabwelume Falls six kilometres away. Alternatively, the road between the two falls is graded and easy enough to negotiate in your vehicle, although adverse weather conditions could change matters. These half-moon shaped falls are beautiful and when water levels are high, viewers are soaked by the resulting mist spray - care should be taken on the trail to the viewpoint, it’s wet and very slippery.
Smaller than Kabwelume, Kundabwika Falls are found further northwest on the Kalungwishi River. They consist of two small falls, the main one is about 25 m high and, when in flood, some 70 m across. In the rocks alongside, one can find some rock paintings which date back to the Iron Age.
Less well known than Lumangwe and Kabwelume Falls, nearby Chipempe Falls form a gorge in the middle of the Kalungwishi River. To reach these falls you have to cross a section of the river on foot and this is only manageable in the dry season, so this restricts access to this time. Chipempe Falls are seldom visited so the track leading to the parking area may be a bit overgrown but you’ll be warmly greeted by Stanley, the caretaker, and his family, who will offer to guide you.
They’ll show you the safest place to cross the river and the best position to view the falls. A K40 fee is recommended for his services, please note this is on top of the entry fee. If you are short of fresh produce, you may be able to purchase some from him, freshly picked from his garden. The falls are located on the Kalungwishi River which forms the eastern border of Lusenga Plains National Park. This park is named after an oval-shaped volcanic crater, approximately seven by five kilometres in extent which can be clearly seen from the air. The park was declared in 1972, and consists of some 880 km² of pure wilderness, incorporating the crater and its surrounding hills.
The park was named an IBA (Important Birding Area) in 2005, and is home to Blue Quail, Banded Martin, Cabani’s Greenbul, Violet-backed Sunbird, Long-tailed Neddicky and many more. While better known for its exquisite variety of bird species, you’ll also find some buffalo, blue and yellow-backed duiker, yellow baboon, Gambian Sun Squirrel and other species if you look carefully enough.
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|Camping, Child Friendly
Travelling from Kawambwa towards Lumangwe Falls, you’ll come across a signposted turnoff to the falls approximately three kilometres south of Mukuma Village. Note, if you follow this track, you will end up on the western side of the falls, with no way to cross the Kalungwishi river to visit the facilities on the eastern banks. You will have to return to the main road and continue through Mukuma to the T-junction, where you will turn west to Lumangwe Falls, or east to Mporokoso.
An off-road vehicle is recommended for the final stretch to Lumangwe; note, in the rainy season the route is muddy and slippery. Even though the waterfalls mentioned are located on Lusenga Plains National Park’s eastern boundary, they cannot be accessed from within the park so park access is charged for separately - it’s not covered by waterfall entry fee.
Entry fees for Lumangwe and Kabwelume Falls are US$15 per person, and US$5 per vehicle. This is one fee to visit both falls, you do not pay twice.
The campsite at Kabwelume falls is closed but the campsite at Lumangwe is well worth an overnight stay.
Tow-in services: +27(0)97 473 7848 / +260(0)96 676 1647 (Based in Lusaka). (2019).
LUSENGA PLAINS NATIONAL PARK:
The few roads in Lusenga Plains National Park are mostly overgrown and require an off-road vehicle. This said, the absence of dangerous game makes this park ideal for hiking and exploring on foot. There’s no official accommodation in the park but when you pay for your permit at the DNPW office in Kawambwa (note you have to pay here, you cannot pay at the park), you can request permission to bush camp - US$1 entry fee, US$5 for camping and US$15 per vehicle. Take a printout from the Zambia Tourism website which details these costs, there has been some confusion over fees in the past.
Lumangwe falls has a very nice campsite which feels secluded because the entire area is quite far from the nearest settlements. This is one of the few waterfall campsites we could find with this quality. If you’re going to camp at one waterfall on your trip then this one may well be worth your while but try not to arrive on weekends when people will travel to visit the falls and you may share the site with some rowdy visitors. With flush toilets and cold showers serving three sites it has good facilities. One campsite is next to the river and has an insaka while the others are tucked into the forest further from the river. The campsite caretaker is a friendly and helpful guy who will supply you with firewood if required. There’s lots of shade and at night one is overwhelmed by the sound of the waterfall. Your camping fee should include your falls entry fee as well.
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