The Lumangwe Falls Complex in Northern Zambia is undoubtedly my greatest discovery ever. Earlier this year in June, I was privileged to visit the Lumangwe Falls Complex for the very first time. I had already covered Kundalila, Chishimba and Kalambo Falls on my tour of the Northern Tourism circuit.
Located about 80 km north-west of Mporokoso District and about 45km south east of Kawambwa District on the Kawambwa-Mporokoso Road and another 7-8 km further north-east after the turn, the Lumangwe Falls is remote, unexploited and underdeveloped. They are found on the Kalungwishi River which originates from Ulwangwa in an area called Chitoshi. This is the same river that later opens up into Lake Mweru Wa Mchanga in the Mununga area of Luapula Province.The Kalungwishi River like most major rivers of the Northern Tourism Circuit generate Hydro Electric Power and still have great potential for more sites. They also have a very high potential for water sports adventure although currently lacking in these and other activities. They also offer remarkable dare-devil shooting sites for the adventurous photographer.
The Lumangwe are only 100m wide and 16m deep compared to the mighty Victoria Falls but bear a striking resemblance. The Falls were discovered by a local hunter, and from local folklore, it is believed that the falls were named after the snake goddess ‘Lumangwe’ who permitted local people to visit the Falls.
“Among the many visits to the falls, apart from tourists, are people who come to study and worship. We receive a lot of researchers, scientists, post graduate students and worshipers” Miss Chishimba, Lumangwe Falls Lodge manager
The falls has a self-catering lodge and camp site located in a complex very close to the falls. The complex is owned and operated by the National Heritage Conservation Commission and has several chalets, toilets, showers, braai areas, and neat camping grounds. Beyond this area are small villages, largely inhabited by the Bemba speaking people of the area. The Lumangwe Falls receive about 30 and 40 local and foreign tourists respectively per week.
5km downstream of the Lumangwe are the Kabwelume falls; the name means ‘Big Stone’ in the local Bemba language. The Kabwelume are a three-tier waterfall with tremendous power. Like the Ntumba Chushi Falls in Kawambwa, these are also a series of cascades. Their total curtain size and thunder can be rivalled to the Lumangwe although their vantage points are very wet and slippery.
The vegetation around the river and falls is rich with several different species of indigenous trees, including Mukula, Umwenge, and Umusuku, that all add to the allure of the falls.
With its remote location, it is in my humble opinion that these falls are indeed Zambia’s best kept secret, the question is, for how long?