Waterfalls on the way north

Zambia is known for its multitude of waterfalls. There are entire travel guides that deal only with the visit of the many small and large waterfalls. Sonja has dealt intensively with the topic and has selected five waterfalls that we could combine very well with our favorite route to the South Luangwa National Park. From Kasanka we continued the back road towards Mansa. The north definitely exceeds all negative expectations one can have about road construction. We have never found such road surfaces in any country as in Zambia. Melted asphalt, deformed by an endless number of trucks to 30-40 cm high tubs. Overtaking here becomes a special experience. At least the conditions ensured that we were not bored at any time. The only humor left at the end was when we reached one of several pay stations where we were allowed to pay money for the use of this outstanding infrastructure.

The Mumbuluma Falls near Mansa

We reached Mumbuluma Falls without incident. A small sign led us to a dirt road that went through the middle of a village. After about a 10-minute drive, we reached the parking lot with reception in a rocky area. The campsite was right next to the reception. We settled in and then visited the falls, which in this case were divided into two. They were two steps separated by a larger plateau. Below the second step was a 7 meter deep pool that allowed anyone who wanted to to creatively plunge down the step, which was about five meters deep. This pool was very popular with locals! When we returned to our car after finishing our tour, we noticed a gathering of people at the front desk. About 20 adults and 30 to 40 children were hanging out in the shade of the reception. We later learned that we were the reason for the gathering. The village was quite excited that Mzungus were there and no one wanted to miss the opportunity to look at us very closely and observe us.

Refreshment in the morning

In the absence of a shower, it is customary to clean oneself in the pools at the falls. Guido has been using matching solid shower gel with the Duschbrocken for a number of years. It not only reduces plastic waste, but is also completely degradable and therefore suitable for use in water bodies. The refreshment felt good and so we set off in the morning rested, awake and freshly cleaned to tackle the next stage to the Ntumbachushi Falls. In the meantime the road conditions were so bad that on tarred road rarely more than 50 km per hour were possible. The falls are located in the Kawambwa district and are about 250 km away from the provincial capital Mansa. For us this meant a journey of about 4.5 hours. In parts, one could only guess at the asphalt in the middle of an area littered with potholes. It is really ludicrous that Zambia charges user fees for these conditions. 

Sleeping next to the Ntumbachushi Falls

These waterfalls were also not very noticeable signposted. When we had followed the dirt road for a while, we could already hear them. Unlike the previous waterfalls, these consisted of several narrow units that poured into a wide natural basin from a height of up to 30 meters. Various viewpoints allowed us to see them from different perspectives. A rickety bridge crossed a river and we were able to explore another, smaller fall. We chose a campsite very close to the waterfall and had fun in the afternoon with a group of Zambians who came here for a barbecue. We also met a pastor and a reverend of a free church and had a very detailed conversation with them. The place is also very popular with couples in love and the waterfalls serve as a backdrop for photo shoots of all kinds. When we were alone, we enjoyed a campfire against the backdrop and soon went to sleep contentedly. The monotonous sound gave us a peaceful night and the next morning we set off early to master our next stage.

The little Victoria Falls

Our next destination was Lumangwe Falls. These falls are also located in the Kawambwa District and are called the little Victoria Falls. The distance of about 150 km promised a fast approach. Not taking the road condition into consideration always pays off. We managed the distance in just under 3.5 hours driving time and did not dawdle. Now we already had some rainy days behind us. In Zambia this is immediately noticeable. When we reached our destination, we had forgotten all our troubles. This waterfall was a real blast. Not only did we actually see little Victoria Falls, but we had a big grin on our face when we realized that the campsite was on the corner of the waterfall. We couldn’t have imagined anything more beautiful here! We were still discussing with the staff where to make the fire when a thunderstorm of the extra class broke loose. It thundered and flashed from all pipes. Only the rain stayed away and so we enjoyed the bizarre situation of sitting at the edge of the waterfall at the campfire and watching lightning on the other side of the falls without any rain at our place. In fact, in these moments all the efforts regarding the approach were forgotten and we enjoyed what was presented to us.

Change of plans

During the night, the rain did start and it rained for hours. Our next goal was to take the direct route towards Kasama. From there we wanted to get to Kapishya to the hot springs. After a rest there, our intention was to drive across the North Luangwa to the South Luangwa. With this route we would not only have avoided the dreary way via Lusaka, but would also have had an exciting round trip. Unfortunately it turned out differently. As soon as we had left Lumangwe Falls, we were confronted with a sight of horror. The road to Mporokoso was a pile of mud. Already without rain this road is a real challenge. After the rain it was not seriously doable. Wherever our eyes looked, we saw mud and water. We were reasonable and consulted each other. After a few minutes we agreed that we had to adjust all future plans to the new conditions and decided to go back the same way we had come and to do without the two still missing waterfalls. Our way to the South Luangwa finally led us via Lusaka and Chipata. About 1500 km lay ahead of us, which we wanted to unwind as quickly as possible. 

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