This pleasant town (GPS:KABWE) is situated little more than 60km south of Kapiri Mposhi and about 130km north of Lusaka. It is built on the old colonial model of a perpendicular road-grid central business area, surrounded by pretty, spacious suburbs and with 'satellite' townships containing lots of high-density housing for poorer people.
These divisions have now melted a little, but the centre still has pleasantly wide streets lined with a variety of shops – although most of these have seen better days. The main shop in town is the large Shoprite supermarket, on Freedom Way (which is parallel to, and one block south of, Independence Avenue), and for motorists there are a number of fuel stations on Independence Avenue.
Kabwe, when under colonial rule, was known as Broken Hill. In 1921 an almost complete human skull was unearthed here during mining operations, at a depth of about 20m. Together with a few other human bones nearby, it's estimated to be over 200,000 years old, making these the oldest human remains known from southern central Africa. Originally classified as Homo rhodesiensis by scientists, the remains are now generally attributed to Homo heidelbergensis, a large-brained species that was the common ancestor to Homo sapiens in Africa and the Neanderthals in Europe. However, to most people this human is best known as 'Broken Hill Man'.
In more recent times, the town's economy has always been closely linked with mining, which recently has been for zinc and lead (with very high quality silver as a by-product). The mine, which was only about 2km south of the centre, has now been closed for quite a few years although a consortium of locals (management buy-out) with some foreign capital have bought the rights to re-cycle its dumps.
Where to stayTuskers Hotel
(35 rooms) PO Box 80942, Kabwe; tel: 05 222076/7; fax: 05 222076; email: email@example.com
On the corner of Freedom Way and Buntungwa Street, on the southern side of town, this is Kabwe's main hotel. It's not an exciting place to stay, and survives mainly on the trade in local conferences, but the rooms are clean, the TVs work, and there's a basic restaurant.Hotel Horizon
Tel: 02 223398; fax: 221019
On the corner of Independence Avenue and Buntungwa Street, this is less impressive than the Elephant's Head Hotel, indeed it's pretty grotty, but also a bit cheaper. We'd recommend Tuskers, however, unless every cent counts.
Excursions from Kabwe
About 130km east of Kabwe is Wonder Gorge, a spectacular gorge 300m deep where the Mkushi River meets the Lunsemfwa, and both cut into the rocks of the Muchinga Escarpment.