Road Trip Adventure to the Source of the Zambezi in Zambia
Road Trip : Chingola / Source Zambezi / Chingola: 1120km - 8AUG 2022
Hidden Gems in the North Western Province of Zambia
Writer - Kerry Macfarlane
Photography - Ntanda Ventures Zambia
The best part of the job as a tour operator is getting to go to amazing places. This time a girls adventure road trip to the north western province of Zambia was the plan.
I thankfully managed to convince some great friends to join us, and they also just happened to be great in the kitchen, using whatever is available, so a real added bonus as were going for self-catering accommodations.
For Ntanda Ventures it is important to see the places we offer and have seen and experienced all the details ourselves when putting itineraries together for clients.
The drive to the source of the Zambezi was not dangerous, though the road is known as a rather bad road to the furthest North Western point in Zambia. The part from Chingola to Solwezi went pretty smooth on a good road. We spent the night at Georgies on the Mutanda Falls. An amazing place but, you do have to talk quite loudly to hear yourself over the noise of these falls.
There are viewpoints where you can see Angola and DRC (Congo) in the distance.
The 200 km drive from Georgies to Wina Wa Nzambi took us 6 and half hours !
A long drive on a very straight road with a few bridge crossings, lots of potholes and dust.
The drive will also take you through the important bird area (IBA) called the Chitunta plain. The Chitunta Plain is very important for many bird species, including the Angola lark, Grimwood's longclaw, the dambo (black-tailed) cisticola, the black and rufous swallows and short-tailed pipits.
The deeper you get into this tiny corner of Zambia the better the birding gets.
Sadly there had been a fire through this area a few weeks before so we didn’t see much birdlife.
Wina Wa Nzambia - Mwinilunga
Wina is breathtaking and an unbelievable jewel in the middle of nowhere. Situated on the edge of the Wina Crater, you find stunning sunsets. Wina is set on the Rea family farm and home to approx. 60 antelope (sitatunga, wildebeest, hartebeest, puku, reedbuck, bushbuck, duiker), civet cats, jackal, pangolins, bush babies, orchids, riverine vegetation, sitatunga, civet cats, bush babies and birds.
Must Do Tips Around Wina Wa Nzambia
- Walk around the top and bottom of Wina crater which is a beautiful walk at any time of day, but especially during sunrise or sunset. Look for the resident bushbabies in the thick bush at the bottom or the pangolin family, monitor lizards and the birds.
- Canoe, fish on West Lunga River or Fish in the Wina pool
- Wildlife walks, Bird walks and game drives (ask for a guide)
We only managed a short game drive before sunset to see the wildebeest and some great village life. They had prepared the kasava which was out drying after being pound In the traditional wooden drum like buckets , it looked like back breaking work for a staple food which I’m told has no nutritional value.
None of us had any problem sleeping and we had an early start for the Source which is only 60km from Wina but we were not sure what to expect. We were very relived to find this road (although not tarred) in much better shape and the journey took us just over an hour.
Buying Local Foods
We have called this pineapple land, they are everywhere and sweetest fruit you will ever taste.
Buying a load of these is great way to support the local communities along the road. The little red potatoes are also a big hit. If you are self catering there is plenty of fruit and veg to buy along the way. We came home with over 150 Pineapples and a stash of the best
Source of the Zambezi River Zambia (Ikelenge)
The source of the mighty Zambezi River lies at about 1500m above sea level in the Mwinilunga District, very close to the border where Zambia, Angola and the Congo meet.
The vegetation is mainly swamp/riparian forest and is important for covering the actual source of the Zambezi River. This forest is about 24 metres high with a dense canopy and a more or less continuous shrub layer of between 2-3 metres high. This first part of the great river before up to the Victoria Falls is called the upper Zambezi, after which the river continues to become the middle Zambezi.
It is very difficult to imagine that this river flows from a trickle in a forest into a mighty river that in some places becomes 8 km wide and thunders down the Victoria Falls.
The source of the Zambezi river is maybe a little under whelming when you have been to Victoria Falls but this forest is a true hidden gem and certainly worth the drive. Don’t think you will be happy with a quick walk to the Zambezi source through the forest. Definitely do allow yourself as much time as possible. The birdsongs, butterflies and fauna in the forest are all amazing.
Our mission was accomplished, all the times and distances were safely recorded in order to package this destination in to a adventure travel bucket list tour, it was time to head home.
Depending on how much time you have there is a lot more to explore in the north western province of Zambia.
- Zengamina mini-hydroelectric power scheme Zambia's pioneering rural power mini grid that since 2007 has provided renewable electricty to the Ikelenge district, transforming public services and economic activity. Located at the beautiful Zambezi rapids - with 2 further beautiful waterfalls upstream.
- Historic Kalene Hill Mission hospital - Climb Kalene hill, inspect the original hospital foundations ruins, and gaze over Angola and DRC and imagine the pioneering missionary doctors that established this outpost.
- Lake Chibesha - A heart shaped lake with a white sandy beach and beautiful mopani forest. Swim, cycle, walk, stunning place to overnight camp under the stars.
- Local waterfalls where the river drops down towards Victoria Falls (numerous) "to North: Lwakela, Zambezi triple (Zengamina, Chiyesu, Nyadibeya) to East: Kanyama (Mujila upper and lower falls).
- Stand on the Angolan border at Jimbe Bridge, very few people get to this most remote corner of Zambia - stand on a 70yr old bridge, walk across to Angola and chat with the guards, who may sell you an Angolan beer.
Important Bird Areas North West Province
West Lunga National Park and Lukwakwa Game Management Area were designated an Important Bird Area in 2005 by BirdLife International. Some of these important bird species include: Gorgeous bush shrike (Perrin’s), Crested guineafowl, Purple throated cuckoo-shrike, Margaret’s batis, Rufous-bellied tit, Square-tailed drongo, African finfoot, Pel’s fishing owl, Böhms bee-eater, Half collared kingfisher, Western bronze naped pigeon, Lady Ross’ turaco, Schallow’s turaco, Cassin’s flycatcher, Evergreen forest warbler, Laura’s woodland warbler, Grey apalis, and Blue-mantled crested flycatcher.
When visiting these bird areas you can stay in Kafunfula Community Camp which is a community social enterprise. All proceeds go towards operating the camp, promoting conservation and improving livelihoods in the Ifumba and Wamafwaha communities of Musele Chiefdom.
Drive to Solwezi - Visit Nsanhi Art - 2000 years copper crafts
After leaving Mwinilunga we head back towards Solwezi and this route is the mining heart of Zambia so not the most exciting but I cannot fail to mention the ladies from Nsanshi Art and the Kifubwa rock shelter. Do not miss out on a stop.
Nsanhi Art supports vulnerable women and girls in the community and the ladies make stunning pieces of copper jewelery. This is a women-run jewelery workshop in the Zambian mining town of Solwezi, adding value to local minerals and providing employment. Supported by First Quantum Minerals and its Kansanshi Foundation. At Kansanshi Hill 2,000 years ago, women worked an empowering craft where they mined and smelted copper, crafted it into jewelry and Katanga Crosses, also known as Nsanshi and traded it with travelers. Nsanshi Art sits at the junction where history, economics, and social welfare collide. They welcome tourists and can give a talk about the 2000 year history of Kansanshi and how before money you could use a Nsanshi (Katanga cross) to buy yourself out of slavery.
Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelter – Solwezi
Rare pigmented engravings cover the walls of this Stone Age shelter which is a prehistoric secret. The most stunning feature of the rock shelters are the engravings underneath the rock overhangs. These consist of geometric line markings and “U” motifs. They were made using the “incision technique,” where the stone of the rock shelter was repeatedly rubbed or chipped away using harder stones. Unusual for Zambia, these engravings were combined with painting, as red pigment was used to color in the engravings. The Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelters were first discovered in 1928. Excavations of the floor revealed evidence of Late Stone Age hunter-gather occupation, carbon tests dated the site to between 6,000 and 6,500 years ago.
Go on Adventure Travel Zambia
Join us on amazing of the beaten track safari adventures in Zambia. As an award winning local women owned sustainable tour operator we show you the real Zambia with surprisingly authentic encounters with animals and people in the best available lodges like Wildtracks Lodge and Kasaka River Lodge.
Read our blog about Traditional Zambian Cuisine You Must Try